The world of architecture is not much different from the reality of human beings. Just like most of the people who rose to fame after a long journey of struggle, many iconic buildings have also gone through the same. Many famous buildings from different eras have created controversies and have been in the news for different reasons, some so powerful that they shaped the thinking and ideology of an entire generation. Let’s have a look at some of the most controversial buildings in the history of architecture–
World’s Most Controversial Buildings in History of Architecture
1. Sagrada Familia (Barcelona, Spain), Antoni Gaudi
One of the most controversial buildings of the world and certainly the most controversial Basilica of all time, Sagrada Familia is an iconic yet, uncompleted Roman Catholic Basilica. What makes this basilica so special and controversial at the same time is that it has been under construction for the last 133 years. The building’s original design was given by Antoni Gaudi and the construction began in 1882 but came to halt in 1926 after Gaudi’s death.
Many famous contemporary architects including Le Corbusier tried to modernize the design of this building as they thought that Gaudi’s design had become irrelevant in the 20th century, but all of these attempts were unsuccessful. The project is slated for completion in the year 2026 on the 100th death anniversary of Gaudi.
2. Eiffel Tower (Paris, France), Gustave Eiffel
Some of the best buildings in the world had to face initial rejection of the masses, the best example being the Eiffel Tower, once labelled as one of the ugliest, monstrous buildings of the world is today the most visited tourist destination. Famous French writer Guy de Maupassant once said that “I like to dine here because this is the only place from where I cannot see the Eiffel Tower“.
The Eiffel Tower was built as a ‘temporary exhibit’ for the Centennial Exposition in Paris, 1889 as the technology used was one of the finest examples of Civil Engineering at that time. The tower was labelled as gigantic, black chimney looks alike building and was decided to be dismantled 20 years after, but was not as the government thought it could be used for the transmission of radio signals which was a new technology at that time.
3. Taj Mahal (Agra, India)
One of the seven wonders of the world, this immensely beautiful example of stone architecture has won the heart of many, but this building has always been a topic of controversy and has even been the reason for many religious conflicts. It is generally believed that the Taj Mahal was built by emperor Shah Jahan in the memory of his wife Mumtaz Mahal and is a symbol of true love, but some findings of Prof. P.N. Oak proved that the Taj Mahal is actually a work of Indian Hindu architecture and was originally a Shiva temple and was built in 1100 AD, which was later confirmed by the carbon dating results of the wood samples taken from some of the doors.
The controversy became stronger when P.N. Oak’s book was not allowed to release as it could have created more political and religious tension all over the country. Till date, the locked rooms of the Taj Mahal have not been opened for scientists and archaeologists to investigate the truth.
4. The Guggenheim Musem (New York), Frank Lloyd Wright
One of the most appreciated works today of Frank Lloyd Wright – the Guggenheim Museum was unfortunately not so much appreciated when it was first built, many art and architecture critics today say that it was not completely understood by people in the 1960’s as the building was more futuristic and different from other buildings at that time, but critics at that time left no stone unturned in describing how ugly the building looked. The famous art critic of that time, John Canaday said that it was “a war between architecture and painting, in which both come out badly maimed”.
People said that the museum looked more like an inverted oatmeal dish rather than an inverted ziggurat.
5. Sydney Opera House (Sydney, Australia)
The best in architecture and design, the ones that led to a change initially faced a lot of criticism or even controversies and the beautiful Sydney Opera House is not an exception. The Sydney Opera House is beautiful but was criticized for its lack of functionality as many people complained that the building did not perform well acoustically and there was not much space for performers backstage.
The other issue that arose was that the Danish architect Jørn Utzon could not complete the project in time which led to the increase in cost and eventually the project was taken out of Utzon’s hands. Utzon became entangled in political intrigue and he was thrown away by the press, and the Opera House was then finished by other designers under the supervision of Peter Hall.