The Architectural Masterpieces Worth Travelling For


Two leading architectural visionaries talk about the influential spaces that should be on your bucket list.

Moshe Safdie: "Fallingwater has been positioned where water spews out of its belly; the drama is extraordinary.”


Now in his eighties, Moshe Safdie has designed it all in his 50-year career, from museums to neighbourhoods and housing, plus liminal spaces such as Singapore’s Jewel Changi Airport.

Fallingwater is a country house designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. It’s in the woods in Pennsylvania, United States, and was built in 1936. It was a mature work of his mid-career; some said he was passé and behind the Modernist movement of the time. This house was his answer to that.

I visited many years ago on a travelling fellowship, with a group of students. The house is now owned by a foundation and it’s open to the public. From Pittsburgh, it’s a three-hour return drive so it’s a pilgrimage.

It was a new chapter for the architect, who was working in a more rustic way. The details are adventurous. It has horizontal concrete “trays” [or terraces] that are white and gleaming and look as if they defy gravity. Then you walk in and the floor is just slabs of flagstone and the window frames are red steel. There’s also a stone fireplace, which is the mother of all fireplaces because of its size and powerful presence. The details give it a crisp quality. 

Fallingwater is a masterpiece. It exemplifies the theme of indoor-outdoor, which Lloyd Wright is known for. Making architecture part of nature, discovering the secrets of a site and using the most advanced technology all work together to make it so.

Takeshi Hayatsu: "The Isamu Noguchi Garden Museum Japan is a work of art – not just the sculptures but the entire landscape.”

Isamu Noguchi Garden Museum

At his London design firm, Takeshi Hayatsu’s work spans high-end homes to exhibition spaces. He was named a finalist to design the British Pavilion at the 2018 Venice Biennale.

Isamu Noguchi was a Japanese-American Modernist sculptor. He mainly worked on stone sculptures but also designed parks, public spaces and kids’ play equipment. He lived in various places around the world [including Paris and New York] and the museum was one of his residences and workplaces. He chose Mure in Kagawa prefecture because it’s a quarry town and his long-standing assistant, stonemason Masatoshi Izumi, lived there. He built the [compound] in 1969.

The museum ( was originally Noguchi’s private residence. It’s only open to the public by appointment so it retains a sense of privacy. Inside, it’s quite intimate. The interiors are dark and lit with washi lamps, which are one of his famous works. The house and studio are 150-year-old timber merchant buildings made in the wattle and daub style, which is a wooden frame with a mud wall. It’s common practice in Japan and the frame can be dismantled and moved.

A circular stone wall encloses the outdoor workspace and his stone sculptures. The wall seems to reference prehistoric stone circles and the top is rounded, similar to Korean dry-stone walling, which is unusual in Japan. There’s a green mound behind the house, which is the site’s highest point and has an amazing view over the Seto Inland Sea and Mount Yashima.

Noguchi’s work is a huge influence on me. His sculptures [focus on] the texture of the surfaces and are often soft and rounded. He was also a sort of outsider. He was half Japanese, half American, which resonates with me as I’m from Japan and I live in the United Kingdom. My parents still live in Okayama prefecture, opposite Kagawa across the sea.

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