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Culture Powerhouses: An Architectural Revolution


Will rival: Sydney Opera House

The buzz: A decade in the making, plagued by delays and spiralling costs (£69 million to £713 million), Hafen City’s will-it-ever-happen concert hall opens this January. It comprises a historic brick-warehouse foundation and a new Herzog & de Meuron-designed glass structure hovering above it. Supported by 362 steel strings, its top resembles crashing waves. Its 2,100-seat Grand Concert Hall was developed with Yasuhisa Toyota, one of the world’s top acousticians, so the sound will be sensational.

See: World-class orchestras, contemporary pianists, plus a one-man, musical drama starring John Maikovich.

Stay: The Fonte nay on Alster Lake, which has 131 light-filled rooms, arrives next summer. It’s the first five-star hotel to launch in the city for 18 years.


Will rival: The Louvre, Paris

The buzz: Set to ripple the art world in late 2017, this is the Louvre’s first outpost outside Paris. White-domed, futuristic and designed by Jean Nouvel, it floats just off the coast on Saadiyat Island, and the airy galleries are interspersed with pretty tidal pools.

The Louvre
The Louvre

See: Archaeological objects and fine art (Gauguin, Picasso). French museums will loan works, including Leonardo da Vinci’s La Belle Ferronniere.

Stay: Ian Schrager brings his Edition hotel brand to the Middle East in late 2017, with 200 slick rooms plus a clutch of residences.


Will rival: MoMa, NYC

The buzz: The first major gallery in Africa dedicated to modern African art, MoCAA, set in Cape Town’s Grain Silo building, launches early this year. The Twenties building has been reinvented by Thom as Heatherwick, with exhibition spaces carved out of its circular interior.

See: Co-founded by ex-Puma CEO Jochen Zeitz, MoCAA will house his renowned art collection, plus hold shows from the likes of contemporary artist Mohau Modisakeng.

Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art
Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art

Stay: Opening in March is The Silo, a smart hotel occupying the six floors above MoCAA (in what was once the building’s grain elevator). It will have 28 rain bow-hued rooms designed by Liz Biden.

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