10 Young Architects Transforming Urban Skylines Around the World

Mastering the world of architecture generally takes time and patience. However, this elite group of young archtects already has it figured out.

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Complex Original

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Architecture constitutes both the physical and social structures of our world, and it is the task of the architect to balance and optimize both realms. It’s no easy task though—architecture school is a long and arduous pursuit, the profession is a revolving door of competitions, certifications, and continuing education, and the practice can be a minefield of delays, revisions, and bureaucratic red tape. It takes time and dedication to erect buildings.

It’s all the more impressive, then, that the 10 listed here have amassed such extensive résumés and impressive portfolios in relatively no time at all—in most cases under 40 years. These accomplished young architects have imagined and executed large-scale transformations in urban environments around the world—from public and institutional projects to vast private developments. With bold forms and innovative functions, they are reshaping our surroundings as well as our communities. Here are 10 Young Architects Transforming Urban Skylines Around the World.

Garrett Ricciardi

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Location: Brooklyn

Firm: formlessfinder

Garrett Ricciardi has a strong background in visual art and conceptual practice, so it’s no big surprise that his architecture firm has an experimental edge to it. Co-founded with partner and Princeton classmate Julian Rose, formlessfinder eschews form as a guiding factor in its projects, hence the company’s name. Instead, it allows materials and processes to generate the final look of a structure or installation. The company’s contribution to the Design Miami/ 2013 was called Tent Pile, a giant mound of white sand that served as part playground, part column supporting a large white tent shading the entrance to the exhibition.


Kunlé Adeyemi

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Location: Lagos, Nigeria and Amsterdam, Netherlands

Firm: NLÉ

Kunlé Adeyemi has directed huge commercial projects internationally, such as the Stock Exchange building in Shenzhen, China and a rotating art gallery for Prada in Seoul, South Korea. But he also works to harness the social power of architecture in his native Nigeria. He is particularly interested in addressing problems brought on by rapid urban growth and climate change in African coastal cities and waterfront communities. Projects like the Floating School in Makoko, a particularly overcrowded and flood-prone area in Lagos, offer solutions that utilize the changing landscape and local, eco-friendly materials to meet the needs of the community.


Alok Shetty

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Location: Bangalore, India

Firm: Bhumiputra Architecture

Alok Shetty started his firm Bhumiputra Architecture when he was just 19 years old, and at the ripe age of 28, he shows no signs of slowing down. He excels at conceptualizing efficient designs made from renewable, local, and recycled materials, accounting for environmental and economic concerns to design sustainable spaces that serve the developing world. For a slum in his native Bangalore, he has developed flood-proof houses that cost as little as $300 each. Recently, he has also designed mobile units that can become clinics and classrooms for communities in need using the country’s vast network of existing train tracks.


Fabrizio Barozzi & Alberto Veiga

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Location: Barcelona, Spain

Firm: Estudio Barozzi Veiga

Italian-born Fabrizio Barozzi and Santiago native Alberto Veiga are a dynamic design duo, creating thoroughly modern buildings that respond formally to the individuality of their surroundings. For the recently completed Szczecin Philharmonic Hall in Poland, they mimicked the steeply sloped roofs of the village's traditional architecture in the jagged facade. The glass exterior brings a contemporary look while reflecting, quite literally, the city around it.


Ma Yansong

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Location: Beijing, China

Firm: MAD

Last month, Chinese president Xi Jinping announced that no more “weird buildings” should be constructed in China. It’s a good thing, then, that the undulating, futuristic, and decidedly weird designs of Ma Yangsong’s MAD Architects, with partners Dang Qun and Yosuke Hayano, have landed projects all around the world. The twisted columns of the Absolute Towers, a residential complex in Mississauga, Canada, are prime examples of their careful blend of organic and urban influences.


Diego Van Der Laat

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Location: San Jose, Costa Rica

Firm: sanjosereves

Diego van der Laat is a rising star in Central American architecture. Since founding his studio in 2007, he has already produced several major public projects in San Jose. His Museo de Jade is designed to look like a rock that has been heaved in two, referencing the collection of stones within while making a bold statement on street.


Melike Altinisik

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Location: Istanbul, Turkey

Firm: Salon Architects

Melike Altinisik is no stranger to success, having worked for the famous architect Zaha Hadid before co-founding her own studio, Salon Architects, with partner Alper Derinboğaz. Together, they excel in designing dynamic spaces for mass use, such as museums, parks, and housing complexes. At the Ataköy Marina in Istanbul, they have envisioned a commercial and cultural compound as a welcoming harbor for cruise ship tourism, complete with a glittering opera house.


Bjarke Ingels

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Location: Copenhagen, Denmark

Firm: Bjarke Ingels Group

Superstar architect Bjarke Ingles sits at the creative helm of his enormous, eponymous global firm, steering straight for the canon of 21st century architecture. Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) combines characteristic Scandinavian functionality and ecological pragmatism with playful forms and unexpected features. BIG is currently constructing a pyramid-shaped apartment building along the western waterfront in midtown Manhattan, truly adding a new shape to the New York City skyline.


Jonathan Holmes, Martin Labbé, Carolina Portugues, & Osvaldo Spichiger

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Location: Valparaíso, Chile

Firm: HLPS

Friends from college, the creative minds of Jonathan Holmes, Martin Labbé, Carolina Portugues, and Osvaldo Spichiger came together to form the acronymic firm HLDS. Together they won a competition to rejuvenate an old fort in Valparaíso. Constructed on the site of a former prison, the strong, straightforward concrete slab buildings soberly reference the site’s history, but now it’s all about houses music, dance, art, sports, and other cultural activities. The once cold and confined spaces are now an open and welcoming public park and community center.


Zahava Elenberg

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Location: Melbourne, Australia

Firm: Elenberg Fraser

Zahava Elenberg has run her own architecture practice since the age of 24, more recently adding businesses for property development and residential furnishing. Together with her husband Callum Fraser, she erects sleek and sculptural skyscrapers across the Melbourne landscape. The apartment building Tower Melbourne, in construction, will be a thin, shining column marked by irregularly protruding windows, creating the effect of a wave across the facade. Intended to become an icon for Melbourne, at 71 stories high, it will dominate its immediate surroundings and rank among the tallest buildings in the city.


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