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The Most Loved Buildings in the World

Date Published: 24th May 2023

Category Study & Research

Author: Robyn

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Architectural wonders can amaze and inspire just as much as a work of art or musical composition. Whether a historical masterpiece from centuries ago or a contemporary marvel designed with the benefit of modern technology, buildings do more than put a roof over our heads.

From Gothic cathedrals to Art Deco skyscrapers, the finer details are what make a building's architecture memorable; the intricate patterns on the Taj Mahal's marble dome make it instantly recognisable to billions of people; and though initially controversial, it would be hard to imagine the Louvre in Paris without its distinctive I. M. Pei-designed glass pyramid.

It's also true that architecture polarises opinion. The UK, for example, has been engulfed in a century-long debate about the evolution of its architecture from traditionalism to modernism, with Brutalist designs, in particular, dividing the public. Britain's government has even set out controversial plans to establish a 'school of architecture' to prioritise traditional design principles with placemaking in its towns and cities.

True beauty lies in the eye of the beholder, but which structures do the people of the world love most? To find out, Buildworld has analysed Twitter posts about 6,000 of the planet's most famous landmarks and used sentiment-tracking AI to see which received the most praise for their design.

Key Findings

  • Osaka Castle in Japan is the world’s most loved building, according to 97.5% of Twitter posts about its design.
  • Ely Cathedral in Cambridgeshire, England, is most-loved by Twitter users in the UK, with 89.3% of posts praising its gothic architecture.
  • Fallingwater is the most loved building in the U.S., with 65.1% of tweets praising Frank Lloyd Wright’s iconic design.

Osaka Castle and Amsterdam's Rijksmuseum Are Among World's Most Loved Buildings

There is something about cathedrals and castles that people love the world over. Eight of the ten buildings that received the highest praise for their design in our research served as historic battlements or places of worship. However, the jewel in the crown is Osaka Castle - one of Japan's most famous and recognisable landmarks.

Instrumental in the 16th-century unification of Japan, the castle in its third-largest city is renowned for its distinctive 55m tall main tower, with its hip-and-gable roof pattern symbolic of historic Japanese and East Asian architecture. Though construction began in 1583, the castle and its grounds have undergone numerous restoration projects, most recently in the 1990s. Osaka Castle is best viewed during the Cherry Blossom blooming season of March and April (known as Hanami), where the castle park's 3000 Sakura trees are a majestic sight to behold as spring bursts to life.

Also receiving high praise for its design is Amsterdam's Rijksmuseum - the home of arts and history in the Netherlands. Designed by renowned local architect Pierre Cuypers and opened in 1885, its main building combines Gothic and Renaissance styles, with its two central towers invoking many of Europe's great cathedrals. Following a €375m restoration in 2013, the building has been restored to its Victorian glory, thanks to Spanish architecture firm Cruz y Ortiz Arquitectos, who painstakingly overhauled the museum's interior to handle the 2.7 million yearly visitors the museum receives.

Britain's Cathedrals and Castles Adored by Architecture Fans

Winston Churchill once famously said, "we shape our buildings; thereafter they shape us," and this notion is true of historic British architecture. Its famous towns and cities have been moulded by evolving design styles, from Tudor to Edwardian, but are often symbolised by a defining historic landmark.

Many places, including York, Canterbury and Durham, are famed for their cathedrals. Research from the Association of English Cathedrals shows that the country's 42 historic Anglican churches attract 9.5 million tourists and contribute more than £235m per year to a city's local economy.

The Top 10 Most Loved Buildings in the UK

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It's no surprise, then, that cathedrals and castles are universally loved in Twitter discourse, accounting for all ten of the most-loved British buildings in our research. Only one - St Paul's Cathedral is less than 400 years old, and most hail from a time when Catholicism was the dominant religion on the British Isles.

However, the church most loved for its design is Ely Cathedral, and 89.3% of tweets we analysed praised its Gothic architecture. The structure dates as far back as 1083, at a time when many places of worship were rebuilt following the Norman conquest of England in 1066. Today, it attracts more than 150,000 visitors per year and is rated among the most popular 10% of worldwide attractions on TripAdvisor.

New York City Landmarks Loved for their Design

American architecture can trace its origins back to the days of colonialism, where building styles mirrored those in France, Spain and the UK. However, it has evolved in many different ways since then, often setting the trends with ambitious and opulent design - seen most notably in the adoption of the Art Deco style in the 1920s and 1930s.

The mid-20th century also saw American architects popularise modernism, thanks to the life's work of Frank Lloyd Wright. The style is characterised by the use of glass, steel and concrete while emphasising geometric shapes and open spaces. Lloyd Wright's iconic modernist Fallingwater estate, according to our research, is the most loved building in the U.S., with 65.1% of Twitter posts about the building praising its design.

Constructed as a private residence over a waterfall and tucked away in southwest Pennsylvania, about 70 miles from Pittsburgh, Fallingwater is regarded as Lloyd Wright's best work. It earned him national recognition on a Time magazine cover in 1938 which described the home as his "most beautiful job."

The Top 10 Most Loved Buildings in the US

Click here to see the image in full size

Our analysis shows that architecture fans are enamoured with many of New York City's most famous buildings, though Lloyd Wright's iconic Guggenheim Museum does not feature. With 63% of tweets in praise of its Art Deco design, Manhattan's iconic Empire State Building is America's second-most loved building. It opened as the world's tallest building in 1931 and was recognised by the American Institute of Architects as the country's favourite building in a 2007 poll.

Traditional or Modern; Beautiful Buildings Are Everywhere

Engineers and constructors have been designing structures for centuries, and architecture is as much about expressing one's culture as it is to protect us from the elements. Canadian-American architect Frank Gehry once said that "architecture should speak of its time and place, but yearn for timelessness."

For many of the world's best-loved buildings, from 20th-century modernist gems like the Empire State Building and Fallingwater to the historic English cathedrals of Ely and Lincoln, their design reflects their era of construction but also acts as a timeless statement for future generations to enjoy and preserve.

You can introduce the same beautiful look and stunning design of these most loved buildings in your home with a helping hand from Buildworld. For the lovers of wooden decor, we feature internal doors with oak, pine, walnut and flush veneers. For those who are looking for something different, take a look at your range of coloured doors. We have something for everyone, and at reasonable prices, too.

Methodology

To rank the most loved buildings in the world, we started by building a seed list of the most famous buildings from every country, using manual research. This gave us a seed list of 6,000 buildings spanning every country in the world.

We then used Twitter to search for the name of each building plus a set of keywords to obtain all tweets that reflected the opinion of the public regarding its design. The gathered tweets were filtered to ensure they talked about the design of the buildings. We used an AI algorithm from HuggingFace to extract the sentiment from the collected tweets, and then we ranked the buildings based on the percentage of positive tweets about the designs.

We only extracted tweets in English, so it's worth noting the results are biased toward the sentiment of English speakers.

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