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The Traveller's Magazine
  •   3 min read

What attracts twenty-first century travellers more? Age-old Renaissance splendour or cutting-edge design fit for the future? There’s a place for both, no doubt, but right now it’s all about the design age and these cities are at the forefront of welcoming future travellers.

Weil am Rhein, Germany

Virtra Furniture

Although small, this Basel suburb boasts its fair share. It sits pretty on the east side of the River Rhine and attracts travellers with a keen eye for design. Why? It’s home to Vitra, a manufacturer of designer furniture whose buildings are designed by the likes of Frank Gehry, Zaha Hadid and Tadao Ando. The Vitra Design Museum has become internationally renown since it was founded in the late 1980s.

Flights to Germany

Doha, Qatar

Museum of Islamic Art

If there is one thing about this Middle-Eastern city that dispels the myth that it’s a hidden Arabia, which it’s not, is it’s ultra-modern architecture. The waterfront promenade is spotted with modern art, tall palms on one side, on the other a futuristic city skyline stretches to the sky above. The most iconic building along Al-Corniche though, is the Islamic Arts Museum, one architects modern take on an Egyptian mosque.

Flights to Doha

Toronto, Canada

Ontario College of Art and Design

Urban design is taking over Canada’s biggest city and Toronto has never looked so fresh. The striking Ontario College of Arts and Design on McCaul Street and the Art Gallery of Ontario which was redone by Frank Gehry on Dundas Street West are two of the cities newest additions to the modern architecture scene. The Royal Ontario Museum’s new face by Daniel Libeskind is under-way while classic store fronts on Queen West keep the city centre grounded.

Flights to Toronto

Chicago, USA

Chicago Cloud Gate

From Millennium Park to the eco-roof on the Hall, the Windy City is known in the USA as one of the country’s leading cities in terms of modern architecture. Is saying it’s the birthplace of the greatest urban design going too far? Must-sees on any city tour include the Cloud Gate in the AT&T Plaza, Jay Pritzker Pavilion and a stroll down the Magnificent Mile (Michigan Ave. from Chicago River to Oak Street) to scope out some unique skyscrapers.

Flights to Chicago

Shenzhen, China

Shenzhen China

Shenzhen is home to likely the world’s only horizontal skyscraper. The Vanke Center is as long as the Empire State Building is tall and it’s set atop dozens of illuminate stilts above picturesque ponds and tropical gardens. Most of it is offices, but a 200-room hotel will open here later in 2011. The rest of the city follows suit perfectly, just take a look at city hall and hip eateries like the Honeycomb Restaurant. Business cities like Shenzhen definitely don’t have to be boring.

Flights to Shenzhen

Where in the world have you seen spectacular design? Which other destinations should be included in the world’s coolest design cities?

Imgs: germany: nutbird / doha: hulivili / toronto: ethankan / chicago: adash, Flickr cc. china: Dezeen

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