An opera house shaped like a fossil, a balancing Jenga hotel made of shipping containers, restaurants in floating spheres reached by skywalks... these are just some of the the hi-tech, science-defying constructions that tourists will be flocking to visit in the not-too-distant future.
The name of the game seems to be more unthinkable, the better. Who, for example, has ever dreamt of staying in a giant balancing Rubik's cube in Slovakia's High Tatra Mountains?
One of the most innovative attractions due to open in the next few years will be found in Abu Dhabi, where the futuristic Saadiyat Island Cultural District will house the world's single largest concentration of cultural assets, complete with its own Louvre and the world's biggest Guggenheim museum, among other completely over-the-top attractions designed to lure culture vultures from around the world.
Hotel designs are pushing all the boundaries, too. Take the giant glass floating snowflake drifting effortlessly in the Norwegian Fjords. The five-star hotel Krystall in Tromso has been designed to push boundaries and at the same time will give uninterrupted view of the Northern Lights.
Then there's the much awaited Garden Bridge in London, which was given the green light at the end of 2014. Once it is built, the public garden and pedestrian crossing will provide a vital new route between north and south London, featuring plants, trees, woodland and meandering walkways - all hanging above the River Thames.
Take a look at the most exciting futuristic landmarks in our slideshow below...
Future tourist attractions
Hi-tech and science-defying: The tourist attractions of the future
At one-kilometre high, Phoenix Towers are set to become the world's tallest pair of towers. Designed by London-based architects Chetwoods, the eye-catching landmark will be built in Wuhan, the capital of central China. The towers will cover seven hectares of a 47-hectare site, situated on an island in a lake. They are expected to be built by 2018 and will include three large spheres suspended between the towers which represent planets orbiting them. These will house restaurants and be accessed via 'skywalks' from the Towers.
Hong Kong's Jenga-inspired hotel will consist of recycled shipping containers that can be inserted and removed, depending on the needs and business of the hotel. Hive-Inn is the creation of Slimane Ouahes and Christophe Barthelemy, of Ova Studio, who say its design lies in the idea of maximum flexibility and mobility, reflecting the modern way of living. The grid structure will allow containers to be slotted in and removed without disturbing the other container rooms.
The world's largest mountain carving will be located in the Black Hills of South Dakota, around 17 miles from Mount Rushmore, and once the sculpture is complete it will dwarf the four presidents and be over two American football fields wide. The Crazy Horse Memorial has been 67 years in the making after sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski began the project in 1948. Unfortunately, it could be beyond our lifetimes before the monument is finished.
London's Garden Bridge will be a public garden and pedestrian crossing, spanning the River Thames, linking the South Bank to Temple station and beyond. The stunning green attraction was designed by Heatherwick Studio and inspired by actress Joanna Lumley. The bridge promises to provide a vital new route between north and south London and feature plants, trees, woodland and meandering walkways to be used and enjoyed by all. Its ground-breaking design will add a new kind of public space into the fabric of the city, adding to London’s rich and diverse horticultural heritage.
Floating hotel Krystall is the creation of architects Dutch Docklands who believe they have developed the best way to view the Northern Lights in Norway. Located in Tromso, the five-star hotel is based on an ice crystal which blends in naturally with the winter environment between the beautiful fjords. Krystall will feature 86 rooms, conference facilities, and spa and wellness areas. The completely self-supporting and sustainable hotel will only be reachable by boat. It is expected to open by Christmas 2016 after work on the project starts this year.
Czech architecture firm Atelier 8000 is behind this incredibly sleek ski lodge that resembles a Rubik's cube wedged in ice. Kezmarska will be built in the High Tatra Mountains, a popular destination for skiers. The futuristic mountain lodge will have a facade built from aluminium, glass and solar panels. It will include four floors, with the underground floor featuring a garage for the snowmobile, a staff entrance, ski storage area and drying room. The ground floor will boast a restaurant and decking area, while guest rooms will fill the first and second floors. The attic will allow for extra sleeping accommodation and a meditation room.
Construction of China's knot-shaped Dragon King Kong Bridge was completed at the end of 2014 and once the LED system has been installed for the pedestrian bridge to change colour and the scaffolding removed, its final shape will be revealed. Dutch company NEXT Architects designed the twisted bridge for Changsha, the capital of southern China's Hunan Province. It is the first of its kind and combines the idea of the Chinese knot and the Mobius Ring. The pedestrian bridge will span 184m over the Longwanggang River. The largest width will be 11.5m, while the slimmest passage width will be just 2.5m. The bridge's design "echoes the neighbouring mountain ridges".
Five-star underground 'cave' hotel Shimao Wonderland Intercontinental will consist of 19 storeys in an abandoned quarry, just 30 miles from Shanghai. Many of the 370 rooms will be located underground. The Shimao Group, which is heading the project, said two storeys will be built underwater, 17 will be within the cave and two more will be above ground. The roof of the hotel will only be 15m above the cave. The hotel is based on the idea of taking advantage of the unique land form and creating a garden growing in the air, with guests able to view the 100m-high waterfall from their room window.
Chester Zoo will open its £30m new Islands project in 2015, after 18 months of working to recreate the amazing tropical environments of six South East Asian islands. It will be the biggest zoo development ever in Europe, spanning 50,000 square metres - the size of seven full-size football pitches. The attraction will take visitors across the islands via specially crafted bridges to discover some of the world's most amazing wildlife along the way, including the Sumatran tigers, Sumatran orangutans, Sulawesi macaques, Visayan warty pigs and the Sunda gharial crocodile. Islands at Chester Zoo includes Monsoon Forest, an immersive sub-tropical environment which will be the largest indoor zoo exhibit in the UK. It will feature a walk-through aviary and innovative enclosure design to get you closer to the exotic animals and plants.
This coastal hotel that looks like a coiled prehistoric fossil is the design of Oslo-based architect firm Snohetta, which will wind around the coast of Norway's Lofoten archipelago. The Lofoten Opera Hotel will be built close to the mountainous Glapen area, stretching out toward the sea to the south and south west, while creating a link between the ocean and the rugged mountains over in the north. The picturesque hotel will offer a unique view and sense of being amidst Earth's elements. The 11,000 square-metre building will accommodate the hotel, several apartments and a spa within its curvature. There will also be hiking facilities, sea water basins and an amphitheatre.
Opening later in 2015, Surf Snowdonia will be a revolutionary outdoor adventure destination - the first ever publicly accessible Wavegarden surfing lagoon. The attraction will use unique wave-generating engineering and technology to produce powerful and consistent surfing waves of varying heights up to two metres in the 300m-long lagoon. It is being constructed on what was a derelict former industrial site, with much of the material reused or recycled, including 25,000 cubic metres of concrete and 400 tonnes of metal.
Arguably the most ambitious cultural project ever conceived, Saadiyat Island Cultural District will house the world’s largest single concentration of premier cultural assets, including the Louvre Abu Dhabi, Zayed National Museum and Guggenheim Abu Dhabi – all designed by Pritzker prize winners. Located 500 metres off the coast of Abu Dhabi, the attraction will see the Louvre Abu Dhabi opening this year, with themed temporary exhibitions and loan pieces, followed by the Zayed National Museum in 2016, which will tell the history of the UAE and its cultural connections across the world. Designed by renowned architect Frank Gehry, the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi will open its doors in 2017 as the world's largest Guggenheim museum, which will present the most important artistic achievements of our time.
The Buenos Aires Forum could be home to the tallest tower in the world when construction is complete. The development's centrepiece is expected to be 3,300ft high and its design, by architect Julio Torcello, was based on the "geometrical image of the human genome". The attraction built in the River Plate is set to be completed in 2016 at a cost of $3.33 billion.
Dubai's Water Discus Hotel sits nine meters below sea level and will be the first of its breed when it opens later in 2015. The underwater hotel will consist of 21 suites and a sunbathing deck that sits above sea level. It comprises two discs - an underwater and above-water one, which will allow guests to admire the depths of the ocean while making the most of the warm climate. The two parts of the structure are connected by five solid legs and a vertical shaft containing a lift and stairway.
The world's first purpose-built commercial space airport is located in New Mexico and was dug into the desert to protect it from the extreme climate. Spaceport America will be home to Virgin Galactic's fleet of spaceships, where there will also be training facilities for space tourists who will be required to spend three days preparing for their trip. The £15 million terminal will house seven spacecraft developed by Voyager designer Burt Rutan. The fleet will be stored in a 9,300 square-metre hangar under the main building.
Set in the Caspian Sea, Azerbaijan's artificial islands will be complete with luxury villas, its own hotel and a business centre. Khazar Islands consists of 41 islands extending 11.6 square metres over the Caspian. A Formula One-quality racetrack is included in the plans, as well as the Azerbaijan Tower, the tallest building in the world.
New urban hub The Goods Line will open up a pedestrian and cycle network for residents and visitors to Sydney. The Line with stretch from Railway Square through Ultimo to Darling Harbour and will feature a series of elevated spaces for a variety of public entertainment and recreation activities. It will be 250 metres long and is expected to open in 2015.
Designed by renowned architect Zaha Hadid, Cambodia's Sleuk Rith Institute will be a new genocide memorial in the capital Phnom Penh, bringing together a museum, research centre, graduate school, document archives and research library. The memorial is the vision of human rights activist Youk Chhang, who founded the Institute as a focus for reflection, healing and reconciliation as well as an enlightening educational and research facility dedicated to commemorating the lives of the past. Construction is expected to begin in 2015.
Macau’s newest entertainment district is set to open its doors in the middle of 2015. Studio City Macau will be a cinematically-themed leisure and entertainment complex, home to a family entertainment centre, TV studio, five-star hotel, extensive dining venues and shopping mall. The art-deco style complex will feature 1,600 hotel rooms located between two towers and will boast Asia’s highest Ferris wheel, the 'Golden Eye' at 130 metres. The entertainment centre will also play host to a virtual-reality Batman Dark Flight ride, which will allow fans to soar over Gotham City and a Wonder Woman go karting track.
Set to open in 2017, the New York Wheel promises to be one of the world's great landmarks alongside New York's Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building. Located on the northeastern side of Staten Island, the 630-foot attraction will be the tallest observation wheel in the world and the only one in New York City. The Wheel will accommodate up to 1,440 people per ride, welcoming as many as 30,000 visitors per day and an anticipated four million visitors per year.
Dynamic reef developer Reef Worlds has designed the world’s largest sustainable underwater tourism site in Dubai. The revolutionary five-acre Pearl of Dubai is a unique site which resembles an ancient lost city with special fish habitats built throughout. Once opened, it will be an international dive and snorkel destination. Visitors will have free reign of the massive underwater empire. An opening date is yet to be announced.
Cybertecture Egg was inspired by looking at the world in terms of the planet, being a self-sustaining vessel with an ecosystem that allows life to exist, grow and evolve. Architects James Law Cybertecture designed the egg-shaped office building with 'cybertecture health' – interactive features that monitor the occupants' vital health statistics, like blood pressure and weight. The building in Mumbai will feature an elevated garden which moderated the temperature and rooftop wind turbines will generate electricity.
Plus Pool is the world's first water-filtering, floating pool, which will attract swimmers to New York's Hudson River. The project was launched after a Kickstarter campaign and aims to change the way New Yorkers view the river. Plus Pool is designer to filter the Hudson River it floats on through the walls of the pool, making it possible for visitors to swim in clean river water. It is expected to clean up to half a million gallons of water every single day.
Dawang Mountain Resort Area near the city of Changsha will be home to the Deep Pit Ice and Snow World, combining an Entertainment Ice World with an Indoor Ski Slope, a Water Park and restaurant and shopping facilities. Architects Coophimmelb(l)au designed the attraction, which will be built into beautiful landscape scenery and positioned directly on top of a historical cement mining quarry pit and lake. There will be an outdoor swimming pool, a 100 metre-high tower housing a five-star hotel and visitors walking or standing on the Cliffside Pathways will be able to look into the building through the transparent façade.
Designed by renowned Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, Rio de Janeiro's Museum of Tomorrow will be located in the Porto Maravilha cultural area and will offer tourists the opportunity to have a glimpse of future possibilities and explore how they will live and shape the planet in the next 50 years. The design celebrates the natural landscape and featured a cantilevered roof and facade with moving elements. The museum's grounds will feature gardens, a reflecting pool, a bike path and a recreation area.
The picture frame-shaped Unbalance Hotel in Peru is the creation of OOIIO Architecture which promises to add value to the landscape seen through it. Its location in front of the Pacific Ocean is in a quiet area outside the centre of Lima, hanging on a cliff. The hotel is set to be a landmark for more than eight million people who reside in Lima and will contain 125 rooms, restaurants and exhibition spaces.
Dubai's Mall of the World will be the world’s first temperature-controlled city within a city. The planet's biggest mall will be complete with a theme park, theatres and 100 hotels. It will cover 743,000 square metres - four times the size of the Metrocentre in Gateshead, the largest shopping centre in Europe - and will hold seven kilometres of thoroughfares based on London’s Oxford Street, a 'Broadway' theatre district and facilities for medical tourists. Set along Sheikh Zayed Road, Mall of the World will feature a dome which opens in the cooler months to allow people to enjoy the fresh air and close as the summer heats up.
Lakhta Center will be home to the first super tall skyscraper in St Petersburg, a scientific and educational complex, sports facilities and an outdoor amphitheatre. The 463-metre main tower is expected to be completed in 2018 and will become Russia's tallest building. A park at the site will be connected to St Petersburg's 300th anniversary park via a covered pedestrian bridge built across Lakhta Bay. The tower will feature 33 lifts and its facade will feature a unique type of glass to provide heat insulation and natural ventilation.
Sharq Crossing will be a set of three interconnected bridges spanning almost ten kilometres in Doha Bay. Designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrave, the bridge will connect the new Hamad International Airport, Katara Cultural Village and the West Bay financial district. Construction of the bridge will commence in 2015 and is expected to be completed by 2021. Ashghal, the Public Works Authority of Qatar, said the venture is "one of the most ambitious engineering projects ever undertaken in the Middle East." The bridges will accommodate up to 2,000 vehicles an hour per lane and will be flanked by a series of subsea tunnels.
It is already one of the most beautiful airports in the world, but once complete Singapore Changi Airport's new terminal will boast the world's tallest indoor waterfall, a large indoor park with native trees and plants, and walking trails. Jewel Changi Airport, also known as Project Jewel, is a £726 million terminal which will feature five storeys above ground and five below ground when it opens in 2018.
Hi-tech and science-defying: The tourist attractions of the future
When people think of Dubai the first image that springs to mind is most often the city's iconic Burj Al Arab, which is not just a marvellous example of the emirate's modern architecture but also one of the world's most luxurious hotels. Standing on its own island, the Burj Al Arab was designed by architect Tom Wright of WS Atkins whose challenge was to create a superstructure that was extravagant and luxurious while still reflecting Arabic heritage and Dubai's hospitality traditions - hence its billowing dhow sail shape, which represents the nation's seafaring heritage. The Burj Al Arab is an all-suite hotel with 24-hour butlers, a private beach and helicopter transfers for guests, as well as pretty much every luxury a hotel can offer! Visit jumeirah.com
This contemporary hotel close to Sao Paolo's largest green area Ibirapuera Park combines visually stunning architecture and modern design. The enormous half-moon building was designed by architect Ruy Ohtake, who achieved a boat-like shape, dramatic curving floors, circular windows and impossibly huge light-filled spaces, making Hotel Unique an urban work of art. The lobby is accentuated with beige marble walls and sharp, geometric themes. On the rooftop terrace you can enjoy some of the best views of the city, either from the sexy Skye restaurant and bar or the rooftop swimming pool. Visit hotelunique.com.br
Designed by Sir Gilbert Scott in 1865, London's St Pancras Renaissance Hotel is a fine example of High Victorian Gothic architecture in its most dramatic sense with intricate Gothic Revival metalwork, gold leaf ceilings, hand-stencilled wall designs and a legendary grand staircase. The five-star hotel preserves the glamour and romance of the old railway station during the 1800s and is one of the capital's most attractive landmarks. Discover the renovated Ladies Smoking Room, the first place in Europe where women could smoke in public, The Booking Office Bar, which was recreated in the original ticket office, and the luxurious St Pancras Spa, built in the original steam kitchen. Visit marriott.co.uk
Opening in July 2012, Endemico gives guests direct contact with nature in its luxury cabins staggered among boulders on a secluded hill in the wine-growing Valle de Guadalupe region. Each of the 20 cabins offer unobstructed views of the valley and blend in with the spectacular surroundings. The eco-friendly cabins are constructed from Corten steel and wood, and designed to intentionally weather over time so they fit with the natural setting. Inside there are sleek and simple furnishings, a king size bed and each has a private terrace with a clay kiva. There's also pool and whirlpool hidden among a rocky slope and a restaurant and bar that provide awe-inspiring views over the valley. Visit designhotels.com
Situated in the folkloric village of Viana do Castelo, the Axis Viana Business & SPA Hotel has a contemporary exterior made up of reflective aluminium, green stone and black glass. The building has overlapping stacked levels providing different perspectives, ranging from a full box frontal view and a complex column side view. In contrast to the exterior, the hotel's interior features white finishes, wood and stone. There are 88 rooms, a modern outdoor pool, an extensive spa with a Turkish bath, two swimming pools and a variety of massage treatments, plus fantastic views of the Lima River and the Mount St Luzia. Visit axishoteis.com
Its unique design makes the Bella Sky Comwell Hotel a spectacular skyscraper and striking landmark in the Copenhagen neighbourhood, Orestaden. Designed by 3XN, the hotel structure consists of two towers that are close and appear to be a shy pair leaning apart from each other. The tilt ensures that guests can enjoy the wonderful views over Amager Common and the vast Copenhagen skyline. Inside there are 812 designer rooms, a variety of bars and restaurants, plus a wide range of spa facilities. Visit bellaskycomwell.dk
Hotel Viura in Spain's wine-rich Rioja region is architecturally flamboyant and set against the backdrop of a traditional Spanish village. The striking bolthole, designed by owner-architects Joseba and Xabier Aramburu, has 33 cubed rooms piled nonchalantly on top of each other, with superb views of the village, mountains and a 17th-century church. The avant-garde hotel is a work of art and was designed to resemble a bunch of grapes. If you're an architecture buff, you'll want to visit the Ysios winery nearby, which was designed by Spanish artist Santiago Calatrava and offers contemporary design as well as fabulous wine. Visit hotelviura.com
Located in the heart of Pidong, Shanghai, the Jumeirah Himalayas Hotel is futuristic in design with Chinese cultural elements inspired by traditional feng shui principles. World-renowned architect Arata Isozaki designed the hotel in the form of the Yu Cong, an ancient Chinese ritual object that represents earth and heaven. The inspiration for the bold colours and rectangular shapes of the facade lighting come from Dutch artist Mondrian's Neoplastacism movement and the patterned walls wrapped around the base of the two towers were inspired by the ancient Chinese characters from the Tien Shu by Cang Jie. Inside there are 401 Chinese-style rooms, a large indoor screen in the lobby, multimedia animation art, which changes to reflect the beauty of the sky at different times of the day and live music performances in the lobby. Visit jumeirah.com
This distinctive hotel and Abu Dhabi landmark sits on the Yas Marina Circuit designed to reflect speed and spectacle. The iconic structure features the incredible Gridshell, which consists of a 219-metre expanse of sweeping steel and 5,096 diamond-shaped glass panels providing a veil that drapes over the two hotel towers, which are linked by a bridge crossing the Yas Marina Circuit. At night the effect is stunning with thousands of coloured lights against the sky, sea and desert landscape. Inside the five-star hotel, the filtered lights from the Gridshell highlight the contemporary spaces. The innovative rooms reflect the building's shape and character, the Skylite Lounge is the ultimate spot for relaxing after dark and the two rooftop pools offer beautiful sunset views. Visit viceroyhotelsandresorts.com
Deep wine-growing history meets 21st century avant-garde design at Hotel Marques de Riscal in Elciego, Spain. In case you hadn't guessed already, this striking hotel was designed by renowned architect Frank Gehry to embrace the past with the surrounding villages that provide a medieval setting and the future with the dazzling foil-like exterior. Hotel Marques de Riscal is nestled in the stunning Vinos de los Herederos del Marques de Riscal’s vineyard with the hotel's spectacular curves, titanium roof and asymmetric walls providing a magnificent contrast to the historic wine cellars designed in 1858. Inside there are 43 uniquely luxurious rooms and suites that are 'thrown' in two buildings connected by a suspended footbridge, a fabulous wine bar (of course!) and the Vinotherapie Spa Caudalie to keep with the vineyard theme. Visit starwoodhotels.com