One of the flat-out coolest buildings I've come across recently is Jakob & MacFarlane's Orange Cube, in Lyon. It is, surprisingly, not a museum or cultural institution, but an office building. I'm typically not one for formal effects for their own sake
, but this building, while inventive, escapes that kind of navel-gazing trap. Actually, it is quite rationally planned: the cubic form conforms to its zoning envelope, and the large conical void is a deflected lightwell that would have been necessary in any case, but now directs views out to the water and promotes ventilation.
As for its iconicity, the architects hope it will draw attention to Lyon's neglected waterfront. “We were very aware of changing an area that was a depressed kind of no-man’s-land and giving it a new energy,” MacFarlane told me for a feature on the building for Architect
. For more on the project, including it's diaphanous orange veil, check it out.