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Opera House at 40 is Australia's top icon

Sydney's celebrated Opera House was Thursday declared Australia's best-known icon ahead of its 40th birthday this weekend, in a report that said it was worth Aus$775 million to the economy every year. The Opera House is more highly esteemed abroad than "national brand Australia itself", accounting firm Deloitte said in a report prepared to coincide with the 40th anniversary of the building's opening Sunday. The Opera House injected Aus$775 million (US$740 million) into the economy every year both directly and by attracting tourists to the country, the report found.

Japanese architect leads group saying planned stadium for 2020 Tokyo Olympics is too big

TOKYO - A prominent Japanese architect is campaigning to reduce the size of the spaceship-like main stadium approved for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, saying it's too expensive and would clash with its surroundings. Fumihiko Maki, who has designed some spectacular buildings of his own, says he's not criticizing the design of the stadium by award-winning British-Iraqi architect Zaha Hadid, just the size. His office says he has the support of 100 other well-known people in Japan, including architects.

Chinese developers invest to build replica of London's Crystal Palace, a Victorian wonder

LONDON - A symbol of Britain's worldwide power during the 19th century will be rebuilt in London — with money from Chinese developers. London officials announced Thursday that the Crystal Palace, the huge Victorian exhibition centre that was once the largest glass structure in the world, will be brought back to life with a 500 million pound ($811 million) investment from Shanghai-based real estate firm ZhongRong Group.

Video reveals final design of Barcelona's Sagrada Familia

It has been under construction for more than 130 years and there is another 13 to go, but the world has been given a glimpse of what Barcelona's Sagrada Familia will look like when finally completed. A 3D video has been released by the Sagrada Familia Foundation, the body responsible for overseeing the building project, which shows the ornate and gigantic cathedral in 2026, the date when the last brick will be laid. That year will also be the centenary of the death of the building's architect, Antoni Gaudi, who was killed aged 73 after being stuck by a tram in 1926.

Japan's Lixil acquires Grohe in biggest investment in Germany by Japan

TOKYO - Japanese building materials company Lixil Corp. is buying bathroom fittings maker Grohe for 3.06 billion euros ($4.1 billion) in the biggest investment in Germany by a Japanese company. The companies said Thursday that Lixil, which has been eager to expand overseas, will acquire an 87.5 per cent stake in Grohe Group through a joint venture with the Development Bank of Japan. Grohe makes luxury bathroom, shower and kitchen products. The transaction still needs regulatory approval.

UAE has the world's 'vainest' skyscrapers: report

By Tom Bill LONDON (Reuters) - The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has the "vainest" skyscrapers in the world, a report measuring the extent of spires and other height-boosting additions to the top of buildings said on Thursday. The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) said unusable space at the top of the UAE's 19 tallest buildings was an average 19 percent of their total height, a measure it called the "vanity height".

China to fine sloppy pee-ers

The city of Shenzen plans to crack down on urinators who miss their mark – provoking online derision over how the rule will be enforced. The pee fine will apply to those who urinate outside the bowl of facilities in Shenzhen, the southern boom town neighbouring Hong Kong, although draft regulations seen by AFP did not specify a minimum quantity of spillage required to be classed as a violation.

Holcim reports profit leap, but sales disappoint

Swiss cement group Holcim surprised with a near 50-percent leap in net profit for the first half of the year on Thursday but also reported that sales fell. The group, which is working to crimp costs, said that the net figure rose by 47.4 percent to 571 million Swiss francs (460.6 million euros, $612.3 million). Cement and concrete are important indicators of economic activity since they are tied to activity in the construction industry which reacts quickly to the general climate for business and household confidence.

First skyscraper race held in China

Hundreds of runners in China sprinted their way up 82 floors and more than 2000 stairs as the country's first ever "vertical run" was held in a Beijing skyscraper on Saturday. Thomas Dold of Germany emerged on top of the 330 metre (1080 feet) tall China World Trade Center Tower 3, Beijing's tallest building, just 10 minutes and 22 seconds after setting off from its ground floor to take the men's title. "You have to run between three and four steps per second," Dold said, adding that he had bounded up the building's 2041 stairs two at a time.

First skyscraper race held in China

Hundreds of runners in China sprinted their way up 82 floors and more than 2000 stairs as the country's first ever "vertical run" was held in a Beijing skyscraper on Saturday. Thomas Dold of Germany emerged on top of the 330 metre (1080 feet) tall China World Trade Center Tower 3, Beijing's tallest building, just 10 minutes and 22 seconds after setting off from its ground floor to take the men's title. "You have to run between three and four steps per second," Dold said, adding that he had bounded up the building's 2041 stairs two at a time.
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