Unusual Buildings from Across the World
The Crooked House (Sopot, Poland)
Inspired by the drawings of Per Dahlberg and Jan Marcin Szancer, the Crooked House (or Krzywy Domek in Polish) is a unique building with a cartoon-like architecture. With over 43,000 square feet of space, it is part of a shopping center called Rezydent. Boasting a very unconventional design by Szotińscy & Zaleski, the building has been attracting numerous curious visitors every year since it was first opened in 2004.
Nautilus House (Mexico City, Mexico)
Home to a family with two children, the Nautilus House represents a very original way of escaping the tumult of big cities. The owners wanted to live closer to nature and so they left the city life behind and moved into this colorful abode with a very apparent aquatic theme. The building was designed by Javier Senosiain, who is famous for his passion for organic architecture.
Habitat 67 (Montreal, Canada)
While some people say it’s one of the top 10 ugliest buildings in the world, other admire it originality and call it a masterpiece. Habitat 67 is now an instantly recognizable landmark in Montreal, Canada as a model community and really cool housing complex. Architect Moshe Safdie conceived the project for his master’s thesis and it was met with mixt feeling right from the beginning. Safdie still has his own penthouse in the complex.
The National Library (Minsk, Belarus)
A modern symbol of culture and knowledge, the National Library in Mink flaunts aremarkable architectural element shaped as a rhombicuboctahedron (yup, that is an actual shape name). It is a 236 foot building with 22 floors, and it has enough room for 2,000 avid readers at a time. It also has a large conference hall and an observation deck with a café on top.
Olympic Stadium (Montreal, Canada)
Built for the 1976 Olympic Games, this huge futuristic-looking structure has become an internationally-recognizable symbol of Montreal. Its most striking element is the inclined tower which is 541 feet tall and has a remarkable inclination of 45 degrees. This makes it the tallest inclined tower in the world.
Cubic Houses (Rotterdam, Netherlands)
The Cubic Houses in Rotterdam were built in the 1970s after a very original concept by architect Piet Blom, who imagined the design in 1984. He wanted to create an urban forest where each building would represent a stylized tree. One of the owners decided to open a “show cube”, which is a fully-furnished house that is open for visitors, so the curious can also get a peek at what the homes look like on the inside.
Air Force Academy Chapel (Colorado, USA)
North of Colorado Springs there is a certain chapel that is unlike any other you’ve seen. It was completed in 1962 for the Cadet Area at the U.S. Air Force Academy, after a bold and then-controversial design by Walter Netsch of SOM architectural firm. The 17-spire chapel is now an award-winning building and a National Historic Landmark as well.
Upside Down House (Szymbark, Poland)
This one looks like the hurricane brought Dorothy’s house back down on the ground, but didn’t quite manage to place it in the right position. It was built by Polish businessman Daniel Czapiewski, whose purpose was to ridicule the Communist times with this project. What is even more interesting, though, is that this type of constructions is actually more common than you would expect. The Upside Down house in Szymbark is not the only one of its kind.
This 335 foot tall construction was originally erected for the 1958 Brussels World’s Fair (Expo ’58). It was designed by architects André and Jean Polak together with engineer André Waterkeyn. While its shape may not say much to the uninitiated, a passionate chemist will instantly recognize the form of an iron crystal’s unit cell. Of course, the real thing is actually 165 billion times smaller. The 12 stainless steel spheres house various public spaces such as exhibit halls, and they can be accessed via escalators and an elevator. The top sphere offers amazing panoramas of the city. At night the Atomium sparkles beautifully with 2,970 lights.
Eden Project (Cornwall, UK)
You can’t go to Cornwall and not take time to visit the Eden Project. Flaunting a remarkable collection of plants from all across the globe, plus two artificial biomes dedicated to the Mediterranean and tropical environments, the complex is really amazing. The two large enclosures look like clumps of soap bubbles and are made of plastic cells placed on steel frames.
National Theater (Beijing, China)
Beijing’s National Theater is a wondrous sight! Often referred to as The Giant Egg, the building doesn’t actually have an egg-like shape. It is a dome with an ellipsoid shape, but it is surrounded by an artificial lake, which works as a mirror, reflecting its image and creating the illusion of an egg-like building. The structure is made of titanium and it is covered with glass. It flaunts over 129,000 square feet of space and can seat 5,452 people at once.
The National Stadium (Beijing, China)
Another stunner in Beijing is the amazing looking National Stadium, aka The Bird’s Nest. It was originally designed for the Summer Olympics and Paralympics of 2008, by a Swiss architecture firm called Herzog & de Meuron. Unfortunately, the stadium has failed to continue to attract sporting events after the Olympics, so a hotel and shopping center are planned to be opened nearby to increase the Nest’s popularity.
Experience Music Project (Seattle, USA)
EMP stands for Experience Music Project and it is a huge nonprofit museum in Seattle. Founded by Paul Allen, the co-founder of Microsoft, it is dedicated to contemporary pop culture. The oddly looking museum has held numerous exhibits since it was founded in 2000. It flaunts 140,000 square feet of space occupied by unique galleries, interactive activity stations and other exciting things. Many experts, however, consider this to be one of the world’s ugliest buildings.
Rotating Tower, Dubai, UAE
When this 80-story building will be completed sometime in the future, it will be the world’s first prefabricated skyscraper, with 90 percent of the structure having been being built off-site in a factory. But obviously, this is not the most remarkable thing about it. As its name suggests, this 1,378 foot skyscraper will be quite dynamic. Each of its floors will be able to rotate independently at speeds of up to 20 feet per minute. This will result in an ever-changing shape that will definitely mesmerize passers-by.
Wonderworks (Pigeon Forge, USA)
Probably the best thing about this upside down building is the palm trees around it, which also face downwards. Wonderworks’ slogan is “Le Your Imagination Run Wild”, which is very appropriate for a company whose buildingsare built with the roofs in the ground. The houses are actually entertainment centers that hold cool interactive science exhibits and even dinner magic shows.
Waldspirale (Darmstadt, Germany)
There are so many awesome things about this structure! First of all, it is very original in concept and architecture. Second, the building is environmentally friendly, as it is the country’s first construction made out of recycled concrete. Its name means “Forest Spiral”, which refers to its upwards spiraling shape, as well as to its green roof. The building’s interior courtyard seamlessly becomes a living roof with trees and lovely relaxation spots. It was designed by the late Friedensreich Hundertwasser , who was an acclaimed Austrian contemporary artist.
Dancing House (Prague, Czech Republic)
Prague’s Dancing House couldn’t have gotten a better moniker. Its two towers really do seem like being captured in the middle of a dynamic dance move, which also explains why they were sometimes referred to as “Fred and Ginger”. Designed in 1992 by architects Vlado Milunić and Frank Gehry, it now holds a number of offices and a lovely French restaurant at the top.
Palais Bulles (Cannes, France)
Sometimes attributed to designer Pierre Cardin, the Bubble House or Palais Bulles was actually designed by the legendary architect Antti Lovag, who specializes in organic architecture. This amazing villa is not the first of its kind, and it was originally designed for Count Pierre Bernard.
The Basket Building (Ohio, USA)
Unsurprisingly, the Basket Building is the headquarters of an American basket manufacturer called Longaberger. The company’s maple wood baskets are handmade and each piece bears its maker’s signature and the date at which it was finished. The most popular model is the Medium Market Basket, after which the headquarters building was designed. Some 160 times larger than the actual basket, the building has 7 floors and 180,000 square feet of space. Its massive handles weigh close to 150 tons and they need to be heated during the cold season to prevent snow and ice damage.
Bibliotheca Alexandrina (Egypt)
Bibliotheca Alexandrina, or the Library of Alexandria represents a modern commemoration of the original Library of Alexandia from antiquity. The new library’s position is close to where the original one was built before it was destroyed in the Roman times. It can hold 8 million books on its numerous shelves, but is also features a conference center, a planetarium, art galleries and a laboratory for manuscript restoration. There are several specialized libraries within the Bibliotheca Alexandrina: for the visually impaired, for children, for young people, for maps and for multimedia. The main reading space alone covers 750,000 square feet spread over 11 cascading levels.
Museum of Contemporary Art (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)
It had to be a contemporary design for this one! The amazing Museum of Contemporary Art in Rio de Janeiro is a UFO-like structure that sits on a single pillar that seems way too small for the size of the upper building. Apparently defying the laws of gravity, the museum was designed by Oscan Niemeyer.
Atlantis (Dubai, UAE)
Whenever you look for opulent and over-the-top luxury, Dubai is one destination that won’t let you down. Among the many amazing attractions there, The Palm artificial island is one of the best. And if you decide to go there on holiday, you simply must book a room or a suite at the Atlantis Hotel. Boasting beautiful Arabian features, the building’s main inspiration was the mythological Atlantis – a world of abundance and happiness. The 5-star resort spreads over 110 acres and includes a 42-acre water park.
Montreal Biosphere (Canada)
Another stunning museum is the Montreal Biosphere, which was established in 1967 and dedicated to the environment. Its architect was Buckminster Fuller, who imagined a geodesic dome made of steel and acrylic cells protecting the actual building inside. Unfortunately, only the steel frame is still there today, because a fire burned the transparent bubble in 1976. Even so, the structure looks very impressive, standing some 200 feet tall and measuring about 250 feet in diameter.
Chapel of the Holy Cross (Arizona, United States)
You can find this magnificent chapel among the already spectacular buttes of Sedona in Arizona. Local rancher and sculptor Marguerite Brunswig Staude found great inspiration in the Empire State Building and decided to commission a similar church in Europe, but was unable to do so because of the World War II. She did not give up on her idea, though, and later had the church built near her. In 1956 the building was completed and the next year it received the Award of Honor from the American Institute of Architects. It is now one of the Seven Man-Made wonders of Arizona.
Ryugyong Hotel (Pyongyang, North Korea)
This vast building is located in PyongYang, North Korea, and even though its construction began in 1987, it is still an ongoing project today, with the estimated date of completion unrevealed. It is a 105-story skyscraper with a unique pyramid-like shape. A serious economic crisis in Korea led to the halting of the construction process in 1992, and it was only in 2008 that the project was revived. But since then, its opening date has been postponed several times, which eventually led to its derisory moniker “The Hotel of Doom”.
Grand Lisboa (Macau)
The tallest building in Macau looks less like a building and more like a sculpture. It is an 856 foot tower designed by architects Dennis Lau and Ng Chun Man from Hong Kong. The building is mainly a hotel, but it also has a casino and several restaurants. It boasts 430 suites and rooms, as well as 1,000 slot machines and 800 mass gaming tables.
Bahá’í House of Worship a.k.a Lotus Temple (Delhi, India)
While it has an immense religious importance in India, the Lotus Temple is also a significant example of expressionist architecture. Designed by architect Fariborz Sahba, the religious building has a flawless lotus-like shape and is a prominent attraction in New Delhi. It is a place of worship that welcomes every believer of every denomination. Consequently, no ritualistic ceremonies or sermons can ever be practiced inside the temple. People are allowed, however, to do readings or to chant from holy writings of the Bahá’i Faith or other religions.
Erwin Wurm: House Attack (Viena, Austria)
Amusing to look at in pictures but a bit scary to walk under on the street, the House Attack is one of artist Erwin Wurm’s many puzzling, unexpected and even funny works. It was installed in a seemingly dangerous position on one of the rooftop edges of the Museum Moderner Kunst in Austria, and it used to be the first piece of contemporary artwork that visitors would see even before entering the museum. Today the house is no longer perched on the building.
Solar Furnace (Odeillo, France)
The largest solar furnace in the world is located in Odeillo, France. What this building does is not hard to guess if you consider its name. A solar furnace is a structure that uses solar heat for industry with help from parabolic mirrors that focus all the heat in one focal point. The temperatures in the focal point can reach 6,330 °F, which is enough to melt steel, generate electricity, and make nanomaterials or hydrogen fuel.
Druzhba Holiday Center Hall (Yalta, Ukraine)
Looking very much like a system of cogwheels, the Druzhba Holiday Center in Ukraine is a beach resort perched on a hill. The building’s stairs and elevators are located in the massive pillars that support the upper structure. It was designed by Igor Vasilevsky in the mid-1980s and it was once a pretty exclusive destination.
The Piano House (Anhui, China)
Some may call it tacky, others brilliant. The Piano House is located in Huainan, China, and was built in 2007. Its imaginative architects were student at the Hefei University of Technology. The enormous piano is now a showroom, and the giant glass violin provides access to the building via escalators. The top of the piano protects the rooftop terrace from the harsh sun.
Kunsthaus (Graz, Austria)
The last building on the list is again a museum. It was built in Graz, Austria in 2003, the year when the city was the Cultural Capital of Europe. As expected, the Kunsthaus specializes in contemporary art exhibitions, and one may also argue that the building itself is a work of contemporary art. It is affectionately referred to as the “Friendly Alien”. The museum’s architectural style is known as “blob architecture”, which makes it stand out against the much more traditional backdrop.