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15 Bizarre Buildings

26 January 2011 37 Comments

Architecture can amaze us in so many ways. There are structures that can make our jaw drop because of their beauty while others are so grandiose to look at. They are also usually those kind of buildings that convince us to take a double-take on our camera. They look strange, silly, weird, and sometimes, funny.

These are the structures that challenge our vision and trick our mind, each time we take another look at them; it takes us back to the awe that architecture always manages to convey. Here are 15 buildings that will surely get a double-take once you get around them.

1. Dancing Building (Prague, Czech Republic)

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4. Dancing Building (Prague, Czech Republic)

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The Dancing House is found in Prague, Czech Republic. It is the term coined by the locals to the Nationale-Nederlanden building that was designed by architect Vlado Milunic along with Frank Gehry. The building was built from 1992 to 1996.

The unique design of a bent building was very nontraditional during their time and took a lot of criticism from the public. However, the Czech president Vaclav Havel gave his full support to the project, stating that this can be a center for the arts and culture in the coming years.

Its original name was supposed to be Fred and Ginger, after the famous dancers Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. But the building starting getting nicknames from the locals, one of the most courageous being the Drunk House. Nowadays, the building houses various multinational firms and some of Prague’s top restaurants.

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2. The Crooked House (Sopot, Poland)

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The Crooked House is a very unusual house found in Sopot, Poland. It was designed by Szotynscy Zaleski and was built in 2004. In erecting this piece of architecture, he was inspired children’s drawing books. Don’t be so shocked if you’ll find similarities between Jan Marcin Szancer fairytales drawing books or Per Dahlberg’s artworks and Zaleski’s Crooked House. These were the main sources of inspiration for the Crooked House.

The structure has three stories and is built amongst a row of houses in Bohaterow Monte Cassino Street. It looks as if it was the most “tired” design of house in the world, but there are some that say that it looks like it is melted. Many visitors in Poland go to Sopot to take a look at The Crooked House. It is dubbed as one of the most photographed buildings in the whole country. It houses pubs, restaurants and several shops.

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3. Corpus Museum (A44 highway, Netherlands)

Corpus Museum (A44 highway, Netherlands)

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This is indubitably one of the most awkward museums the Netherlands hosts. And when it comes to offbeat museums, the Low Countries sure have plenty to offer. The building is in fact a 35 meters high transparent structure that contours half of a sitting human body. Inside, fiberglass is used to resemble the real inside of a human being body.

Exploring this unusual museum is definitely an educational journey, since it will answer questions such as “Why do I have to sleep?” or “What happens when I sneeze?”. The unique experience is provided by the latest imagery technologies, which use fascinating sounds and 3D effects to explain all the aspects of a functional human body.

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4. The Basket Building (Ohio, United States)

2. The Basket Building (Newark, United States)

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The Basket Building from Ohio, United States is the headquarters of Longaberger Basket Company. It is a replica of Longaberger’s medium market basket, magnified 160 times. It is 192 feet long and 126 feet wide at the basis, while on the roof it is 208 feet long and 142 feet wide. It is a delight to look at the giant basket at night as the windows, supposedly the holes of the basket, light up.

Dave Longaberger is the founder of the company and he was the one who envisioned having a giant basket as the headquarters of his company. It shortly became an iconic symbol of their company as well as one of the most popular office buildings in the world. It is, after all, the largest basket on the planet!

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5. Wonderworks (Pigeon Forge, United States)

3. Wonderworks (Pigeon Forge, United States)

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Wonderworks is Tennessee’s number one attraction. It is a museum that houses many different interactive modules that will trick one’s mind and body. Its ultimate purpose is to serve as a great educational tool for children and for adults as well.

However, Wonderworks is more than just a museum and more than just a normal attraction. When you arrive at Wonderworks, only seeing the sight of this remarkable structure will make your jaw drop. The façade of the museum is an upside down tilted structure, therefore when you will start your adventure you will have to be inverted as well. It is a perfect start to a day that will be filled with mind boggling adventures.

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6. The Hole House (Texas, United States)

5. The Hole House (Texas, United States)

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During the summer of the year 2005, many people who were along Montrose Boulevard in Houston, Texas were appalled by a house that was struck by a passing tornado. There raging force of the storm hoed a hole from the front to the back of the house and it somehow looked like it was a horizontal chimney was build built horizontally through the house. This vortex of wreckage can clearly be seen on the front of that house.

The Hole House is the public art piece made by Dan Havel and Dean Ruck. They called it “Inversion” and it is in fact a wonderful optical illusion which struck many viewers. It was a very successful art project that created a huge hole into the house, amidst a wreckage of wood. This very unique piece of architecture gained a lot of popularity not only in the United States, but all over the world.

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7. House Attack (Vienna, Austria)

6. House Attack (Vienna, Austria) Image

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Erwin Wurm, a renowned Austrian artist, created House Attack in 2008, a house installed to be hanging upside down on Museum Moderner Kunst’s external façade. He feels that this is a symbol of families all over the world being plunged into everyday worries and challenges. The technical purpose of this project is to inspire the architects all over the world. It stands for a more obvious broadening of the architectural thinking that should not bound within the so-called “normal” limits.

For Erwin Wurm, anything can be a sculpture such as actions, instructions or thoughts. He is an artist that takes simple concepts then adds physical deformations to trick the eye and the mind.

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8. Hotel Marques de Riscal (Elciego, Spain)

7. Hotel Marques de Riscal (Elciego, Spain)

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This was rather another daring design of Frank Gehry, one of the most successful American architects of all time. This building is part of a major project, indented to boost up the tourist numbers in the region. Traditionally a non-public wine maker region, this area needed a strong statement that should underline a major shift in the branch’s hospitality. Instead of fitting in the local environment, Gehry’s new building stands over the surroundings. It is literally listed above the site on columns, in order to provide great views over the vineyards.

The structure is formed out of cubical concrete elements, covered by the huge titanium, gold and stainless sweeping panels. Each room of this amazing hotel is different, making a stay here not just a unique experience from the outside, but also from the inside.

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9. Blur Building (Yverdon-les-Bainz, Switzerland)

8. Blur Building (Yverdon-les-Bainz, Switzerland)

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Located on Lake Neuchatel, in Yverdon-les-Bainz, Switzerland, the Blur Building was built for the Swiss Expo in 2002 as an exhibition pavilion. Regarded as an architecture that blends into its surroundings, the Blur Building measures 300 feet wide, 200 feet deep and 75 feet high, and has a surface of 80,000 square feet.

Water is pumped from the Lake Neuchatel, filtered and cleared, then shot over the structure as tiny particles resembling mist through high pressure nozzles. A smart weather system monitors the shifting climactic conditions of temperature, humidity, wind speed, direction, and processes the data in a central computer that regulates water pressure to an array of 31,500 nozzles.

Upon entering the fog of the Blur Building, visual and acoustic references are erased, leaving only an optical “white-out” and the “white-noise” of pulsing mist nozzles. Blur is decidedly low-definition: there is nothing to see but our dependence on vision itself.

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10. Errante Guest House (Chile)

9. Errante Guest House (Chile)

 

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The Errante Guest House in Chile is a very unique structure, built in a way that looks like it was dilapidated or that is about to fall any second. To others, the house might look like it was struck by a hurricane or an earthquake and this is what remained from a regular house. Its sloping surfaces definitely make it an eye catching attraction for many tourists visiting Chile.

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11. National Architects Union Headquarters (Bucharest, Romania)

10. National Architects Union Headquarters (Bucharest, Romania)

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This unusual building located in Bucharest, Romania combines in an odd an intriguing way old architecture, represented by a restored structure with modern glass building, sitting nestled into the old one. The National Architects Union Headquarters is certainly a head turner and can be found on Calea Victoriei. Built in the second half of the 19th century for a politician, the house quickly became a meeting place of the intellectual elite of that time.

The house was later destroyed in the midst of fire, when the anti-Communist revolution started in 1989. It remained untouched for 10 years, as a symbol of democratic victory and was later renovated by top Romanian architects. Today, the redesign of the old house remains challenged, since many people say it barely fits the scenery. All in all, it is a great idea of combining the old and the new in architecture.

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12. Bolwoningen (Hertogenbosch, Netherlands)

11. Bolwoningen (Hertogenbosch, Netherlands) Image

The Bolwoningen housing in Maaspoort, a district of the Dutch city Hertogenbosch were designed in the 1970s as an experimental building. The mastermind behind these unusual livable capsules is Dries Kreij Camp, a famous architect during that time. The houses shaped like golf balls are his attempt at a new social environment that truly stands apart. The Bolwoningen also have some unusual floor plans – the toilets and bathrooms are placed in the middle of the ball while the living room is located upstairs and the bedrooms downstairs.

The capsule has a diameter of 5.5 meters or 18 feet, with a front side shaped like an airplane floor and has six round windows. The advantages with this type of structure are that they need no type of foundation, are low maintenance and low energy. They are lightweight, can be easily put together or transported.

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13. Nakagin Capsule Towers (Tokyo, Japan)

12. Nakagin Capsule Towers (Tokyo, Japan)

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In a country where space becomes more and more expensive, the Nakagin Capsule is a mixed-use residential and office building built in 1972. Designed by architect Kisho Kurokawa, the structure is one of the few examples of Japanese Metabolism, a concept that went beyond traditional form, trying to accommodate the society’s growth with flexible and expandable structures.

The building is made of two connected towers, each with self-contained units; a capsule measures 2.3 m (8 ft) × 3.8 m (12 ft) × 2.1 m (7 ft) and can be used either as a living or office space. Capsules can be connected to create a larger usable space; they are also attached independently and can be easily removed from the entire structure. In 2007, residents voted to demolish the Nakagin Towers and replaced it with a larger tower; a plan to rebuild the existing structure is on the way but has been delayed due to the economic recession.

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14. Tianzi Hotel (Hebei, China)

The Emperor Hotel

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If you ever get to Hebei, China and you try to take a picture of this astonishing building, keep in mind that Tianzi Hotel has several other names as well. The Emperor Hotel or Son of Heaven Hotel are a couple more names you should try, if you’re unsuccessful when you attempt to get good directions. The 10-story building was erected sometime around 2000/2001. It is in fact a 41.6 m high representation of Fu Lu Shou, deities that are believed to bring good fortune, prosperity and longevity.

After its construction, the hotel won a Guiness World Record for being “the world’s biggest image building”.

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15. Inntel Hotel (Zaandam, Netherlands)

Inntel Hotel (Zaandam, Netherlands)

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The city with the first European McDonalds is also the first city on the old continent to be hosting the first hotel made of stacked traditional houses. This 12 storey building was designed by the Dutch architects from WAM and it is a leading piece of architecture that marks the city center’s regeneration. The structure is considered to be a reinvigoration of the local tradition, since it represents a collection of façades based on the customary Zaanstad houses.

The innovative design of the hotel contours the concept on which the hotel relies: “a home from home, rather than concrete boxes”. The whole project had a total cost of €15 million and it eventually opened in the autumn of 2010. Customers can choose from 160 rooms and it is more likely not to be the only category of tourists that will take a picture with the pileup Dutch houses.

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37 Comments »

  • prustage said:

    I love all of these except the egregious basket building. The rest exhibit charm, humour and originality but that basket building is just cheap and nasty commercial kitsch and doesnt belong here.

  • ryley said:

    The grande prairie regional college is way wierder.

  • THAT WAS said:

    a wonderful viral art exhibit.

  • jape said:

    Should included the Cleveland Clinic commissioned by Whiting-Turner.

  • Arjun Gehlot said:

    Totally awesome. I have to visit the Inntel Hotel at some point in time in my life.

  • Mieu said:

    What about this one? This is an interesting building:

    Experience Music Project by Frank Gehry, at Seattle, Washington

  • nathan said:

    like how theyre mostly in europe… wish we could make cool buildings in the U.S :/

  • Nic said:

    Wow the tianzi hotel – a must visit on my travels

  • Silvertongue62 said:

    I would love to see them all in person…..

  • Hannah said:

    I happen to find the basket building nothing short of endearing. I find Prustage’s comment tasteless and happen to believe that this very inventive and unusual building fits perfectly into this list.

    I wonder how the Corpus Museum could possibly exude any sort of charm, or the Errante Guest House any appeal.

  • BEMe said:

    Cool – the Longaberger building in Dresden, Ohio is my fav

  • jaybee said:

    the one in houston texas is the best!!!

  • fajas colombianas said:

    That hole house is nauziating.

  • Rob Cheese said:

    The house attack, Austria is very different. Love it!

  • eg said:

    The Blur Building no longer exists… so no dice visiting that anymore.

  • Liz Hoffmann said:

    The basket house is a factory where baskets are made. I think all of these architectural miracles, natural or otherwise, are incredible.

  • James said:

    @Liz Hoffmann “I think all of these architectural miracles, natural or otherwise, are incredible.” er no Liz.

    See Channel Tunnel/Pyramid for architectural miracles. These are in some cases stupid – see basket building, in most cases cool.

    Do you live in America* per chance?
    *the land of hype & overstatement

    Yes I am from England*
    *land of the bitter

    James

  • jocuri said:

    Some of these buildings are just the stupidest things i have ever seen in my life.

  • VickyB said:

    Magnificent strange looking structures, some are plain silly though – would love to meet the creative minds behind them.

    My favs #3 & #7

  • Kees Alders said:

    I especially love the plain silly ones.

  • RTSM said:

    I’d like a reference for Wonderworks being Tennessee’s top attraction. You know Graceland is in Tennessee, right? And The Grand Old Opry, Beale Street, The Great Smoky Mountains, The Jack Daniels distillery, etc, etc…

  • Richard said:

    Great work both in the making of the places and the people who took the pictures

  • Lee A. Eide said:

    I loved the Basket Building, unlike some other folks.

    Sure it’s pretty tame compared to the ones but it reflects the essence of the company housed inside its basket-like walls and it’s definitely out of the ordinary.

  • Sightings said:

    Most of them seem very gimmicky to me, but I do like the one from Tokyo and the one from Switzerland. Clever.

  • Bery said:

    Frank Gehry really needs to move on from the wavy shining buildings…

  • bsearcher said:

    Some of these really play with your mind!

    I personally like the ‘crooked house’.

  • Matt Shaw said:

    I would love to go and visit the Blur Building, it just looks so immense. We have nothing that is even half as quirky in the U.K.

  • skynet said:

    All of them are wonderful but i like hotel marques its just …. wow

  • Andy Brown said:

    I love all these buildings , this to me is conversation architecture, you may not like the design but by god you will have a conversation about it and it will induce a reaction.

  • Kyran said:

    @James:
    Jeez, James, learn to let people have their own opinions. Just because one person finds these buildings artistic and you don’t doesn’t mean you have to force your opinions onto them.

  • Kyran said:

    I wonder what the second building is like on the inside…

  • Will said:

    They are a lot more fun than Mies van der Rohe or Frank Lloyd Wright,
    but they were of their time I suppose.
    I’d really like to meet the clients, bet they’re a laugh!

  • peter said:

    i note that the british seem to have nothing in this category is that because the brits take themselves too seriously! of course we could nominate the wobbly bridge but was that an architectural or engineering error!

  • Mike Coggins said:

    I love these. Just goes to show that buildings can be fun.
    Noticed absence of any in the U.K, anyone think of any…? The Bull Ring in Birmingham maybe?

  • Valerie said:

    Thanks for posting this. Some amazing buildings I definitely want to visit.

    I did want to add a small correction though – Frank Gehry is a Canadian not an American.

  • BasketCase said:

    If you awoke in a hotel overlooking the Polish one you’d think that you’d overdone it on the vodka the previous night.

  • Brian H said:

    Just goes to show that given a more relaxed and less proscriptive planning regime art in architecture flourishes.

    Not every country subscribes to the UK straight jacket love them all for imagination, inspiration and just plain audacity

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