Industry Market Trends

9 Bizarre Buildings

Jun 10, 2008

From very cool to totally weird, here is a collection of nine unusual houses and bizarre buildings from all around the world.

We've written about incredible global constructs, record-breaking skyscrapers, architecturally world-class Olympic and World Cup stadiums, as well as dancing and self-healing buildings. Building is serious business and a no-nonsense task.

But it can also be, well, rather offbeat. Here are just a few truly bizarre buildings throughout the world.

The Crooked House - Poland

Located in Sopot, Poland, the "crooked house" was constructed in 2003. The building's architecture is based on Jan Marcin Szancer (a famous Polish drawer and child books illustrator) and Per Dahlberg (Swedish painter living in Sopot) pictures and paintings.


Poland is also the location of the Upside Down House.

The Basket Building - United States

Located in Newark, Ohio, the basket building is the home office of the Longaberger Basket Company. Founder Dave Longaberger decided he wanted the corporate home office in a giant basket, and so he achieved his dream in December 1997. The following year, the Longaberger home office also received a Build Ohio Award for its synthetic plaster system; the building is made of stucco over a steel structure, which helps create the look of an actual Longaberger Basket.


The Shoe House - South Africa

One of many shoe-shaped houses in the world, the South African shoe house, in Mpumalanga Province, was built in 1990 by entrepreneur and artist Ron Van Zyl, a South African artist and hotelier who built the strange building at his wife's request. The interior is a museum of rock and wood carvings made by Van Zyl himself. The Shoe is part of a bigger project, which includes a camp site and a chalet guest house, restaurant, bar, pool and shop.


Elbe Philharmonic - Germany

A pier at the edge of the industrial harbor on the Elbe River in Hamburg, Germany, is the gritty site of Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron's Elbe Philharmonic. These Swiss architects proposed to place the translucent glass hall directly atop an abandoned 1960s-era brick warehouse at the end of the pier rather than demolish it. The warehouse will serve as a parking garage. Scheduled to open in 2010, and conceived as an extrusion of the brick base and crowned by a series of crystalline peaks, the hall resembles a ship drifting in the harbor, evoking the city's long commercial shipping history.


The Bubble House - France

Architect Antti Lovag, a pioneer in ferro-cement design, committed to the concept of organic architecture inspired by shapes and forms found in nature. Lovag has one very famous work in the French Rivierra, called Le Palais Bulles ("The Palace of Bubbles"), which he designed in conjunction with Pierre Cardin.

Lovag designed a few bubble houses on the same coast. The one in Tourette-sur-Loup, high on a hillside behind Nice, is only 38 years old, yet it is already listed as a historic monument by the French Ministry of Culture.


Hotel Puerta America - Spain

Completed in Madrid, Spain, in 2005, Hotel Puerta America is unlike your typical hotel. Conceived as an architectural showcase, this hotel commissioned a different architect to design each floor. Yes, each floor. Individual floors were outfitted by different world-renowned architects, including Foster and Partners, Zaha Hadid, David Chipperfield, John Pawson, Jean Nouvel and Ushida Findlay.

For the design of the fourth floor of the hotel, Plasma Studio created a series of crystallized spaces, with fractured and distorted rooms and hallways, using a "repetitive rhythm of partition walls, service ducts and entrance doors as a sectional framework from which a differentiation of the corridor skin was devised," according to the UK firm.


The Thin House - United Kingdom

Though there are quite a few thin houses that exist around the globe, this particular Thin House is located in London, UK.


Hundertwasser Building - Germany

The Waldspirale, or "Forest Spiral," is a residential building complex in Darmstadt, Germany. The U-shaped building's unique facade does not follow a regular grid organization, and the diagonal roof — planted with grass, shrubs, flowers and trees — rises like a ramp along the U-form. Of the 1,000 windows, no two are the same, and trees grow out from many of them. At its highest point, the building has 12 floors. The building, completed in 2000, was designed by Viennese artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser, built by the Bauverein Darmstadt company, and planned and implemented by the architect Heinz M. Springmann.


The Inside-Out House - United States

Finally, "Inversion" was a temporary art-installation project that looked kinda like the aftermath of a terrible drilling accident. In 2005, a few months before the house in Houston, Tex., was to be demolished, artists Dan Havel and Dean Ruck created a large funnel-like vortex beginning from the west wall adjacent to the street. The exterior skin of the house was peeled off and used to create the narrowing spiral as it progressed eastward through the small central hallway connecting this building and another, exiting through a small hole into an adjacent courtyard.

The result: the premises were turned inside out.