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World’s Strangest Buildings

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Travel and Leisure

If the Eiffel Tower were done up with giant dime-store Christmas ornaments—shiny, glowing spheres—it might rival the Oriental Pearl Television Tower for eccentricity. Eleven habitable disco balls bulge out of Shanghai’s 1,535-foot-tall needle, which also includes a “space hotel” and a (perhaps inevitable) revolving restaurant. When it comes to weird buildings, this landmark is in a class by itself.

Between all the bubbly novelties that went up in pre-Olympics Beijing, and Dubai’s feverish invention over the past decade, nothing should surprise us. Except that some buildings still do. And these eccentric edifices, breathtaking in their strangeness, are worth a detour—if only to ginger up your worldview a bit.

Still, how can any building be considered strange anymore? Sure, we’ve had time to digest the CCTV headquarters in Beijing, the one that looks like a huge Möbius strip, and we’ve acclimated to the implausible height of the Burj Khalifa in Dubai. And yeah, we’ve shrugged off our share of goofball novelties, like the Pyramid Arena of Memphis or the Eiffel Tower of Las Vegas.

Sometimes strangeness is a function of amazing architecture where we least expect it, like the Selfridges Department Store in dowdy, downtown Birmingham, England, that effectively out-Bilbaoed Bilbao. “The mother of all magic mushrooms” is how Jonathan Glancey, architecture critic of the Guardian described it, perfectly capturing its hallucinatory character.

More often, the truly strange buildings are the outgrowth of an obsession: the stranger the obsession, the stranger the building. Take Korean politician Sim Jae-Duck, for example. He has spent his life campaigning for clean and beautiful toilets in his home country and around the world. A few years ago, he tore down his own home in the town of Suwon and replaced it with a new house shaped like a giant toilet. The house, a showplace of toilet wonder, is named Haewoojae, which means “a place where one can solve one’s worries,” Korean for sans souci.

And then there are the projects by architectural visionaries, like the Austrian free spirit Friedensreich Hundertwasser, who attract clients and major commissions despite the fact—or perhaps because—their approaches to design are completely outside anyone’s frame of reference. You stare at their buildings and marvel that they ever got built.

Whatever the variety of strangeness, we’re truly grateful for these buildings. We think that it’s an honor to make this list and that it’s an extraordinary building that can shake jaded observers like ourselves out of our complacency.

Ontario College of Art and Design, Sharp Center by Will Alsop

Ontario College of Art and Design Ontario, Canada

The Bar Code Building, St. Petersburg

The Bar Code Building St. Petersburg, Russia

Selfridges, Birmingham by Future Systems

Selfridges Department Store Birmingham, England

Zvi Hecker's Ramot Housing, Jerusalem

Ramot Polin Apartments Jerusalem, Israel

Faro a Colon (Columbus Lighthouse) Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

Columbus Lighthouse Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

Bioscleave House, East Hampton, New York

Bioscleave House East Hampton, New York

Oriental Pearl TV Tower, Shanghai

Oriental Pearl TV Tower Shanghai, China

Mullverbrennungsanlage Spittelau, Vienna

Spittelau District Heating Plant Vienna, Austria

Herzog & DeMeuron's Elbe Philharmonic, Hamburg, Germany

Elbe Philharmonic Hamburg, Germany

The Atomium, Brussels, Belgium

The Atomium Brussels, Belgium

Kansas City Public Library (Missouri, USA)

Kansas City Public Library Kansas City, Missouri

Container City (London, UK)

Container City II London, England

Erwin Wurm: House Attack (Viena, Austria)

House Attack Vienna

Fuji television building (Tokyo, Japan)

Fuji Television Building Tokyo, Japan

Edificio Mirador (Madrid, Spain)

Edificio Mirador Madrid, Spain

Museum of Contemporary Art (Niteroi, Brazil)

Museum of Contemporary Art Rio De Janeiro, Brazil

Druzhba Holiday Center (Yalta, Ukraine)

Druzhba Holiday Center Yalta, Ukraine

Solar Furnace (Odeillo, France)

Solar Furnace Font-Romeu-Odeillo-Via, France

Cubic Houses (Rotterdam, Netherlands)

Cube House Rotterdam, Netherlands

Lloyd's building (London, UK)

Lloyds Building London, England

Kunsthaus (Graz, Austria)

Kunsthaus Graz, Austria

Office center  1000 3 a.k.a. Banknote (Kaunas, Lithuania)

Office Center 1000 3 (a.k.a. Banknote) Kaunas, Lithuania

Blur Building (Yverdon-les-Bains, Switzerland)

Blur Building Yverdon-les-Bains, Switzerland

Agbar Tower (Barcelona, Spain)

Agbar Tower Barcelona, Spain

Cybertecture Egg (Mumbai, India)

Cybertecture Egg Mumbai, India

The Church of Hallgrimur, Reykjavik, Iceland

The Church of Hallgrimur Reykjavik, Iceland

Nakagin Capsule Tower (Tokyo, Japan)

Nakagin Capsule Tower Tokyo, Japan

Montreal Biosphere (Canada)

Montreal Biosphere Montreal, Canada

Wonderworks (Pigeon Forge, TN, USA)

Wonderworks Pigeon Forge, Tennessee and Orlando, Florida

Toilet Shaped House, Korea

Haewoojae Suwon, South Korea

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Written by appraisalmanagementnews

July 11, 2011 at 3:33 pm

Posted in Cool Pictures

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