Architecture

Breaking the mold: Top 10 architectural oddities

Breaking the mold: Top 10 arch...
Outstanding architectural oddities from around the world
Outstanding architectural oddities from around the world
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Based in Guangzhou, China, the Guangzhou Circle Mansion looks like something you'd expect to find in Homer Simpson's lunchbox (Photo: Joseph di Pasquale architect)
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Based in Guangzhou, China, the Guangzhou Circle Mansion looks like something you'd expect to find in Homer Simpson's lunchbox (Photo: Joseph di Pasquale architect)
The Guangzhou Circle Mansion was designed by Italian architecture firm A.M. Progetti (Photo: Joseph di Pasquale architect)
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The Guangzhou Circle Mansion was designed by Italian architecture firm A.M. Progetti (Photo: Joseph di Pasquale architect)
The building is home to the Guangdong Plastic Exchange (Photo: Joseph di Pasquale architect)
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The building is home to the Guangdong Plastic Exchange (Photo: Joseph di Pasquale architect)
Guangzhou Circle Mansion rises to a height of 138 m (452 ft) high (Photo: Joseph di Pasquale architect)
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Guangzhou Circle Mansion rises to a height of 138 m (452 ft) high (Photo: Joseph di Pasquale architect)
Guangzhou Circle Mansion casts a reflection in a nearby river that makes it look like the number 8(Photo: Joseph di Pasquale architect)
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Guangzhou Circle Mansion casts a reflection in a nearby river that makes it look like the number 8(Photo: Joseph di Pasquale architect)
Bureau A's Antoine is a shelter that could be mistaken for a boulder (Photo: Dylan Perrenoud)
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Bureau A's Antoine is a shelter that could be mistaken for a boulder (Photo: Dylan Perrenoud)
The interior of Antoine includes some fold-down furniture and a wood burner (Photo: Dylan Perrenoud)
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The interior of Antoine includes some fold-down furniture and a wood burner (Photo: Dylan Perrenoud)
Located in the Swiss Alps, Antoine is inspired by Swiss writer Charles-Ferdinand Ramuz and built to host visiting artists (Photo: Dylan Perrenoud)
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Located in the Swiss Alps, Antoine is inspired by Swiss writer Charles-Ferdinand Ramuz and built to host visiting artists (Photo: Dylan Perrenoud)
Antoine is constructed from wood and sports a concrete shell (Photo: Dylan Perrenoud)
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Antoine is constructed from wood and sports a concrete shell (Photo: Dylan Perrenoud)
Antoine was transported to its location via truck (Photo: Dylan Perrenoud)
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Antoine was transported to its location via truck (Photo: Dylan Perrenoud)
The S House is an odd house, even by Tokyo's often wacky architectural standards (Photo: Koichi Torimura)
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The S House is an odd house, even by Tokyo's often wacky architectural standards (Photo: Koichi Torimura)
S House takes up a footprint of 50 sq m (538 sq ft) (Photo: Koichi Torimura)
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S House takes up a footprint of 50 sq m (538 sq ft) (Photo: Koichi Torimura)
"I'm trying to present [S-House] as a prototype of architectural space suitable for the age of the network and information," explains architect Yuusuke Karasawa (via Google Translate) (Photo: Koichi Torimura)
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"I'm trying to present [S-House] as a prototype of architectural space suitable for the age of the network and information," explains architect Yuusuke Karasawa (via Google Translate) (Photo: Koichi Torimura)
Navigating S House would prove tricky (Photo: Koichi Torimura)
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Navigating S House would prove tricky (Photo: Koichi Torimura)
S House sports a transparent glass facade (Photo: Koichi Torimura)
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S House sports a transparent glass facade (Photo: Koichi Torimura)
You could probably make a good argument for including all Alex Chinneck's projects in this roundup of odd architecture (Photo: Jeff Moore)
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You could probably make a good argument for including all Alex Chinneck's projects in this roundup of odd architecture (Photo: Jeff Moore)
Take my lightning but don’t steal my thunder was installed in London's Covent Garden (Photo: Jeff Moore)
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Take my lightning but don’t steal my thunder was installed in London's Covent Garden (Photo: Jeff Moore)
Take my lightning but don’t steal my thunder appears to levitate (Photo: Jeff Moore)
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Take my lightning but don’t steal my thunder appears to levitate (Photo: Jeff Moore)
Take my lightning but don’t steal my thunder was prefabricated before being assembled on-site (Photo: Jeff Moore)
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Take my lightning but don’t steal my thunder was prefabricated before being assembled on-site (Photo: Jeff Moore)
Take my lightning but don’t steal my thunder is built mostly from CNC'd polystyrene (Photo: Jeff Moore)
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Take my lightning but don’t steal my thunder is built mostly from CNC'd polystyrene (Photo: Jeff Moore)
The JF-Kit House by Spanish collective Elii Architecture (Photo: Miguel de Guzmán)
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The JF-Kit House by Spanish collective Elii Architecture (Photo: Miguel de Guzmán)
Elii Architecture envisions a hand-cranked email station, energy-producing dance floor, a hand-cranked kitchen (Photo: Miguel de Guzmán)
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Elii Architecture envisions a hand-cranked email station, energy-producing dance floor, a hand-cranked kitchen (Photo: Miguel de Guzmán)
JF-Kit House is inspired by, but not affiliated with, Jane Fonda (Photo: Miguel de Guzmán)
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JF-Kit House is inspired by, but not affiliated with, Jane Fonda (Photo: Miguel de Guzmán)
JF-Kit House is definitely an example of architects letting their imaginations run wild (Photo: Miguel de Guzmán)
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JF-Kit House is definitely an example of architects letting their imaginations run wild (Photo: Miguel de Guzmán)
The parasitic architecture project was installed in Madrid (Photo: Miguel de Guzmán)
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The parasitic architecture project was installed in Madrid (Photo: Miguel de Guzmán)
Money can't buy you happiness, but it can buy you a huge penthouse apartment in Lower Manhattan called SkyHouse (Photo: David Hoston)
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Money can't buy you happiness, but it can buy you a huge penthouse apartment in Lower Manhattan called SkyHouse (Photo: David Hoston)
SkyHouse has one big plus compared to other luxury homes: a slide (Photo: David Hoston)
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SkyHouse has one big plus compared to other luxury homes: a slide (Photo: David Hoston)
SkyHouse's slide goes throughout the house (Photo: David Hoston)
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SkyHouse's slide goes throughout the house (Photo: David Hoston)
SkyHouse takes up four floors of one of NYC's oldest skyscrapers (Photo: David Hoston)
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SkyHouse takes up four floors of one of NYC's oldest skyscrapers (Photo: David Hoston)
SkyHouse was renovated by architect David Hotson (Photo: David Hoston)
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SkyHouse was renovated by architect David Hotson (Photo: David Hoston)
The interior of StarWars House, by Moon Hoon (Photo: Namgoong Sun)
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The interior of StarWars House, by Moon Hoon (Photo: Namgoong Sun)
The StarWars House is based in South Korea (Photo: Namgoong Sun)
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The StarWars House is based in South Korea (Photo: Namgoong Sun)
The StarWars House (Photo: Namgoong Sun)
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The StarWars House (Photo: Namgoong Sun)
The force is strong in South Korea (Photo: Namgoong Sun)
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The force is strong in South Korea (Photo: Namgoong Sun)
The StarWars House (Photo: Namgoong Sun)
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The StarWars House (Photo: Namgoong Sun)
In Multi, ThyssenKrupp reckons its invented the world's first cable-free elevator (Image: ThyssenKrupp Elevator AG)
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In Multi, ThyssenKrupp reckons its invented the world's first cable-free elevator (Image: ThyssenKrupp Elevator AG)
Back in 2012, students hacked the 90 m (295 ft) Building 54, on MIT'S Cambridge campus into a giant game of Tetris (Photo: Erik Nygren)
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Back in 2012, students hacked the 90 m (295 ft) Building 54, on MIT'S Cambridge campus into a giant game of Tetris (Photo: Erik Nygren)
It looks like multiple LED lighting modules were used, with gameplay wirelessly controlled at ground level (Photo: Erik Nygren)
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It looks like multiple LED lighting modules were used, with gameplay wirelessly controlled at ground level (Photo: Erik Nygren)
Certainly beats playing Tetris on a GameBoy (Photo: Erik Nygren)
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Certainly beats playing Tetris on a GameBoy (Photo: Erik Nygren)
A full-floor Survival Condo suite costs back US$3 million, while a half-floor suite fetches $1.5 million
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A full-floor Survival Condo suite costs back US$3 million, while a half-floor suite fetches $1.5 million
Survival Condos are based on discontinued US missile silos
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Survival Condos are based on discontinued US missile silos
The Survival Condos feature a climbing wall
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The Survival Condos feature a climbing wall
Survival Condos also have a monitoring room
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Survival Condos also have a monitoring room
A Survival Condo, viewed from outside
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A Survival Condo, viewed from outside
Outstanding architectural oddities from around the world
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Outstanding architectural oddities from around the world
View gallery - 45 images

For architects, thinking outside the box often goes hand-in-hand with the job description, but sometimes the box doesn't even come into the equation. These occasions can result in some very memorable, innovative and thought-provoking projects, and with this in mind and the end of the year in sight, Gizmag celebrates ten notable architectural oddities.

Guangzhou Circle Mansion

Guangzhou Circle Mansion casts a reflection in a nearby river that makes it look like the number 8(Photo: Joseph di Pasquale architect)
Guangzhou Circle Mansion casts a reflection in a nearby river that makes it look like the number 8(Photo: Joseph di Pasquale architect)

Although the Guangzhou Circle Mansion bears more than a passing resemblance to something you'd expect to find in Homer Simpson's lunchbox, it is definitely a completed building.

Based in an industrial district of Guangzhou, China, the Circle Mansion was designed by Italian architecture firm A.M. Progetti. It serves as home to the Guangdong Plastic Exchange, and also hosts a number of office units and a hotel. The Guangzhou Circle Mansion rises to a height of 138 m (452 ft) high, and casts a reflection in a nearby river that makes it look like the number 8 – a very lucky number in Chinese culture.

S-House

S House sports a transparent glass facade (Photo: Koichi Torimura)
S House sports a transparent glass facade (Photo: Koichi Torimura)

Tokyo regularly punches above its weight in the weird architecture stakes, but the S House remains an oddity even by that city's standards. Taking up a footprint of 50 sq m (538 sq ft), the house features a completely transparent glass facade – and presumably a very high window cleaner's bill. Impractical? Very, though at least the bathroom and master bedroom are sunk beneath street level and so is less open to passers-by than the photos may suggest.

"I'm trying to present [S-House] as a prototype of architectural space suitable for the age of the network and information," explains architect Yuusuke Karasawa (via Google Translate).

Take my lightning but don’t steal my thunder

Take my lightning but don’t steal my thunder is built mostly from CNC'd polystyrene (Photo: Jeff Moore)
Take my lightning but don’t steal my thunder is built mostly from CNC'd polystyrene (Photo: Jeff Moore)

You could make a decent argument for including all of Alex Chinneck's projects in this roundup of odd architecture, but we'll limit ourselves to just one. The British architectural artist recently left visitors to London's Covent Garden scratching their heads with an amazing building that appears to float in mid-air.

Titled Take my lightning but don’t steal my thunder, the prefabricated building is primarily made from CNC'd polystyrene, and appears to levitate 10 feet in the air, completely unsupported. A 14 tonne (15.68 US tons) steel framework and a 4 tonne counterweight were used in the project, and Chinneck also had help from a large team of specialists to make his vision become reality. Alas, the installation was only temporary and as of writing is no more. JF-Kit House

JF-Kit House is definitely an example of architects letting their imaginations run wild (Photo: Miguel de Guzmán)
JF-Kit House is definitely an example of architects letting their imaginations run wild (Photo: Miguel de Guzmán)

The JF-Kit House by Spanish collective Elii Architecture draws its inspiration from fitness icon Jane Fonda. The project imagines a future of parasitic architecture that operates off-grid – not with solar power or other renewable energy, mind you, but with a good old-fashioned workout.

Elii Architecture envisions such off-the-wall ideas as a hand-cranked email station, an energy-producing dance floor, a hand-cranked kitchen, and a greenhouse that's somehow watered by performing squats. Clearly, it isn't going to be a practical method of living any time soon, though is a definite example of what can happen when architects let their imaginations run wild.

SkyHouse

SkyHouse was renovated by architect David Hotson (Photo: David Hoston)
SkyHouse was renovated by architect David Hotson (Photo: David Hoston)

Money can't buy you happiness, but it can buy you a huge penthouse apartment in Lower Manhattan that features a massive 24 m (80 ft) slide, a climbing wall, glass floors, and a private elevator – which is perhaps the same thing after all ...

Renovated by architect David Hotson, the SkyHouse takes up the top four floors of one of New York City's oldest skyscrapers and features choice views of some of the city's best landmarks, including St.Paul’s Chapel, the Brooklyn Bridge, and the Empire State Building.

Starwars House

The StarWars House (Photo: Namgoong Sun)
The StarWars House (Photo: Namgoong Sun)

That wise sage Yoda once said "Do or do not. There is no try." Clearly this spirit of committing to the task in hand was taken on board by South Korean architecture firm Moon Hoon when it embarked upon building this Star Wars themed home. Starting with its droid-like exterior, the aptly-named Starwars House pays homage to several aspects of Star Wars design.

The project was built for a family of four at a total cost of 200 million KRW (around US$192,000), and despite its outward appearance, is actually a practical family home, comprising a total floor space of 131 sq m (1,410 sq ft), split over three floors.

Multi

In Multi, ThyssenKrupp reckons its invented the world's first cable-free elevator (Image: ThyssenKrupp Elevator AG)
In Multi, ThyssenKrupp reckons its invented the world's first cable-free elevator (Image: ThyssenKrupp Elevator AG)

ThyssenKrupp's Multi, is billed as the world's first cable-free elevator and while that may sound a little odd, it could have massive implications for the future of tall buildings.

The elevator can move both horizontally and vertically, providing an obvious boost to versatility and providing a platform upon which architects can begin to seriously rethink the way that tall buildings are conceived. The elevator is powered using the same basic mechanism as Shanghai's super-fast Maglev Train, though thankfully will run much slower.

MIT's Tetris building hack

Certainly beats playing Tetris on a GameBoy (Photo: Erik Nygren)
Certainly beats playing Tetris on a GameBoy (Photo: Erik Nygren)

Back in 2012, students hacked the 90 m (295 ft) Building 54, Home to the Institute's Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Science (EAPS), the building's grid-like windows proved a good fit for bringing the classic multi-platform game onto a grander scale.

Antoine

Located in the Swiss Alps, Antoine is inspired by Swiss writer Charles-Ferdinand Ramuz and built to host visiting artists (Photo: Dylan Perrenoud)
Located in the Swiss Alps, Antoine is inspired by Swiss writer Charles-Ferdinand Ramuz and built to host visiting artists (Photo: Dylan Perrenoud)

We've reported on a smorgasbord of tiny homes and shelters in recent years, but Bureau A's Antoine is definitely the first such structure that could be mistaken for a boulder.

Located in the Swiss Alps, Antoine is inspired by a novel written by Swiss writer Charles-Ferdinand Ramuz, and was built to host visiting artists. The shelter is constructed from wood and encased in a concrete shell, while inside it sports a wood burner, and fold-down furniture – though unfortunately no toilet.

Survival Condos

A Survival Condo, viewed from outside
A Survival Condo, viewed from outside

Some people believe that a nuclear strike/asteroid impact/zombie apocalypse-type disaster is inevitably going to wipe out a large chunk of the population, and want to be prepared. The Luxury Survival Condos offer such people an opportunity to live out the end days in style.

Built in obsolete US Atlas missile silos, Survival Condos can, according to the developers, withstand winds of up to 500 mph (805 km/h). Each full-size silo houses up to 70 people, and comes with a five year supply of freeze-dried and dehydrated food (per person), in addition to some big TV's, home automation systems, and jacuzzi baths. A full-floor condo suite costs US$3 million, while a half-floor suite fetches $1.5 million.

You can check out each of these architectural oddities in more detail in the gallery.

If we've missed any weird and/or wonderful feats of architecture that have caught you eye in recent times, shout out in the comments section below.

View gallery - 45 images
2 comments
Slowburn
There is something wrong with a survival cabin that is camouflaged.
Michael Ruwald
Amazing crafts. We can really see how our technology advances as time passes by. I'd like to credit the star wars house as highly unique. As we enter 2015, there will more excellent architecture to be made. We'll keep an eye on them.