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The Most Surreal Buildings Around the World

Habitat 67

Montreal, Canada

Meant to be a modern utopia that merged drab apartment living with rooftop gardens and close-knit community, this creation for the 1967 World’s Fair Exposition was way ahead of its time. After traveling to public housing projects in city after city, architect Moshe Safdie concluded that people want to live in houses, not apartments. So, much like the pueblo homes in Taos, New Mexico, Safdie built houses on top of each other—each with their own greenspace—in a way that forms an incredibly sturdy continuous suspension system.

Image via: Wladyslaw, CC.

Inntel Hotel

Amsterdam, Netherlands

No, that pot brownie isn’t playing tricks on you—those really are little houses stacked on top of each other. The building’s façade is made up of Zaandam’s five distinct housing designs, from laborers cottages to row homes, all of which are painted in a traditional shade of Zaandam green. The one exception is the blue corner piece, which stems from Claude Monet’s 1871 impressionist painting “The Blue House at Zaandam” that he painted while visiting Amsterdam.

Image via: inntelhotelsamsterdamzaandam.nl.

Seattle Central Library

Seattle, Washington

The Seattle Central Library’s striking geometric glass and steel frame complement the city’s skyline with its futuristic charm. And with natural light pouring through its glass walls, the interior is just as stunning. Architect Rem Koolhaas designed a library that plays the role of information curator in a world where information is increasingly accessible. It’s most popular attraction is the book spiral in which the entire nonfiction section runs unbroken upward for four stories. No wonder it makes our list of the Most Amazing Libraries in the World.

Image via: DVD R W, CC

Hotel Spirit

Bratislava, Slovakia

This Slovak hotel looks as though Pablo Picasso himself might have imagined it in a dream. It's outrageous color-splashed exterior is sure to be easy to find from the Bratislava city center. Each room is uniquely designed and decorated with modern art. Even if you don’t stay the night, the hotel staff will welcome you warmly into the cafe and gallery.

Image via: hotelspirit.sk.

Selfridges Building

Birmingham, England

It's hard to describe exactly what the architects of the Sefridges Building in Birmingham were hoping to accomplish with their design, other than standing out from existing building. The curvilinear structure is covered in 15,000 aluminum discs on its exterior, giving it the appearance of a pin cushion filled to capacity. It's definitely...creative.

Image via: Bs0u10e01, CC.

Ontario College of Art and Design

Toronto, Canada

What better place to learn creativity than in an exceptionally creative building? This college holds classes in a boxlike building suspended four stories above the ground. It’s colorful, fun, and strong in a not-intimidating way. We’d love to have gone to school in that beautiful!

Image via: Facebook.

Casa Batlló

Barcelona, Spain

A trip to Barcelona is sure to guarantee fantastical sights of Antoni Gaudí’s Casa Batlló. The Batlló family originally purchased the home in 1900 because of its prime location on Passeig de Gràcia and contracted Gaudí to make it beautiful. Without boundaries, Gaudí’s creative expression exploded with teal mosaic tiles and bubbling balconies, reminiscent of the nearby Mediterranean Sea, and crowned with a scaled dragon’s back rooftop. The building is now open for tours and special events.

Image via: Mstyslav Chernov, CC, and Amadalvarez, CC.

Waldspirale

Darmstadt, Germany

In English, “Waldspirale” means “Forest Spiral.” This apartment building has greenery on the roof and an intriguing exterior. Even the windows are unique; no two are the same. If you’re looking for a unique place to rent, this is the spot for you!

Image via: Facebook.

The Pompidou Centre

Paris, France

Standing outside of the Pompidou Center, you can't help but think it looks like a giant hamster cage for humans. But what better building to house an extensive collection of modern art? Because its staircases, elevators, and technical equipment are compartmentalized—and color-coded by purpose—on the exterior of the structure, the interior is spacious and easily altered to best suit its rotating exhibitions.

Image via: Reinraum, CC, and Leland, CC

33 Thomas Street

New York City

Towering 550 feet over Manhattan with no windows, the Long Lines Building on Thomas Street is an Armageddon oasis and regarded as one of the most secure buildings in America since its completion in 1974. When AT&T contracted architect John Carl Warnecke to construct something that protects their solid-state phone switchers, they couldn’t have hoped for more. Each square-foot can support 300 pounds and its flame-retardant exterior can withstand up to two weeks of nuclear radiation. It's only threat is the NSA.

Image via: Dhaluza, CC.

Dancing House

Prague, Czech Republic

Inspired by the light-footed film couple Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, the Dancing House has graced the Vltava Quayside in  all its deconstructivist glory since 1996. Ginger, the curved glass tower, clings seamlessly to Fred’s classy precast concrete clad exterior. The design stands in defiant juxtaposition to Prague’s traditional baroque style and incorporates a little something for everyone: street-access coffee shops, insurance offices, and a French restaurant with panoramic views of the city.

Image via: Dino Quinzani, CC.

CCTV Building

Beijing, China

Nothing says, “We’re always watching,” like a giant dark building arching across the horizon. The China Central Television (CCTV) Headquarters in Beijing, China, stands 54 stories tall (not including its four-tier basement) for the purpose of producing of all things TV. It’s innovative exoskeleton of diamond grids helps distribute the weight so its radical overhang could stay standing if an earthquake were to strike.

Image via: Cmglee, CC.

Lotus Temple

Delhi, India

The Bahá’í Faith, a religion that elevates all religions, has some unique temples around the world. The Lotus Delhi temple is one of the most beautiful. It’s inspired by the lotus flower, as the name implies, so the architects had a surefire way to make sure this temple was beautiful. 

Image via: Facebook.

Guggenheim Museum

Bilbao, Spain

Leave it to an art museum to create a unique building. The curves of the exterior catch the eye, but they were designed to catch the sunlight in a million unique ways. Inside, the building is centered around a beautiful atrium. 

Image via: Wikipedia.

Aragon Pavilion

Zaragoza, Spain

In 2008, the city of Zaragoza, Spain built the Aragon Pavilion to host an international expo. The building was designed to resemble both a basket and the rolling hills of the surrounding area. It’s a gorgeous building, but it hasn’t been used for much in the decade since its construction.

Image via: Facebook.

Zaragoza, Spain

In 2008, the city of Zaragoza, Spain built the Aragon Pavilion to host an international expo. The building was designed to resemble both a basket and the rolling hills of the surrounding area. It’s a gorgeous building, but it hasn’t been used for much in the decade since its construction.

Image via: Facebook.

Fuji Television Building

Tokyo, Japan

This 25-story building finished construction in 1997. It’s the headquarters for the Fuji Television Network and hosts state-of-the-art broadcasting equipment. The giant sphere is an impressive observation tower. We love it, but it does remind us of a giant LEGO set.

Image via: Facebook.

Crooked House

Sopot, Poland

Not to be confused with the Dancing House, this building is reminiscent of its fairytale inspirations. The Crooked House in Sopot, Poland looks like it fell from Alice’s Wonderland and into our world. It was built in 2004 and features a shopping center. We wouldn’t be surprised if there isn’t a rabbit hole somewhere in this optical illusion building.

Image via: Facebook.

Ryugyong Hotel

Pyongyang, North Korea

The Ryugyong Hotel is known as the tallest unfinished building in the world. The exterior is done, but funding has hard to come by since the Soviet Union fell in the early 90s. It’s okay. We weren’t planning on visiting anytime soon.

Image via: Facebook.

Kunsthaus

Graz, Austria

This Austrian museum may look a little odd during the day, but when the lights turn on at night, it’s breathtaking. It feels like a giant sci-fi submarine. Its design belongs in a crazy category of architecture called “blob architecture.”

Image via: Facebook.

Ordos Museum

Another museum makes the list of Surreal Buildings. The Ordos Museum in China was designed with the nearby Gobi Desert as a major influencer. The museum itself sits in the middle of the ghost town Kangbashi, a city of 30,000 that was built to house 300,000.

Image via: Facebook.

Mind House

Barcelona, Spain

If you think the Mind House looks like a Christmas-time Gingerbread house, well, you’d be correct. It was supposed to. It was designed by a renown architect in an area called Park Güell. The park is also full of other notable sights, such as inverted archways and a mosaic dragon.

Image via: Pinterest.

Dynamic Tower

Dubai, United Arab Emirates

This eco-friendly building will be the first of its kind. Each of its 80 floors will rotate independently of the other floors, completing a full rotation every three hours. The architect wanted to see if he could add time as the fourth dimension to this building’s beauty. Its construction is behind schedule, so in some ways, he’s succeeded.

Image via: Facebook.

Cubic Houses

Rotterdam, Netherlands

In the 1980s, a Dutch architect designed these treelike houses to optimize the space. We love the look, but we’re not sure how they’re space-efficient. 25% of the floorplan is unusable thanks to the unique angle. If you don’t mind that, though, these houses are a great place to live!

Image via: Facebook.

The Church of Hallgrimur

Reykjavik, Iceland

We may not be able to pronounce it, but this is definitely one of our favorite buildings! Like many architectural feats, it was heavily influenced by the surrounding landscape. It feels like something straight out of Lord of the Rings, and we’re okay with that.

Image via: Facebook.

Bubble House

Cannes, France

This mansion, built overlooking the Mediterranean Sea in the 70s and 80s, was meant to mimic humanity’s earliest dwelling places. Apparently, the price tag didn’t get the memo. When it first went on the market a few years back, it was listed at $456 million.

Image via: Facebook.

Antilla

South Mumbai, India

Antilla is a building built to withstand some of the strongest earthquakes in the world. It cost over $1 billion to build. It’s staffed by over 600 people. The kicker is that it’s a private home for India’s richest man: Mukesh Amani. Most of us can’t even comprehend the kind of money it takes to live that kind of life.

Image via: Wikipedia.

South Mumbai, India

Antilla is a building built to withstand some of the strongest earthquakes in the world. It cost over $1 billion to build. It’s staffed by over 600 people. The kicker is that it’s a private home India’s richest man: Mukesh Amani. Most of us can’t even comprehend the kind of money it takes to live that kind of life.

Image via: Wikipedia.

Heydar Aliyev Cultural Center

Baku, Azerbaijan

This Eurasian country is home to one of the most beautiful buildings on this list. Its building is meant to flow right out of the ground. The Heydar Aliyev Cultural Center was designed to represent Azerbaijan’s soft and romantic side while highlighting their optimism for the future. We think it does an excellent job of this.

Image via: Facebook.

Upside Down House

Szymbark, Poland

If you think music and twitter are the only two places to make a political statement, think again. This house calls back on 1970s Communist Poland with its 70s decor and communist propaganda inside. In a sense, Communist Poland was as disorienting as this house.

Image via: Facebook.

Petronas Towers

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

If you’re ever in Malaysia, visit the Petronas Towers. The identical towers feature a skybridge 41 stories in the air and an 86th-floor observation deck. If you can, go near the sunset. You won’t regret it!

Image via: Facebook.

Château Frontenac

Quebec City, Quebec 

The Château Frontenac is stunning. It’s a massive building so big it looks like both a castle and the surrounding town. The crazy part? It’s a hotel. For about $400. You can stay in this 611-room hotel on the St. Lawrence River. It’s a castle almost as magical as Hogwarts.  

Image via: Wikipedia.  

Quebec City, Quebec 

The Château Frontenac is stunning. It’s a massive building so big it looks like both a castle and the surrounding town. The crazy part? It’s a hotel. For about $400. You can stay in this 611-room hotel on the St. Lawrence River. It’s a castle almost as magical as Hogwarts.  

Image via: Wikipedia.