Unreal Buildings from Around the World
This dream-like design, by architects Szotynscy & Zaleski (pronounced how it’s spelled if you were wondering), was inspired by the children’s fairy tale illustrations of Jan Marcin Szancer and the work of artist Per Dahlberg. Completed in 2004, the three-story structure was built with the surrounding buildings in mind to look as though it belongs there but has somehow melted or sagged under pressure. The Crooked House houses several tourist attractions other than its façade including restaurants, bars, and retail stores. Located in the shopping district of downtown Sopot, the Crooked House is now the most photographed building in all of Poland.
Rotterdam & Helmond, The Netherlands
Architect Piet Bloom designed the cube houses to represent a village within a city, each house representing a tree and the houses together a forest. Each cube, tiled 45 degrees, rests on a hexagonal pylon, each cube connected to the next. Ahead of their time, the first versions were built in Helmond in 1974. By 1977 a total of 47 had been built in Rotterdam and Helmond. Unlike many other terribly tacky houses of the 70’s, the modern design has maintained its novelty and the Cubes remain a popular tourist attraction. One owner has opened a fully furnished “show cube,” offering tours of the two and a half story homes. And, good news for us travelers, in 2009 the larger cubes were converted into a hostel run by the Dutch hostel chain Stayokay. So you can experience the cubes for yourself!
The Basket Building
This Paul Bunyan-scale basket is home to the corporate headquarters of The Longaberger Company. You guessed it, a basket company. They offer handmade maple wood baskets and other home products like pottery, wrought iron, fabric accessories and other things that make middle-age parents go nuts. Founder Dave Longaberger had a vision for every company building to be in the shape of a basket, stating “if they can put a man on the moon, they can certainly build a building that’s shaped like a basket.” If you ask me, more companies should follow his lead. Who wouldn’t want to drive by the Tampax or Trojan headquarters on their way to work in the morning?
Nord LD Building
The recently completed headquarters for the German bank Nord/LB is a an environmentally friendly (and futuristic) concept from Behnisch, Behnisch & Partner’s. The compartmentalized glass building makes maximum use of natural daylight, ventilates the building with fresh air from the “microclimate” courtyard, uses geothermal heating, water cooling through the cement ceilings and floors, and virtually every other kind of cool “green” ways to keeping an office building running. According to the architects, the goal was to create a transition zone between the 19th century residential area to the south and the historical area to the north. It seems like they went a little overboard on the modern side to actually achieve this, but people are probably too busy staring at the building to notice that the scenery changed anyway. Or maybe that was the whole idea? Either way, the Nord LD building looks pretty darn cool.
Originally build for the 1958 Brussels World’s Fair, Andre Waterkeyn’s 335 foot monument/building hybrid continues to fascinate tourists over fifty years later. One of Brussels main attractions, the structure represents a single unit of an iron crystal magnified 165 billion times. Tubes enclose escalators and elevators to connect the nine steel spheres along the 12 edges and all eight vertices to the center. The 18 meter diameter spheres contain exhibit halls and other public spaces while the top sphere serves as a viewing deck, offering a panoramic view of Brussels. Like the Eiffel Tower, the monument was originally planned to be taken down after a few months. However, it became a symbol not only of the scientific era but also of modern architecture, of the city of Brussels, and of Belgium.
Completed in 2005, the 54-story Turning Torso is the tallest building in Scandinavia and the tallest residential building in the European Union. The design was based on architect Santiago Calatrava’s “Twisting Torso,” a white marble piece based on the form of a twisting human torso. As of 2009, the general public can visit the top of the building. However this is only allowed during select times in the summer with pre-booked tickets in order to limit public access to the private residence. A similar, taller skyscraper featuring the same 90 degree twist is currently under construction in Dubai, UAE.
Know of a cool building missing from the list? Leave us a comment and we’ll include it in the next article!