Unusual Looking Buildings
· The Dancing House – is an architectural oddity and noted icon of The Czech Republic. Designed by architect Frank Gehry in 1994, it depicts a man and woman dancing, looking at it from the right angle. The history of the site dates back to the late 19th century, when a house was located in what is now downtown Prague. It was destroyed in the 1945 bombings. The tower with the globe on top was the childhood home of former President Vaclav Havel, and it was he who initiated the building of an additional structure adjoining his own. Finished in 1996, it is not open to the public, but serves as an office complex with seventh floor restaurant and a view of the castle across the river.
· Ripley’s Building – the site of the famous earthquake in Madrid, Missouri (1812), and fashioned as only Ripley can, this is one of the most photographed structures worldwide. Measuring 8 on the Richter scale, this was the strongest earthquake to hit the United States up to that time. It caused church bells to ring in Philadelphia, some 950 miles away. The Mississippi River reversed its course for three days after.
· Low Impact Woodland Home – no log cabin for this family. Simon Dale, Wales, UK, decided to create a cozy treehouse home, dug into the side of a hill. He then used the diggings to form a foundation and retaining wall. The frame woodwork was from thinning out surrounding clusters of oak trees. Bales of straw were inserted under floors, in walls, and above roof for insulation. Plastic sheeting was laid under the turf roof. The walls are finished in lime plaster, chosen for its low impact manufacturing process. He used scrap wood for flooring, windows and door trim, and scoured trash piles for electrical wiring, plumbing, and windows. His use of the natural environment is staggering for a non-professional.
· The Crooked House – an architectural anomaly created by Szotynscy Zaleski, a Polish architect. Based on classic fairytale literature, illustrated by Jan Marcin Szancer. He also used the drawings of Per Dahlberg, a local resident and artist. Completed in 2004 and located in Sopot, Poland, it is situated in the Rezydent Shopping Center. Viewing the photographs is one thing, but actually standing at the site causes optical illusions from most angles.
· Atomium – this wonder of architecture was designed by André Waterkeyn for the 1958 World’s Fair. Though he was asked to design an upside-down Eiffel Tower, due to the age of nuclear energy and the world’s race to harness it, he felt an atom was more appropriate. This particular structure is based on an iron crystal’s arrangement of atoms. Originally planned to be torn down six months after the fair, it became a symbol of much more and an icon of Brussels. As the surrounding shrubbery and gardens blossomed over time, it took on an even more aesthetic appeal, and in 2003, it was refurbished and made even more unique. Workers who participated in its face-lift and restructuring had to use mountain climbing gear to gain access to the orbs and repel the side of the building to finish exterior work.
· Nautilus House – is a most unusual architectural design based both inside and out on the habitat of a mollusk, moving about from one cell to another within its home. A walk through the winding, open hallways and viewing other rooms through oval-shaped door openings gives a sense of openness throughout, while even fixtures like showerheads and oven range hoods are molded out of the interior, seeming to be birthed from the elements. Spiral staircases lead upwards, and toward the back of the house, lays the private bath areas, bedrooms, and an office from which parents can view the gorgeous landscape and watch the kids play within it. Every detail of interior design is in sync with the theme and the exterior is surrounded with organic foliage and flowers.
· Kansas City Public Library – was part of a downtown revitalization project. At the heart of the city, the library asked the citizens to choose books they felt had influenced and represented Kansas City. The project utilized the chosen books, completely bound, as the decorative exterior of the parking garage attached to the building. The result was for the entire building to replicate a library shelf of oversized books.
· Wall House – this unusual building appears to be three different style homes stacked on top of each other, backed by a higher wall. The wall was supposed to symbolize the conversion of the past into the future by way of the present time. It currently resides in The Netherlands, though it was originally a concept ordered by a resident of Ohio, Ed Bye.
· WonderWorks Museum – this fantastic, eye-catching tourist attraction is in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, and the heart of the Smoky Mountains. At first glance, it appears the eyes are playing tricks, as the building is completely upside down, tilted at an angle, and stuck into the ground. Entrance into the museum is touted as “inverting” visitors to the completely upside down interior. And the exhibits are no less fascinating, offering the unusual works of art, science, nature, and technology in one big hands-on playground for kids and adults alike.
· Device to Root Out Evil – while it is a building, the unusual part stems from its vertical positioning. This sculpture from American artist, Dennis Oppenheim, has made a couple of moves within Canadian provinces, ever since its rejection by Stanford University President, for fear of controversy. The open walls and roof of most of the structure alludes to more like summer houses, but upon closer inspection, the protrusion from its roof thrust into the ground is obviously a steeple, and the artistic title makes sense, somewhat. The hand-blown glass roof shingles are quite reflective of sunlight in daylight hours and are illuminated underneath by night. Though some might think the artist was making some religious point about the church turned upside down and obliterating evil from the earth, he says he was simply showing the nature between function and architecture.