Thursday, May 13, 2010

World's Strangest Buildings

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.

Selfridges Department Store
Birmingham, England

Ontario College of Art and Design
This crossword puzzle checked box appears, at a distance, to be hovering Close Encounters–style above an otherwise mundane Toronto neighborhood
Ramot Polin Apartments
Jerusalem, Israel
Polish-born architect Zvi Hecker’s experiment in multi-unit residential construction is not as well known as the Habitat housing Moshe Safdie designed for Expo 67 in Montreal, but at 720 units is much larger.
Designed by Jiang Huan Cheng of the Shanghai Modern Architectural Design Co. and completed in 1995, it stands 1,535 feet tall and is easily the world’s greatest assemblage of habitable disco balls (11!), housing several sightseeing observatories, a revolving restaurant, and a “space hotel

Spittelau District Heating Plant
Vienna, Austria

Highly eccentric painter and architect Friedensreich Hundertwasser, fond of bright colors, crooked lines, and overall visual cacophony, designed this garbage-burning heating plant on the Donau Canal to look like Vienna’s answer to the Magic Kingdom

Elbe Philharmonic
Hamburg, Germany

What’s really freakish here is the contrast between the new building—a liquidy-looking glass thingamajig—and the old building it uses for its podium: a stolid, workaday 1960s waterfront warehouse.

The Atomium
Brussels, Belgium

A 1958 World’s Fair leftover, the Atomium is far more eccentric than the 1964 Unisphere in New York or the 1962 Space Needle in Seattle