19 of Europe's Most Unusual Buildings You Can Visit
Like any other art form, architecture has its masterpieces and not-so-masterpieces. While many of the great buildings around the world tend to fall into easily distinguishable architectural styles, others can be attributed their own unique styles.
Here are some prime examples of this from around Europe.
What are some of the most unusual buildings in Europe?
If you are a fan of avant-garde architecture, then there are some interesting and unusual buildings you can visit in Europe. This list, like any list of this nature, is far from exhaustive and is in no particular order.
1. The Cube Houses in Rotterdam are pretty odd
The Cube Houses, kubuswoningen in Dutch, are some of the most unusual buildings you can find in Europe. Built in Rotterdam, they were designed by architect Piet Blom, and are supposedly based on the concept of "living in an urban roof."
One of the city's most iconic landmarks, as the name suggests, the houses are a set of angled cubes tiled at 45 degrees. Built over 30 years ago, these houses have become something of a popular tourist attraction for the city.
This unusual design is to optimize the available space inside the houses. 38 were built in total, with two more "super-cubes" also constructed.
The houses are all connected together on a terrace, and one of them has been converted to a museum for curious visitors to explore.
2. Casa Batlló in Barcelona is a strange looking building
Located at Paseo de Gracia in Barcelona, Casa Batlló is another of the world's most unusual buildings. It was designed by the great Antonio Gaudi, who was given complete creative freedom for the building by its owner Josep Batlló y Casanovas.
Widely considered one of Gaudi's masterpiece designs, the current building is a redesign of a late-1800s period building. Locally known as Casa dels ossos (The House of Bones), the building's facade has a noticeable skeletal and organic feel.
During the redesign, Gaudi completely reimagined its facade, moved internal partitioning, and effectively turned the original building into a useable piece of art. It was sold by the Batlló family in the 1950s and has since changed hands several times.
Today, the building is owned by the Bernat family who has fully restored it. It has been open to the public since 1995.
3. The Upside Down House in Poland is certainly something you wouldn't expect
Another of the world's most unusual buildings is the "Upside Down House" in Poland. Built in 2007, this house is one of the most iconic landmarks in the country and has become something of a local tourist attraction.
Located near the village of Szymbark in the north of the country, it is the only one of its kind in Poland. It was also the first of its kind in Europe.
The house is essentially a fully furnished home with the exception that the exterior appears to be built on its roof — hence the name. The interior furnishings are similar to those of a 1970s socialist house including an old television that plays vintage propaganda on loop.
4. The "Crooked House" in Sopot, Poland is a very unusual building
The "Crooked House", or Krzywy Domek, in Polish, is another of the world's oddest buildings. Located in Sopot, Poland, the building was built in 2004.
Part of the Rezydent shopping center, its stretches to around 13,120 square feet (4,000 square meters) over several floors. The building was designed by Szotyńscy & Zaleski, who were supposedly inspired by the fairytale drawings and illustrations of Jan Marcin Szancer and Per Dahlberg.
The building houses restaurants, shops, and even a radio station, and is one of the city's most recognizable landmarks. It has also become a tourist attraction too.
5. St. Basil's Cathedral in Moscow is beautiful, but it is weird
One of Russia's most iconic buildings, St. Basil's Catherdral is undoubtedly beautiful, but it is an unusual design. An orthodox church located in Red Square, Moscow, the building is now a museum and one of the city's most visited tourist attractions.
Officially known as the "Cathedral of the Intercession of the Most Holy Theotokos on the Moat", or the "Pokrovsky Cathedral", it was built in the mid-16th-century on the orders of Ivan the Terrible. Its construction was thought to have been ordered to commemorate the capture of Kazan and Astrakhan and it was the tallest building in the city at the time of its construction.
Its prominent domes, 9 in total, are said to represent flames rising into the sky, and its colorful style is quite unusual. Although onion domes are a common feature of Russian churches, there are no contemporary analogs for the designs and colors used for the domes of St Basil's cathedral. Some believe that it may have been inspired by the Qolşärif Mosque, which was raised with the capture of Kazan.
For this reason, it really is one of the most unusual buildings in the world. Albeit it is also one of the world's most prized architectural treasures.
6. Kunsthaus Graz in Austria ia particularly strange
Kunsthaus Graz (also known as Grazer Kunsthaus, or Graz Art Museum) is another of Europe's most unusual buildings. Built as part of the European Capital of Culture celebrations in the early-2000s, it has since become one of Austria's landmarks.
It was designed by Colin Fournier, who, according to the Bartlett School of Architecture at University College London, said that it was designed from the outset to be deliberately provocative. Currently a museum of contemporary art from the 1960s onwards, the building is an example of so-called "blob" architecture.
Its exterior cladding comprises of blue acrylic panels that also double as photovoltaic panels (aka. solar panels). Locally known as the "Friendly Alien" or "Black Tumor", the building is located in Graz, Austria.
7. The "Snail House" in Bulgaria actually does look like a snail
Aptly called the "Snail House", this building truly has earned its place on this list of Europe's most unusual buildings. Designed to resemble a crawling snail, it is located in the Simeonovo neighborhood on the outskirts of Sofia, Bulgaria.
Something of a local tourist attraction, the house was designed by architect Simeon Simeonov. Five-stories tall, its exterior is also painted in vibrant colors and patterns.
Construction began in around 1999, and took 10 years to complete.
8. "House Attack" in Austria, just why?
Resembling the aftermath of a house being launched at castle walls from a giant catapult, "House Attack" in Austria is another of Europe's oddest buildings. The work of artist Erwin Wurm, the house attached to the larger building is more of an art piece than a functional building, per se.
Affixed to the facade of the Museum Moderner Kunst in Vienna, Austria, it was installed in 2006. The installation has since been removed.
9. "Mind House" in Spain looks almost alive
Part of Antoni Gaudi's Parc Güell in Barcelona, the "Mind House" is another very odd-looking building. A UNESCO World Heritage site, the "Mind House" sits at the entrance to the park and is one of its most popular tourist attractions.
The house is typical of Gaudi's unique style and incorporates many features reminiscent of the natural world. Its construction includes colorful pottery, pieces of glass, mosaics, along with concrete sculptures of fantastic animals.
The park was originally designed as a garden city, and today, it's a public park and one of the Catalonian city's most famous landmarks. Commissioned by Eusebi Güell, the park was originally conceived to accommodate housing, studios, a chapel as well as gardens, but only a few houses were eventually built.
The City of Barcelona bought the park in 1922, and it has been a public park ever since.
10. The "Stone House" in the Fafe Mountains, Portugal is actually pretty cool
The "Stone House", otherwise known as Casa do Penedo in Portuguese, is another very unusual European building. An architectural monument today, it is located between Celorico de Basto and Fafe, in northern Portugal.
The name comes from the fact that the building is built between a series of large boulders that serve as its foundations, most of its walls, and even parts of its ceiling. Construction began in the early-1970s, and the entire build took around two years to complete.
Originally built as a holiday destination for the building's owner, today it is a museum of relics and photographs showing the building's history.
11. The Russian State Scientific Centre in St. Peterburg looks a bit evil
Looking like something out of "The Lord of the Rings", the tulip-shaped structure at the Russian State Scientific Center for Robotics and Technical Cybernetics, is another very unusual building. One of the leading research facilities in Russia, it is located in St. Petersburg.
The facility specializes in software and hardware development, as well as robotics and technical cybernetics — as the official name suggests.
The facility was fundamental in the development of the Soyuz spacecraft and the robotic probe Luna 16. It also assisted in the development of robotic drones for radiation monitoring at Chernobyl.
12. The Heliodome in France is a very bold design
Another of Europe's most unusual buildings is the Heliodome in France. Designed by cabinet maker Eric Wasser, the building was designed to be as environmentally-friendly as possible at its time of construction.
A passive solar house, it was built at an angle precisely calculated to provide shade during the summer months to keep the house cool and temperate, and enough sun during the winter months to warm the interior.
Its basic design is based on a sundial, and after a decade or so of research, Wasser filed a patent for his design in the early-2000s.
13. The "Monument to the Revolution" in Croatia is a dead-ringer for the Pokémon Magnemite
Possibly the inspiration for Magnemite from Pokémon, The "Monument to the Revolution" is another very unusual European building. Officially known as the "Monument to the Revolution of the people of Moslavina", it is a World War II memorial sculpture located in Podgarić, Berek municipality, Croatia.
It was built to commemorate the local community's rebellion and uprising against Ustaše occupying forces in the greater Moslavina and Zagreb region during WWII (known in Croatia as the National Liberation).
The monument was designed by Dušan Džamonja and stands around 32.8 feet (10 meters) tall by 65.6 feet (20 meters) wide. It was built in 1967 and took around 2 years to complete.
The monument is built from poured concrete on steel rebar with aluminum sheeting.
14. This adjustable house in Velke Hamry, Czech Republic is amazing
Built by a Czech builder Bohumil Lhota, this adjustable house is another very unusual building. Located in Velke Hamry (about 62 miles/100 km NE of Prague), this house can actually be moved.
Using a special mechanism, and some manpower, the house's height can be adjusted on-demand. It can also be rotated around its axis until the desired orientation is achieved.
Completed in 2012, Lhota had worked on the design since the 1980s. The idea was to develop a home that could enable him to get close to nature.
15. This building in Warsaw might be the world's narrowest
Installed in Warsaw in 2012, this unusual building might be the world's narrowest. Built as an art installation, the "Keret House" is 36-inches (92 cm) at its narrowest point.
The building was designed by architect Jakub Szczęsny, and is 4.99 feet (152 cm) wide at its widest point. The entire building is set over two-stories and was named after the Israeli writer and filmmaker Etgar Keret, who happened to be the building's very first tenant.
The Keret House is of primarily steel construction and has one bedroom, a kitchen, a bathroom, and a living area. In 2019, the building was named as one of the most iconic houses in the world.
16. There is actually a "Hobbit House" in Wales, UK
In a secluded location in Wales, UK you can actually find a Hobbit-style house. A "Lord of the Rings" fan's dream house, the house is also regarded as one of the world's most eco-friendly.
Designed and built by the Dale family, it took around 4-months to build and cost less than £3,000 to complete. Oak thinnings were used in its construction, as well as mud and stone for its floor.
Insulation is provided by straw bales. Lime plaster was used for the walls, and recycled wood was also used for flooring, fittings, windows, etc.
Other recycled materials were also used for the plumbing and wiring.
17. This family home is built inside a disused water tower
In the Belgian village of Steenokkerzeel, Belgium is another of Europe's most unusual buildings. A local businessman decided to convert a water tower into a very unique family home after it was left derelict for decades.
Called Chateau d'Eau, the water tower was originally built between 1938 and 1941 to supply the local village with potable water.
Refurbishment commenced in 2007, including a complete restoration of its exterior (including replacing damaged concrete columns) and a full redesign of its interior (for obvious reasons).
18. Church of the Holy Spirit is a very unusual building too
Located in Paks, Hungary, the Church of the Holy Spirit is another of Europe's strangest buildings. A Roman Catholic church, the building is also known as Makovecz church.
It was designed by Imre Makovecz and is widely considered one of the best examples of so-called organic architecture anywhere in the world. While relatively small, its architectural design makes it look a lot more monumental than it is in reality.
It was built between 1988 and 1990 and has become something of a local tourist attraction.
19. The Kosovo National Library looks less than approachable
And finally, another of the world's most unusual, dare we say unnerving, buildings is the National Library of Kosovo. Designed by the Croatian architect Andrija Mutnjaković, this monstrosity was built in 1982.
An example of brutalist architecture, its design was a controversial one from the very start. Attempting to reconcile and blend Islamic and Byzantine styles, the end result is often considered less than aesthetically pleasing.
Stretching over 1,375 square feet (16,500 square meters), the building has a total of 99 domes and houses 300 reading rooms, each with seating for 100.
The building collects, preserves, and promotes the region's intellectual heritage.
And that is your architecture-based lot for today. If you find yourself near any of these architectural-oddities, why not plan some time to pay them a visit?
You will not be disappointed.
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