9 Terrible Architectural Decisions That Will Leave You Scratching Your Head

Architecture is serious business, but when it goes wrong it can have hilarious consequences.
Christopher McFadden

Even architects are not immune to messing up from time to time. Thankfully for us, most of the ones included in this list only have minor issues. 

But when an architect really messes up, the consequences can be at best amusing and at worst fatal! Here we will focus on the former. 


What is the objective of architectural design?

Put simply, it is to design a building for human use. It can either be purely functional or, in most cases, is designed to both inspire and protect its occupants.

But each architect has their own motives and objectives whenever they dream up their particular plans. 

"The task of architecture is the creation of human environments. It is both an expression of human values and a context for human activity. Through the design process, architecture addresses the interrelated environmental, behavioral, and cultural issues that underlie the organization of built form." - Yale University

What are the world's worst architectural decisions?

Unfortunately, there are many examples of questionable architecture around the world. You probably have your own "hit-list" of buildings you love to demolish but here are some of the most notable from across the globe (courtesy of The Richest): 

  • Malaysia’s First World Hotel
  • Jaiyi County Church
  • The Tours Aillaud
  • The Fang Yuan Building
  • The Longaberger Company Headquarters
  • The Villa Faberge
  • The De Vere Grand Harbour Hotel
  • Freedom Cove

  • Hotel Ryugyong
  • Penn Station
  • The Tianzi Hotel
  • 3121 Antelo Rd
  • MIT’s Strata Center
  • 74380 Palo Verde Drive
  • 1010 Hilldale Ave.

What are some examples of bad architectural decisions?

So, without further ado, here are some questionable architectural design choices from the magical world of the internet. Trust us when we say this list is far from exhaustive and is in no particular order. 

1. The case of the rogue staircase

bad architecture decisions stairs
Source: DaileDoe/Reddit

In this example, we have an interesting choice of location for a staircase. Placed pretty much right outside a bedroom door, this is an accident waiting to happen. 

In the spirit of the chicken and the egg, it would be interesting to know which came first. Was the staircase originally there and the doorway opened up years later, or vice versa? 

Either way an interesting choice. Perhaps the former homeowner despised having guests?

2. The case of the convenient column

bad architectural decisions column
Source: FR4NG0M1LGR4L/Reddit

Sadly this is an all-too-common occurrence in car parks. Inconveniently placed columns can be found in many underground carparks around the world. 

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To be fair, since it is a structural element it is probably more important than a car parking space. That being said, whoever painted the demarcation lines could have planned it a bit better.

At least paint some diagonal lines in the space to avoid getting drivers' hopes up! 

3. The peculiar case of the window blinds

This Hotel has restroom blinds that operate from the outside. I'm posting this while my wife watches me poo. Any reason for this to be intentional? from r/CrappyDesign

To be fair this one is probably the fault of interior designers, but what the heck? Since the whole point of these blinds is to provide privacy for the toilet user why, oh, why are they on the outside?

Not only is this incredibly inconvenient, but it also sort of defeats the object of them. Thanks to this genius design, toilet users are at the mercy of their roommates (if any) to not open them up again for a laugh. 


4. The interesting case of the useless accessibility ramp

bad architectural decisions ramp
Source: Chow4/Reddit

In yet another case of questionable architectural decisions, we have this fine example. After going through all the trouble to design and construct a perfectly serviceable ramp, one later decision renders the work pointless. 

The interesting choice to place a railing across the top of the ramp is scintillatingly silly. Unless the disabled person in question loves a bit of limbo, of course. 

Either that or they are a teeny-tiny person. Whatever the case, not our problem.  

5. The case of the inconveniently placed electrical socket

bad architectural designs plugs
Source: Boerenboterhammenzak/Reddit

Here we present yet another interesting architectural design choice. We are not entirely sure if the socket was placed too low, or this is an extremely thick piece of carpet.

Either way, this electrical socket is, more or less, completely useless. You could probably plug in an electric-shaver plug, but that is about it. 

But from a fire safety point of view, surely this wouldn't pass muster? 

6. The case of the stair balustrade-eating column

bad architectural designs stairs and column
Source: GelatinSkeleton3/Reddit

Here is yet another fascinatingly ingenious architectural design flaw. Surely it is not that difficult to plan staircases around structural columns within a building?

Of course, this could be a case of later remodeling gone wrong. Not only does this look a little silly, but it also defeats the object of the balustrade at this point of the staircase!

But, if computer games have taught us anything, this could be proof that we do live in a simulation. It might be the glitch in the matrix we've all been searching for!

7. The interesting case of the casino toilet

bad architectural decisions toilet
Source: jjuussttiiss/Reddit

We wonder if the architect responsible for example 3 above was behind this genius decision as well? This, apparently, is the toilet to a local casino. 

Who needs privacy when "dropping the kids off at the pool" anyway, right? Or maybe this is a special toilet for exhibitionists? 

We have this on good authority (well Reddit) so this could be misinformation. However, given its sterile and functional look, it still wouldn't be a great window display. 

Let's hope this is some kind of modern art!

8. The case of the wasted stairs

bad architectural decisions stairs 2
Source: cptaixel/Reddit

Here is another common design flaw around the world. After taking the time to design a lovely set of steps, someone has come along placed and handrail right through the middle of it!

We'll be generous and suggest this was a later addition to the site. Even so, the aesthetics are pretty bad. 

Oh well, safety first!

9. And finally, the case of the dodgy "protract-door"

bad architectural decisions protractor
Source: TheOx11/Reddit

And last, but by no means least, the pièce de résistance of bad architectural design choices. Having taken the time to beautifully mark out a protractor on the floor, some other genius has come along and messed the whole thing up.

Either this is a protest by whoever installed the door, or the person who marked out the protractor needs to re-think their life. How does something like this happen? 

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