These architectural oddities range from super-modern skyscrapers to organic treehouses, but all share the common theme of being super trippy.
The single biggest architectural project here is Brasilia, the capital of Brazil. The entire downtown was designed by Oscar Niemeyer in the late 1950s and had a totally futuristic style, that to this day remains almost UFO-like. But there are lots of individual buildings and even small dwellings that blend the lines between art and architecture for their curvilinear forms or way they flow into the landscape.
How do the spaces you inhabit affect you? What are the strangest buildings and spaces in your area?
Set on a hilltop in Santo Domingo near Medellin, Colombia—an area that was heavily affected by violence and drug trafficking in the 1980s and 1990s—Biblioteca España was built as part of an initiative to enhance urban development and to provide more opportunity to the city's poorest residents.
Dutch cube houses
Netherlands residences shaped like cubes, theKubuswoningen, or Cube Houses, are a set of innovative houses designed by architect Piet Blom in 1984 in Rotterdam. There are 38 small cubes and two so called "super-cubes," all attached to each other.
Photo: Andrea de Poda
"Vortex House" was an art installation in Montrose, Houston, on a house awaiting demolition. Unfortunately, the house has already been torn down.
Photo: Michael Cote
Dalat's Crazy House
This strange hotel was designed by Dang Viet Nga, an avant-garde artist who got away with more weirdness than she otherwise would because she was the daughter of Ho Chi Mihn's successor. It's known as "Crazy House."
Seattle Central Library
The Seattle Central Library was built in 2004 to be an inviting and functional public space. Its "Book Spiral" displays the library's entire nonfiction collection in one continuously winding run, enabling library-goers to peruse the 4-level section without being interrupted by stairs.
Photo: Stephen J. Friedman, MD
This fairytale-inspired building is part of a shopping center in Sopot, Poland, and its name means "little crooked house."
Master architect Oscar Niemeyer (December 15, 1907 – December 5, 2012) was among the most influential designers of all time. When Brazil decided to build its new capital city Brasilia in a spacious inland area, he had the rare opportunity to design and build an entire interlinked downtown which included the congress, supreme court, and cathedral.
The Twisted House in the Indianapolis Arts Center in Indiana was created by John McNaughton of Evansville. It is made of cedar.
Photo: Serge Melki
Upside down house
An upside down house in Trassenheide in Germany. Even the furniture inside is stuck to the ceiling.
Hotel Marqués de Riscal
This is a smart fusion of award-winning wine and avant-garde architecture. Spain’s Rioja vino is a favorite for many, and a visit to the region makes for an interesting trip in rural Spain, especially if staying at Hotel Maqués de Riscal. The hotel’s flamboyant style is signature Gehry, who has left his artistic imprint on other parts of the country as well.
Trippy Singapore density
The sheer density of Singapore's buildings warrants its spot on this list.
Photo: Aiste Stancikaite
While this traditional home wedged into the roof of Vienna's modern art museum may look perfectly residential (except for being upside down), it's an art piece designed by Erwin Werm.
Recently built in Guangzhou, China, this enormous glowing donut is actually a hotel. It was designed so that the reflection of the building would form a number 8, a lucky number in Chinese culture.
Designed by Frank Gehry and supported by Vaclav Havel, this government administrative center in Prague looks like someone melted half an office building and smooshed it into the other half. It's on the Czech 2,000-koruna coin.
The "Maison Gaudet" bubble houses in the south of France are designed by Antti Lovag, an anti-conformist architect with no diploma who built this residence after an experimental model in 1969.
Photo: Muracciole Jean-Marie
This fantastic building was built in Brussels for the 1958 World's Fair. Standing 335ft tall, the structure lacks sufficient external support, so only six of the nine spheres are open to the public.
This stunning modernist building in Barcelona was designed by Gaudí for a family home but is now used primarily for a museum and event space.
A Bahá'í temple in New Delhi, India, the Lotus Temple has drawn over 50 million visitors since it opened, making it one of the most visited buildings in the world.
Montaña Mágica Lodge
This Chilean eco-hotel is located in the middle of a UNESCO-preserved rainforest and is built inside a manmade volcano that erupts water from the top, which flows down the sides.
This amazing shell-shaped house was built as a family home in 2006 and is full of natural glass mosaics that reflect colored light into the rooms.
Free Spirit Spheres
Free Spirit is a campground with style—you stay in suspended spherical treehouses in the temperate rainforest of Vancouver Island.
This German residential building complex looks like an organic layer cake and contains 105 apartments and a small courtyard with an artificial lake. It also has a green roof.
Lyons Airport Train Station
Lack of public transportation to nearby Lyons makes this beautiful train station difficult to use for anyone who isn't hopping a TGV train to the Alps, but it's directly attached to the airport, making it the first impression many tourists get of southern France.
The Motisons Jewellers building in Jaipur is designed to look like a lotus flower and illuminates at night.
The Birmingham Bull Ring is a shopping center and gathering place, built on the same place where markets in Birmingham, UK, have been held since 1154.
This treehouse in Laos sleeps up to 8 people, and somehow has sufficient enough plumbing for a kitchen, a bathroom, and a shower. The Gibbon Experience runs these guesthouses, all of which are connected to one another with zip lines, and all profits are reinvested into conservation projects within the reserve.
Photo: Christian Haugen
This nature-inspired fairytale castle is actually an event center and museum in the tiny town of Staad, Switzerland.
The Dynamic Tower is a prospective 80-floor moving skyscraper in Dubai that will change shape as it rotates. It will be powered entirely by wind turbines and solar power and is still in the planning stages.
Montreal's Olympic Stadium was built for the 1976 Olympics and has the largest seating capacity of any Canadian stadium. While the design is impressive, the workmanship is shoddy, and chunks of the building's concrete have been falling off since shortly after its completion.
Frank Gehry's modern art museum in Bilbao, Spain, is often lauded as one of the most fantastically designed buildings in the world.