There are a lot of beautiful buildings in the world. There are just as many ugly ones. In between, you’ve got the mediocre, boring, or unoriginal, and then, in a realm all of their own, are the downright weird ones—the ones you have to see to believe.
In this category, you find the properties that represent the whimsical side of the design and prove there is no idea too out there when it comes to constructing a building. Like their unusual facades, many of these structures also have unexpected histories and backgrounds that make their existence that much more alluring. Below are 12 examples of the strangest architecture in the world, including buildings cut in half and upside down and others shaped like animals and objects.
The Big Duck on Long Island, New York
Martin Maurer, a local duck farmer, originally commissioned a duck-shaped building to sell eggs, in in 1931. What he didn’t realize is that his store would soon serve as the inspiration for a whole new discipline in architecture.
The 10-ton building caught the attention of husband-and-wife architect duo Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown, who coined the term “duck architecture,” which was used to describe buildings that represent items or activities that happen within them. Not only does The Big Duck carry this honor, it’s also listed in the National Archives of Historic Places.
Longaberger basket building in Newark, Ohio
A classic example of “duck architecture,” this building, sometimes called the Big Basket, used to be the headquarters for the The Longaberger Company, a basket manufacturer and distributor. The company moved in 2016 and the building was sold to Steve Coon, a developer in the state, who had plans to turn it into a luxury hotel, though now it’s back on the market for $6.5 million.
Azerbaijan National Carpet Museum in Baku, Azerbaijan
If you guessed from the picture that something related to carpets takes place inside this Baku building, you’d be right. Home of the Azerbaijan National Carpet Museum, the institution displays the largest collection of Azerbaijani carpets, showcasing both historical and modern weaving techniques. The building was designed by Austrian architect Franz Janz and took six years to build.
Dog Bark Inn in Cottonwood, Idaho
Situated along highway 95, in Cottonwood, Idaho, this beagle-shaped building is actually a bed-and-breakfast. Guests enter the suite through a private, second-story patio that leads into the body of the pup. Once inside, a stairway takes you to the head of the dog where there is additional sleeping space and an alcove in the muzzle.
Crooked House in Sopot, Poland
Though it may look like this commercial building is melting or caving in on itself, it’s architecturally sound. Built in 2004, the building was designed by architects Szotyńscy & Zaleski, who were inspired by Jan Szancer’s children’s book illustrations. Standing at 4,000 square feet, inside you’ll find shops, office space, restaurants, and the Polish version of the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Quetzalcóatl Nest in Mexico City, Mexico
Designed by architect Javier Senosiain, this iridescent snake-shaped Airbnb is inspired by the serpent Aztec god, Quetzalcóatl. Including both a head and tail, most of the rooms are in the belly of the beast, which are accessible through tunneled walkways. Not only was this property featured on Netflix’s The World’s Most Amazing Vacation Rentals, singer Dua Lipa even stayed at the property.
CSAV Headquarters in Valparaíso, Chile
The headquarter for CSAV, a Chilean shipping company, makes use of an interesting architectural technique known as facadism, where a new building is constructed behind or around a preserved facade. In this case, a modern structure appears to shoot out from within the old building, creating a dramatic transition from old to new.
National Fisheries Development Board in Hyderabad, India
Another animal building, this aquatic structure is the headquarters for the National Fisheries Development Board, in Hyderabad, India, though it’s colloquially referred to as “the fish building.” Impressive enough in the daylight, at night, blue spotlights shine on the building, creating the illusion that the fish is swimming through the city.
Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood in Hollywood, Florida
Surprisingly enough, this guitar-shaped building isn’t in Nashville or Austin, but in Hollywood, Florida. Opened in 2019, the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood is 36 stories tall and encompasses 638 rooms and suites, in addition to an entertainment venue that holds 7,000.
Half House in Toronto, Canada
Unlike most of the buildings in this article, this Victorian town house in Toronto wasn’t meant to look like this. Originally part of a row of similar homes, developers eventually came knocking and all families on the street sold, except for the one that owned this property, the Valkos. Determined to move forward with their plans, developers tore down all the other homes, leaving what looks like a house sliced right down the middle.
WonderWorks in Orlando, Florida
The company slogan at WonderWorks, an educational entertainment company, is “let your imagination run wild,” which is exactly what their architects did when creating this building in Orlando, Florida. However, the building’s strange design is a big part of the center’s lore. The story goes that a tornado was released inside Professor Wonder’s laboratory, which carried it all the way from a remote island in the Bermuda Triangle to the place where it eventually lands in this disheveled way. The company has other locations across the country, which are also upside down.
Niimi Building in Tokyo, Japan
Amusement parks aren’t the only place you’re able to step into human-sized teacups. Niimi, a Japanese kitchenware wholesaler, uses huge teacups as balconies, in its building, in Tokyo. This structure is in Asakusa, which also happens to be where the famous Buddhist temple, Sensō-ji, is located.