Most of us live in homes that look like traditional houses or apartments. Some more adventurous folk have decided that the ‘two up, two down’ is not for them. There are numerous homes across the world that defy the norm in house building. There are houses built in the shape of animals, houses covered in single colored paint and houses that are made in the shape of other structures, like shoes or planes or melting marshmallows.
Architects with a vivid imagination have developed some of the most individual and inspiring homes that are pieces of art, as well as functional homes. Some homes are built upside down, and the challenges of accommodating that space have been surpassed in terms of a comfortable home. One homeowner made a feature of his home by covering it in the remains of 50,000 beer cans. Some of these extravagantly designed homes cost millions of dollars to construct, for instance, the Bubble House in France cost $9 million. You can even commission a home underwater if you have millions of dollars to spare.
10. Transparent House in Tokyo, Japan
It sounds like some people’s idea of a nightmare, but this home in Tokyo is completely made of glass and therefore affords no privacy to the occupants. It was designed by Sou Fujimoto Architects. The house has three storeys with virtually no interior walls, just glass and is known as House NA. The inspiration from the owners was the concept of Japanese ancestors living in trees and having access to different height levels and being able to see out into the distance. The house embodies this impression and allows inhabitants to be seen and heard all around the home.
It is constructed from a frame of white steel. That and the expanse of glass make it an odd sight on the Tokyo street where it rests. Perhaps it doesn’t resemble a tree in its appearance, but it has the feeling of a tree house and certainly provokes a reaction. There are 914 square feet of living space in the house and obviously plenty of natural light! The young couple, for whom the house was designed, wanted to feel like nomads in their home. There are different floor plates in the home, offset at different levels, which fulfill their dreams of tree-living and give the feeling of being perched on branches.
9. Skateboard House, Malibu, California, USA
The Skateboard House in Malibu was designed for Pierre Andre Senizergues. He is a professional skateboarder and a former world champion in the sport. He still works in the sport in a business capacity and is evidently obsessed with everything to do with skateboarding. Every surface inside and outside the house is curved for skateboarding. The home is completely iconoclastic as there has never been a house designed as a home and a skateboarding space together.
The three levels that comprise the home are curved like an inner tube, and even the furniture is designed for skateboarding on. The bed, chairs, and tables can all be skated on, and it would be possible to skate from the outside to the inside and all around the house, in a continuous ribbon. The house has three levels: a living room, kitchen and dining space; a bedroom and bathroom and the third is purely designed for skateboarding practice. There is also a skateboarding practice area outside, and it is possible to skate up and down the exterior walls as well. The house, which is made of concrete and glass, has views of the Pacific Ocean and was designed by Gil Lebon Delapointe.
8. Hobbit House, Wales
In the JRR Tolkien books, the hobbit characters lived in small dwellings, partially underground, with curved roofs, inspired by nature. One man took this concept to the next level when he built this Hobbit House in Wales. The structure is also designed to be ultimately environmentally friendly and cost only just over £5,000 ($6634 US) to construct. What is more amazing is the minimal amount of tools that were used to construct the house, there was barely more than a chainsaw involved in the whole project.
It was built for a family who planned to work in local environmental volunteer projects, and they needed somewhere to stay where they would not have to pay a mortgage. They wanted to find a way to live economically, so they constructed the house with natural materials from the local area and used friends and locals to do the construction work. Tim Wheeler, whose home it is, came across the idea by accident. He wanted a small dwelling inspired by a garden shed, and the project evolved into the Hobbit House as the house was built. Since he finished his environmental volunteering, Tin rents the home out to visitors and it is hugely popular among Lord of the Rings fans.
7. Giant Seashell House, Mexico City
This home is a stunningly beautiful and rests in the Mexican town of Isla Mujeres. The inspiration of the house is the sea life in the area and the house is shaped like a giant seashell. The interior is also inspired by seashells, and the décor and furniture inside follow the same theme. The home is available to rent and sits in a stunning seaside location and has its own private pool. The house was designed by Eduardo Ocampo, who made the home for his brother. The area is famous for its shells and Ocampo ensured that all the features and decoration were either curved to represent the seashell or inspired by a sea theme.
The house is made up of two buildings. The first is a larger shell that has two stories with a kitchen, dining area, and master bedroom, which is reached by a spiral staircase. The upper floor offers a balcony with views over the ocean. The smaller shell has just a bedroom and bathroom. The smaller building is shaped exactly like a conch shell and the decoration on the outer walls is comprised of shells, tiles and panels of beautiful colored glass that catch the light as the sun shines on it.
6. Egg House, Beijing, China
One young Beijing resident was fed up with sky-high rent in his native city. So, he designed and built his own house on the pavement. It is a pod home that resembles an egg, hence its name. It is made out of a bamboo frame and is only two meters high. He planted grass seed on the exterior so that the house will be covered in grass on the outside, and also incorporated a solar panel to power the electricity for the pod.
Dai Haifei, who built the egg house for less than $1,000, works long hours as an architect, so he only spends a few hours a night in his home, which has a bed, a water tank, and a few necessities. Dai did not want his parents to spend their lives saving to help him buy a home, nor did he want to live outside the city and spend hours traveling to work. He could not afford the high rents in the city so his Egg House seemed to be the ideal solution. Because there are no washing facilities in the pod, Dai used the money he saved on rent to pay for a gym membership so he can use the shower there. He has no kitchen, so eats out in local restaurants and rides his bike to work.
5. Toilet-Shaped House, outside Seoul, South Korea
The toilet-shaped house was built in South Korea, about forty kilometers from the capital, Seoul. It cost around $1.6 million to build and was commissioned by the president of the World Toilet Association, Sim Jae-Duck, who was also the major of the town at the time. The house showcases the latest and best design in toilets, as well as looking like one. The house is made of concrete and glass and has a central focal toilet that promotes the loo, and provides a mist in the room to help with relaxation while you are using the facilities! The house is a model of sanitation and Sim Jae-Duck declared that he dedicated the house to the two billion people worldwide who live without a toilet.
Sim Jae-Duck has an obsession with the sanitary item, having been born in a toilet. After his death, the city transformed the home into a museum devoted to the toilet. Two of the floors are completed devoted to the health benefits of the loo. The garden of the museum includes a giant sculpture of a golden poo that people love to have their photos taken next to.
4. Aeroplane House, Miziara, Lebanon
The Aeroplane House was built in Miziara in Lebanon in 1975 and was the concept of an Australian couple. They built their home as an exact replica of an Airbus A380 according to The Atlantic. It has two floors and includes all the comforts of a home and views of mountains from the thirty portholes on each side of the ‘plane.’ It is reached from an outer staircase that mimics the stairs that would lead to a plane in an airport terminal.
Miziara, although it is just a small village, is known for its unusual houses. The Plane House doesn’t seem so out of place among Egyptian ruins and replica Greek temples. In fact, the designer of the Plane House also built a replica pyramid house in the same village. Other people have turned old planes into homes, but the Miziara version was designed and made from scratch to resemble a plane. It has a detailed nose, wings, and reactors, just as the real Airbus. Inside the home, it doesn’t resemble a traditional plane interior. There are strip lighting, long sofas, and sliding doors, and none of the usual overhead lockers to impede space.
3. Dome Houses, Indonesia
There was a horrific earthquake in the city of Yogyakarta after the tsunami of 2004, which left thousands of Indonesians without a home. So, the government built some new homes for them in the shape of domes. There are seventy of them and they make an unusual sight in the Indonesian countryside. The cluster of white dwellings is constructed of concrete and steel. The homes are designed with environmental issues in mind, so they use minimal energy. Vital to the disaster survivors, the homes are also fire and disaster-proof.
The domes are known as EcoShells and have optional electricity, so the residents can be as environmentally friendly as they wish to be. They include toilet, laundry and washing facilities and water is saved in a central dome where villagers can take what they need from outside taps. The domes were built by local people and used local materials, so they were relatively cheap to produce. The village also has its own road system and a community garden for growing produce. Trees were also planted to replace those that were lost in the earthquake and a children’s play area.
2. Streamline Home, Inverloch, Australia
This modern structure in Inverloch, Australia, gives the impression of an alien craft landing on earth. The brief for the architect, James Stockwell, was to provide a home that picked up elements of the natural environment and streamlined it to provide an amazing view of the local coasts. The resulting Croft House lies low to the ground in a smooth domed structure. Visitors say it is camouflaged by the surrounding natural landscape and doesn’t impose at all on the Australian bush. The lake outside the home provides a beautiful mirrored reflection of the home.
The curves of the structure represent those found in nature, namely light, heat and sound. The structure is designed to protect the owners against winds. This feature would be vital in a traditional agricultural farm. The home features cut-outs in the curves that provide the coastal views that comprised part of the brief. The zinc covering of the exterior adds to the feeling of a spaceship, but the owners say that inside, the home is cozy and warm. The ash timber lining of the interior certainly gives a warm impression, and the open plan design provides plenty of views of the stunning landscape.
1. Thin House, Poland
When looking at the exterior of this house in Warsaw, designed by Jacob Szczesny, it seems impossible that a home could fit into such a small space. Jacob believes that no urban land should go undeveloped, so when he spotted this slim gap between two buildings, he was inspired to fit his home into it. Indeed, the widest point of the Keret House is 122 centimetres, reducing to 72 centimetres at its thinnest. It has a curved line to the exterior, which is painted in white.
The ‘house’ is even too small to be considered a residence under Polish regulations, so instead, it is classed as piece of art. The house is now rented out to artists and derived its name from one of its artists in residence, Etgar Keret. Made of iron, the two-story house has one bedroom, kitchen, living space and a bathroom. It is not connected to the city’s water supply and uses electricity from one of its neighboring buildings. There are ladders to get from one storey to the next, and entry to the building is gained via a staircase that retracts to form the base of the living space.