From the Ancient Greek temples to the modern cities of today, the structure and style of buildings says a great deal about the people who made them. It not only shows what kinds of structures they thought were acceptable in terms of quality, but also which ones they preferred style-wise. Take the Gothic cathedrals, for example, which were created during a period of time that was ridden with plagues and the church held a great deal of power over the masses. So it’s only natural that their churches would be grandiose in scale with large stain-glass windows and tall spires reaching towards the sky. Yet due to the metal roof tiles and the decorative gargoyles, these churches also evoke a sense of gloom that was befitting of how the people felt at that time.
So with that said, certain styles of buildings will naturally go out of favor as people’s tastes change. Plus, as new building techniques are invented there is an increase in safety as far as the building’s sturdiness is concerned along with the basic internal functions such as heat air-flow and electricity. Yet time and again, these things have been ignored by some architects who either favor style over function or weren’t competent enough to see the problems that the building might experience before it was built in the first place. In either case, here are some head-scratching buildings that make one wonder what the architect was thinking.
30 House of Blues - Not Very Dynamic
Having multiple locations across the United States, this chain of restaurants is known for their live performances of Blues artists and food catered in the Southern tradition. Yet this particular location in Chicago doesn’t exactly evoke the dynamic and subtle notes that Blues music creates. In fact, it kind of looks like a dog carrier more than anything else with the basket-like structure of the place and flap-style curve along the roof. However, it’s apparently got an impressive music hall inside and it’s even owned by actor Dan Aykroyd of the Blues Brothers according to Chicago Bar Project.
29 “Dice Building” - Yikes!
In Stony Brook, New York, there is a hospital belonging to the local university. One of the buildings there is this dubious structure that’s been nicknamed the “Dice Building”. Originally built in the 1970s according to ARCHITECT DENIED, it is one of two that were created to house the Basic Sciences and Health Sciences classes. Yet based on its shape alone, it doesn’t seem like the safest place to have those things let alone people in them or delicate medical equipment. Fortunately, new expansions have been made in the years since and yet this building is still being occupied today.
28 Elephant Building - Adorable but Not Practical
Also known as the Chang Building, this unique high-rise complex in Thailand not only comes with 32 floors according to BKK Kids but it has also become a popular tourist attraction. Though it seems to have a duck-like face on the right, the whole structure is actually meant to resemble an elephant with the yellow bars representing the tusks and the vertical section that’s darker in color than the rest is supposed to be the ears. The reason for this design was to represent the “Symbolic elephants that have been an integral part of Thai culture” BKK Kids says.
27 Plug-In City 75 - Too Much Green
With so much fuss being made over cleaner energy sources, there’s been a rise in experimental houses that theoretically don’t use as much energy compared to regular homes. Though in the case of this apartment complex in Paris, it was made in the 1970s which was when awareness for renewable energy sources first came to light. Redesigned by Malka Architecture, it comes with a variety of environmentally friendly features including cube-shaped apartments “Made of bio-sourced wood” according to aasarchitecture as well as individual gardens (though whether the vines are a part of these gardens or not is debatable).
26 “Butterdome” - All That Margarine Goodness
Though it’s officially known as the Universiade Pavilion, it has gained the unfortunate nickname of the “Butterdome” due to its elongated horizontal structure and gold-colored exterior resembling a stick of butter just waiting to be cut into by a fork. Ironically enough, this building officially opened in 1983 in order to host the Summer World University Games according to SkyriseEdmonton and the nickname caught on shortly thereafter. While it’s primarily used by the University of Alberta sports teams to this day, many of the faculty and locals in Edmonton, Canada, have mixed feelings when it comes to the nickname.
25 Fang Yuan Building - One Big Coin
Looking more like an oversized glass and metal sculpture rather than an actual building, this thing resides in the city of Shenyang, China. With 25 floors total, its design is inspired by “Ancient Chinese coins” according to Time magazine. Also known as Cash (not to be confused with the term for paper money), they were unique in design compared to most coins in the world because they had square-shaped holes in the middle with Chinese characters etched along the edges. Though they aren’t used for actual currency anymore, they’re considered to be symbols of good luck, hence this building’s significance.
24 National Library of Kosovo - Strange Place for Learning
Formerly part of Serbia, Kosovo is a relatively new country in the international sense despite its long history that was (and still is) rife with conflict. Yet when one looks at the building in the above picture, which is located in Kosovo’s capital Pristina, it’s hard to tell whether it is old or new. While the concrete walls and barbed wire on the windows would suggest the former, its odd design and bubble-shaped domes make it seem like a poor attempt at a modern building. But it turns out the building was constructed in the 1970s according to duckholiday.
23 Lincoln Plaza - UK Architecture at Its Ugliest
Winner of the 2016 Carbuncle Cup, Dezeen states, this building is one of the most prominent buildings in the Canary Wharf district which is where a lot of London’s financial buildings are. With glass balconies that protrude outward and a zigzag patterning of horizontal and vertical windows, it’s like an optical illusion that isn’t fun to look at once all the faults are revealed. Yet just like 15 Clerkenwell Close, this nomination also attracted controversy. Only this time, it wasn’t because the building was given a good reward but because there are those who feel the Carbuncle Cup is shallow.
22 Biomuseo - Tacky but Loved
What looks to be several pieces of origami paper crumpled together in a big messy pile is actually an art gallery designed by Frank Gehry. Known for designing buildings like the Walt Disney Concert Hall, according to Dezeen, this particular building was a personal project that he wanted to give to the people of Panama. For this reason, the building was financed by a charity organization and the building’s design is a tribute. Its colorful structure, for instance, is supposed to be Panama “Rising out of the sea to unite the drifting continents of north and south America” says Dezeen.
21 Federation Square - A Deliberately Jumbled Mess
Like the Biomuseo, this is another building that was deliberately designed in this manner. Located in Melbourne, Australia, it does seem like someone shattered a glass building that’s barely holding together as is with several wires and pipes keeping the remaining pieces intact. However, it’s meant to be symbolic of the city’s culture as several native groups not only occupied the land and made a significant claim to it but also several buildings existed on this very spot before. Some examples include a “City morgue, a fish market, corporate offices and rail yards” according to the Federation Square’s own website.
20 The Square Apartments (VA) - Inconsistent Windows
Not to be confused with the variety of other apartment complexes in other parts of the United States, this one is located in Richmond, Virginia. Labeled as a Luxury Condo, it was under construction at the time this picture was taken which was in 2014 according to WBUR. Though given the way it looks, it seems strange that the left corner of the building would be entirely made of glass while the rest is clearly done in brick. On top of that, the structure of the windows isn’t very consistent with some being individual squares and others done in rows.
19 Oklahoma City Parkway - No Wonder It’s Being Leased
As the title implies, this building is located in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, and it’s apparently called the Parkway Building according to EMPORIS. It’s also available for leasing, as stated on the website of JDMI Properties, though why anyone would want it is anyone’s guess. Sure, it looks spacious yet it is awkward how the left side of the building is jamming into the middle section at a perpendicular angle while the right side is aligned perfectly. It’s like there were two different architects working on this who couldn’t agree with how the sides of the building should be aligned.
18 Plaza Tower - Waste of Time
Located in Louisiana, it used to be the tallest building in the state at the time it was built which was 1969 according to INSH. However, construction actually started five years earlier but due to some financial issues with the owner it was delayed. Then another problem arose in terms of its location, which wasn’t exactly the best in terms of business since it was built with “Offices, penthouse apartments, restaurants, a bank, a health club, heliport and an observation deck” INSH says. It was also not built very well, which is clearly visible in its mismatched lower and upper parts.
17 Packard Well Site - Thought They Could Fool Us
While Los Angeles is known for having some visually interesting buildings, this is certainly one of the blandest ones out there. Yet it has a strange artificial quality to it that makes the whole thing seem fake. Sadly, though, it is fake because it’s actually an oil well disguised as a building. Specifically, “52 oil and gas wells” according to Los Angeles magazine which are owned by a company called Sentinel Peak Resources based in Denver. This isn’t the only oil well-disguised building as there are many others throughout the city which is a growing problem.
16 Evo DeConcini - Not Good Enough
As inconsistent as the windows were on the Square Apartments in Virginia style-wise, they are nothing compared to this building which is actually a courthouse in Tucson, Arizona. Named after the father of a former Arizona senator, according to True Tucson, the Evo DeConcini US Courthouse has been considered by many to be the most inept building. The main reason for this criticism has to do with its architecture, as it contains a mix of styles that don’t exactly match. Supposedly it’s “Inspired by the diversity of the desert” as said by the building’s lead architect, True Tucson says.
15 Whitney Museum - Concrete Nightmare
Depending on how one looks at the irony of the situation, this was the former location of the Whitney Museum in New York City. While it certainly is trying to be artsy in terms of its odd-shaped windows and upside-down staircase look, it’s not exactly the most pleasing to examine visually whether one is artistically inclined or not. Instead of getting torn down, the building got used by the Metropolitan Museum of Art as “Extra exhibition space” according to Gizmodo. So while one art museum decided to abandon it in favor of something better, another took it over.
14 Kunming - Why the Long Face?
Though Kunming, China, is known for having some weird-looking buildings including one that’s shaped like a smartphone (and there are even plans to build a ping pong-shaped hotel), this one is not super weird but still noticeably strange. In particular, there are two elements that come to mind. One is the wedge-shaped base, which seems sturdy enough though the part that’s sticking further out is a bit concerning. Then there’s the top part that’s long and horizontal with a large dip in the glass structure further down that’s been described as looking “Like a ship” on Trover.
13 15 Clerkenwell Close - Looks Deserted
Each year, the UK-based Building Design magazine likes to give awards to certain buildings in Britain that they deem as being too ugly. Known as the Carbuncle Cup, it’s seen in the architecture world as both humorous and controversial. One example of the latter is the building pictured above, which has large glass windows as its main feature. While Building Design nominated it for the Carbuncle Cup this year, Architect’s Newspaper says, it also won the Royal Institute of British Architects Award (or RIBA for short). Yet despite this, the building was ordered to be torn down Dezeen states.
12 Les Espaces D’Abraxas - A Relic from the Past
While the Clerkenwell Close building may be debatable in terms of whether it’s good or bad architecture, there is no doubt about this building which is undoubtedly strange to look at. Like something out of a dystopian science-fiction movie, such as Blade Runner, it was designed in the 1980s by a man named Ricardo Bofill. Known for his Postmodern-style architecture, this particular example in Paris utilizes “Neo-classical elements” according to Untapped Cities in contrast to the “Standardized, anonymous construction in the suburbs”. In other words, it was deliberately made to stand out and it certainly does that.
11 Wiels - A Bit Misshapen
Created as part of an art program called the Visual Arts Network of South Africa (or VANSA), this building serves as a residency for those who wish to participate in it according to VANSA’s own website. Located in Brussels, Belgium, it isn’t the most visually attractive building. With concrete pillars and glass windows stacked underneath a brick-like upper half that has horizontal lines contrasting the rows of vertical windows, the whole thing seems out of place compared to the buildings nearby. Although that was probably the point, it’s not very reflective of its intended purpose in nurturing young artists.