Most of us live in basic housing—apartment buildings or detached houses, which is fine, our houses serve the purpose of providing a roof over our heads, and we can personalise the interior or our gardens. We can make even the most standard house look unique with a few decorations and some creativity. Normal homes are featured by celebrity architects and interior designers all the time, and there are countless magazines and television programs dedicated to interesting homes.
Some people take their houses to the next level by completely rethinking the way the house is built. Creating one of a kind homes has become a trend recently, with niches like eco-houses to tiny houses to tree houses. Some of them attract visitors from all over the world, and you can often book tours and even rent out nights.
You’ll find the interesting exteriors of some are used for practical reasons, like absorbing heat from the sun, while others are just livable artistic expressions. Either way, these houses are some of the world’s most spectacular examples of contemporary architecture, and you can seek out the ones on this list, or search for unique houses near you—the world is full of crafty carpenters!
25 Futuro House- Nope, It's Not A UFO
Finnish architect Matti Suuronen was the creator of a series of UFO-like houses in the 1960s and 1970s. Less than 100 were made, and fewer remain, in his Futuro series. An early type of recreational vehicle, Futuro homes were meant to move around the globe freely, much like UFOs, and adapt to any climate you brought it to.
Retro on the outside and inside, they were a product of the world’s obsession with the future and space, and would have been conceived as the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. competed in the Space Race. Some people still own Futuros today, though most discovered that they weren’t a practical residence.
24 Upside-Down House- Which Way Does The Water Fall?
Upside-down houses intrigue people in all corners of the world. They have recently become a popular choice for attracting tourism, with pop-up upside-down houses and rooms appearing all over the world.
This complete house in Trassenheide, Germany has been delighting tourists since 2008. The purpose of the house is to offer visitors an alternative perspective on everyday objects, and while the house is pretty average, everything is flipped upside-down. You’ll have fun messing about on the ceiling, but the pictures you see afterwards might give you a bit of vertigo.
23 Keret House- The World's Thinnest House
Walking past this house in Warsaw, Poland, you might not even notice it. The world’s narrowest house’s widest point is 122 centimetres and is wedged in between two larger buildings. The house is both art and architecture.
It started as the brainchild of Polish architect Jakub Sczcesny, who thought of bridging the gap between two periods of Polish history, represented by the two surrounding buildings, with a contemporary new building. The house is fully functional, outfitted with a kitchen, bathroom, and bedroom, and can be lived in full-time, provided one does not have claustrophobia.
22 Toilet House- An Important Message Was The Inspiration For This Unique House
How would you like to live in a giant, toilet-shaped house? Sim Jae-Duck, mayor of Suwon, South Korea, has had a lifetime obsession with toilets. He founded the World Toilet Association in order to bring awareness to bathroom sanitation, and proved his dedication by commissioning a new house shaped like an enormous toilet.
It was exactly what he wanted, and he lived there from 2007 until his time ran out. Now, it has been converted into a museum dedicated to the importance of bathrooms and proper cleanliness, and visitors can learn about everything they didn’t know they should know about bathroom culture in Korea.
21 Drina River House- You Don't Have To Worry About Neighbours Here
Just outside the small town of Bajina Basta, Serbia, a small cabin sits, perched atop a large rock on a shallow part of the Drina river. Believe it or not, the house has stood since 1969 and hasn’t been washed away by the tide.
The owner chose the spot to build as a young adult who realised it was prime real estate for swimming, and the rock was beckoning to him. A group of teenagers helped build the cabin by transporting materials by boat, which is still the only way to reach the island.
20 Dumpster House- Just Make Sure It's Scrubbed Out Well
Converted dumpsters have been popping up all over the U.S., as pools, sheds, and lately, houses. Hutson-Tillotson University in Texas is conducting a study titled “The Dumpster Project,” on living in just about anything, taking a tiny, metal box and making it a bright, livable space.
They’ve converted a dumpster on their East Austin campus, a challenging project given the dimensions of what is essentially a steel shoebox. The ongoing project has thus far proven that it is possible to live at least short term in small housing, and that we can adapt to changing living circumstances.
19 Domes For The World- A Makeshift Village Post-Earthquake
In Yogyakarta, Indonesia, there’s a village of stark white domes that seem kind of science fiction-y. But these little huts were a lifesaver for some villagers who lost their homes to an earthquake in 2006.
The Domes for the World Foundation stepped in and rebuilt homes for families who’d lost them, and this time, they were designed to withstand earthquake tremors, hurricanes, fire, and bugs. They’re built with local, sustainably sourced materials that require little skill to collect and construct and have very few costs for upkeep, perfect for rebuilding the community.
18 Skateboard House- Every Space Is Designed For Skate Tricks
A teenage boy’s dream home, this rounded house turns every surface into a skateboarding ramp. Built by skateboarders for skateboarders, the designer behind this Malibu home is Pierre Andre Senizergues, a pro skater.
The house is made to be a massive skate park, indoor and outdoor, yet functions like a traditional house with a bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, and separate skating area. The walls are rounded so that skaters can use the full 360 degrees of the house (yes, even the ceiling). Even the appliances and furniture are made to be skateable.
17 House Na- Good Luck Getting Any Privacy
Tokyo is full of unique, futuristic, experimental buildings and House Na is no exception. It’s nothing too extravagant except that it’s made entirely of glass. Like other glass houses, aside from some steel structural supports, the walls are completely see-through.
Designed to diverge from the usual concrete buildings of the city, House Na flows like a treehouse, intended for communal purposes without sacrificing privacy. The house separates rooms by floors rather than doors, with multiple layers of rooms. As for outsiders looking in, you might want to invest in some heavy curtains.
16 Le Palais Bulles- Literally, "Bubble Palace"
This is not a waterpark ride, despite how cool it would look to attach a winding waterslide to the house’s “bubbles.” Le Palais Bulles (The Bubble Palace) was built in the 1980s near Cannes, France by ambitious Hungarian architect Antti Lovag, a quirky addition to the shoreline of the French Riviera.
With plush round rooms and a retro vibe, the mansion looks like a hangout of Austin Powers. The exterior of the palace is outfitted with a 500-seat amphitheatre, pool, and extensively landscaped gardens, complete with waterfalls. The house is currently owned, fittingly, by French fashion designer Pierre Cardin.
15 Dr. Seuss House- A Storybook Home In The Alaskan Wilderness
How this house remains standing is a mystery, but at 17 storeys, the Dr. Seuss house is a precarious construction. Nicknamed after the famed children’s author, the house towers above the forest in Talkeetna, Alaska. The whimsical house is officially known as the Goose Creek Tower by its architect, Phillip Weidner.
Weidner designed the home himself as an engineer, and though it looks like it might topple with a strong gust of wind, the home stays standing. Although the interior is partially unfinished, its design is geared toward a normal log cabin, refraining from resembling anything fantastical.
14 The Steel House- Like A Sculpture You Can Live In
Most suburban houses look relatively plain, but one near Lubbock, Texas, looks like a lot of things—a house is not one of them. The raised home stands on four legs overlooking Lake Ransom Canyon, an oddly fitting location for the reddened steel home.
Its designer Robert Bruno singlehandedly constructed his home out of 150 tonnes of steel over a course of 35 years. Bruno, a sculptor by trade, improvised most of his work, letting the piece tell him how it wanted to be built. After his passing, the project was abandoned, though you can still take tours through the house.
13 Shark Attack House- Eccentric, If Nothing Else
In a quiet neighbourhood in Oxford, England, a row of red brick houses draws the attention of artists, architects, and other curious passersby. Perched tail-up atop one of the houses is a 25-foot figure of a shark, its head buried in the roof.
Known as The Headington Shark, or the Shark Attack House, the sculpture first appeared in 1986 as a protest against current affairs. It was controversial for a long time, with attempts by the city council to get it removed, but after it was ruled to be harmless, the shark has been a celebrated part of Headington culture.
12 Solar Dome House- A Temperature Regulating Dome Within The Arctic Circle
Dome-shaped dwellings are gaining momentum lately, but in the harsh climate of the Arctic Circle, you might not think a glass bubble is the most practical option. You’d be wrong, because this dome on northern Norway’s Sandhornøya Island takes full advantage of the area’s resources.
The house, which took two years to build from conception to finish, is completely solar powered, and the surrounding geodesic dome works like a greenhouse to support the indoor garden, making the growing season much longer than it would be naturally. And the glass roof isn’t a bad place to watch the Northern Lights.
11 Mirror House- It's Pretty Well Camouflaged
In the Dutch town of Almere, there has been a series of experimental housing projects, the most recent called De Eenvoud, or “Simplicity.” The project was intended to build a structure that blends in with its surroundings, resulting in the Mirror House. Architects Johan Selbing and Anouk Vogel created a box-shaped house covered in reflective panels, much like a one-way mirror.
The outside may be rather unremarkable, but the interior is laid out on an open plan that makes the house appear larger than it is. The long, floor-to-ceiling windows that let in natural light and the light colours of the interior also add to the illusion of a bigger, more luxurious house.
10 Casa De Pedra- Brazil's Accidental Gaudi
Casa de Pedra is a small house in the Paraisópolisfavela of São Paulo, Brazil and is the result of painstaking work by Estevão Silva da Conceição. The home, covered top to bottom in mismatched mosaics, took 30 years to construct, and it’s still not done yet.
Walking through its corridors is like seeing a mini Barcelona, as the tiles look like some long-lost art of Antoni Gaudí, who designed some of Barcelona’s most famous landmarks. The owner of the house, a modest labourer, had never heard of Gaudí before beginning his house, but acknowledges its striking similarities.
9 Cat Paradise- A House For Cat Ladies
This California home is a cat lady’s dream, you might be surprised to find out that it was the work of a man. Peter Cohen has worked on his cat playground home since the 1990s, to give the best life to his many rescue cats.
The house is a brightly coloured collage of zig-zagging ramps, tunnels, and perches, all dedicated to Cohen’s love of cats. He’s spent thousands on designing the perfect kitty paradise, but the colours and geometric-looking art (coupled with so many adorable cats) is as charming as it is functional.
8 Gue(Ho)st- A House Made Of... Marshmallow?
Gue(Ho)st in Delme, France has an interesting moniker, and it may take a while to untangle the wordplay that inspired the name. The house’s architects based it on a phrase by Marcel Duchamp, “A GUEST + A HOST = A GHOST.” Perhaps, then, the lumpy white goo covering the side of the house is not intended to be marshmallow or shaving cream, but a ghostly material.
Polystyrene cubes were affixed to the house and covered with resin and paint to give it its unique shape. The house is now a visitor’s centre for the area arts community.
7 Flintstone House- Turns Out The Flintstones' House Isn't Even In Bedrock
The Flintstones family has entertained children since 1960, and when the first generation of Flintstones kids grew up, they took their love for the Stone Age cartoon family with them.
The house, located in California, was designed by architect William Nicholson in 1976 as an experiment to test out alternative building materials. One important feature of the home is that every surface on the inside is rounded—even the staircase is spiraled. It eventually fell into disrepair, though it was restored and sold again in the 2000s.
If you drive along Interstate 280, you can see the house as you cross the Doran Memorial Bridge.
6 The Heliodome- The Living Sundial That Tracks Solar Movements
The Heliodome in southern France isn’t a giant satellite dish, but a carefully designed home that matches the movements of the sun to power the home. It works like a sundial, creating shade when it’s hot and exposing the windows to the sun in order to capture heat if it’s cold.
Cabinet builder Eric Wasser designed the home himself to live consciously. By tracking the sun’s movements, the Heliodome requires little to no artificial heating or cooling and allows the homeowner to live eco-friendly without sacrificing style, or living in the beautiful French countryside.
5 Langtry House- An Underground Home Known As An "Iceberg"
London's Langtry House has a hidden secret—the house, which stands at a stumpy eight feet above ground, is known as a type of house called an iceberg, where most of the home is underground. Langtry House, at three beds and three baths, is one of the most luxurious, complete with private cinema and wine cellar.
The house is located in the posh Hampstead Heath neighbourhood, on a site that used to house garages. The city gave permission to build a home on the site, but it wasn’t allowed to be taller than the previous garages, so architects built downwards, resulting in one of London’s most unique new homes.
4 Movable Eco-House- This House Can Shift In All Directions
Bohumil Lhota, in his 70s, has a lifetime’s worth of experience building houses, but nothing like the futuristic home he’s built for himself. The Czech builder began working on his house in the 1980s and completed it in 2002, which can rotate and stand up, depending on which view or how much sun he wants.
Lhota built his house partially underground to take advantage of stable ground temperature (keeping it energy efficient), but can be raised by hand to peek over the synthetic hill it’s built on, looking out over the Krkonose mountains.
3 The Seashell House- You Can Rent This Whimsical Home
Mexico's beach towns are no stranger to whimsical buildings, but the Shell House in Casa Caracol, Isla Mujeres, is one of the most charming. Two shell shapes make up one white house, a cool contrast to the azure sky.
The perfect vacation home, the house has two king size bedrooms and two bathrooms, plus your own pool surrounded by coconut trees. You can rent the house through AirBnB at about $300 a night, but with this kind of privacy overlooking the Caribbean, you might not need to spend much else.
2 The Egg House- Disillusioned With Rent? Live In A Pod
If you’re familiar with the astronomical rent prices in Beijing, you might decide to like in a bamboo pod on the street, too. 24-year-old Chinese architect, Dai Haifei, couldn’t afford to live in the city, where he works and designs houses, so for less than $1,000 he built an egg-shaped pod home.
The egg is constructed of a bamboo frame, insulated with wood, and then a seed padding on the outside. It’s powered by a solar panel, not that there’s much energy needed. It does house a bed, a nightstand, and a water tank, suitable enough for the architect who works late nights.
1 China House- The House Made Of Porcelain
One way to ensure your grandmother’s china doesn’t break is to build a house out of it. Cement it into the walls and use it as the foundation as well as the decoration. That’s how the Chinese porcelain house was created, and is now a French-style house made entirely out of porcelain pieces.
The house, intended to spread awareness about porcelain culture, is made from more than 700 million pieces of china, many of which are antique or ancient Chinese artefacts. You can find it in Tianjin, China, and it’s open to the public for tours.
References: AtlasObscura, ArchDaily, architectureartdesign.com