Most condominiums are predictable: right angles, traditional layouts. There’s usually not much of a surprise. But every now and then an architect is inspired to push the envelope and create a unique—sometimes bizarre—condo. Their influences are equally strange. Inspired by nature, human movement, and video games, here are eight of the world’s most bizarre condo architecture inspirations, many of which occupy international real estate.
1. Jenga: The Beirut Terraces
Architects Herzog & de Meuron may or may not have been influenced by the classic kid’s game, but this Beirut tower certainly resembles a stack of Jenga blocks—with a few pieces removed. The slightly asymmetrical floor plates, heavy use of glass, and overhanging terraces add drama in this energy-efficient condo.
2. Elephant: The Chang Building
This Bangkok landmark stands out in height and design among the traditional Thai homes it surrounds and pays homage to the animal Thais hold most sacred. The elephant stands at 335 feet high and includes a combination of offices, shopping, and luxury condos.
3. Human body: Turning Torso Building
The distinctive twist in the marble-and-cube design of this Malmö, Sweden condo was apparently influenced by the Twisting Torso sculpture, featuring a human form in mid-turn. When the condo was built in 2005, it became the tallest building in Scandinavia.
4. Cactus: Urban Cactus High Rise
This condo’s name resembles its inspiration source more than the building probably does. The Amsterdam building’s 98 prominent terraces swing outward, so each resident has access to sunshine and city views.
5. Honeycomb: Marina City
These two high-rise condos absolutely clash with Chicago’s Gothic and Art Deco styles. The balconies and parking decks on the 65-story building resemble fish gills or honeycomb—neither of which looks very flattering on a condo. Regardless, residents have access to a river-level landing dock and soaring views of downtown Chicago.
6. Dancing: The Dancing House
Designers Frank Gehry and Vlado Milunic built this Prague condo building to capture the motion of a dancing couple. Maybe it’s a bit of a stretch; locals call it the “Drunk House,” which is probably more accurate.
7. Video game: Tetris Apartments
This building’s designers wanted to guarantee you made the connection between their design and their inspiration. The cubes and clean lines of the Tetris Apartments appeal to more than just fans of the 1980s video game the building is modeled after.
8. Rubik’s Cube: Cubic Houses
These Rotterdam creations are actually designed to resemble trees, but we think they look more like Rubik’s Cubes. Architect Piet Blom’s buildings combine both commercial and residential uses, with shops below and homes above.