Architecture has always been a puzzle of creativity, problem-solving skills, and practicality. With the modern era, designers and architects have endeavored to bring simplicity in the chaotic world leaving rest up to users’ imagination. But some architects broke new grounds by creating buildings that did not play by the rules. 

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The following are some of the examples of those:

1. Die Welt Steht Kopf, Usedom

A house usually bears the idea of a shelter for one and its belongings. But the Upside-Down House of Trassenheide took this idea and rotated it in 180 degrees. Die Welt Steht Kopf meaning ‘The world Upside Down’ was designed by Polish architects Klaudiusz Gołos and Sebastian Mikiciuk to give the visitors a different perspective on daily objects. Other than the staircase that serves as the ground floor entrance, all interior things are upside down including closets in the toilet. 

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One entering might take a moment to believe that gravity isn’t defying. The whole structure is constructed on a 6% inclination. From the outside, it appears as though the home has fallen to the ground and is resting delicately on its roof. Inside, the extra tilt just adds to the wonder of Trassenheide’s Upside-Down House.

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The Upside House_©Gerd R

2. CCTV Building – Headquarters and Cultural Center, Beijing

To make room for expanding media broadcasters and channels, OMA designed a building with an external continuous tube system. One who studied structural design might understand why the building should resist the huge bending forces that come along with its shape. Two towers rise from a single platform, leaning towards one another until merging into a perpendicular 75-meter cantilever. The concept integrates the entire Television production process into a loop of interconnected activity.

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CCTV Headquarters at night_©Hanson Lu.jpg
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CCTV Headquarters_©Hanson Lu

3. The Ring of Life, Fushun

Proving that size constraints in a building don’t matter, China’s The Ring of Life is a landmark in the northeastern part of the country. It is an enormous loop made of steel entitling The Ring of Life. The distinctive building was constructed only to provide an observation platform. Visitors will be able to reach the top through up to four elevators. With a height of a 50-story building, the ring Is decorated with 12,000 LED lights.

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Ring of Life_©Aaron Sorrell
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Ring of Life_©Duy Phạm Nhật

4. The Long Lines Building, Manhattan

An example of brutalist architecture, 33 Thomas Street is a very unusual building. One of the major rules breaking of this structure is that it is windowless. A concrete mass with extreme uniformity, the building does not serve any functions for humans, but machines. The buildings’ architecture mirrors its function: a substantial, safe structure capable of housing electronic equipment while safeguarding it from every kind of threat. 

Designed by the architect John Carl, a need for the windowless building was to restrict the heat from the sun that would increase the heat emitted by the machines inside the building.

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Brutalism AT&T Long Lines Building, Manhattan, New York _©Ben Howe
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Brutalism AT&T Long Lines Building, Manhattan, New York _©Doctor Casino

5. Stone house, Portugal

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Like the house from Flintstones, Casa do Penedo located in the Fafe region of Portugal, also known as Stone house, is an architectural monument from 1974. The mind-blowing fact about this building is that its foundation, walls, and roof are served by four large boulders. Due to its distinctiveness, the house has no electricity and the only exterior of the house not made of stones are the door and window frame. In the interior, the furniture is made of logs and there is a couch created from a 350 kg eucalyptus tree.

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Stone House_©Feliciano Guimarães
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Stone House_©Feliciano Guimarães

6. Wuxi Wanda Culture and Tourism City Exhibition Center, Wuxi

Making a building its initial form of inspiration is indeed a risk. But Wuxi Wanda cultural tourism city exhibition center is the world’s “largest purple-grit teapot style building”. The ‘Wuxi Wanda cultural city’ exhibition center, which is situated on the Yangtze river’s and Taihu lake’s border in China, was intended to highlight local customs. 

The structure, which is dark-red enamel pottery with a height of 38.8 meters, a diameter of approximately 50 meters, and an area of 5,000 square meters, was hailed by antique teapot expert Wang Jinchuan as “strongly expressing clay teapot culture.”

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Buildings that did not play by the rules - Sheet10Panorama of Wuxi Wanda Culture and Tourism City Exhibition Center_©aasarchitecture

7. The Dancing House, Prague

The Dancing House was the world’s first building to have its plans presented as a 3D digital model rather than merely 2D drawings. Vlado Milunic, a Croatian-born Czech architect, collaborated with Canadian architect Frank Gehry to design the building. The structure is a form of deconstructive architecture, with a distinctive shape like women and men dancing with their hands, and a swaying skirt. 

The house is currently being used as an office space. Visitors can, however, dine at a French restaurant on the roof, which offers a spectacular view of the Vltava River and Prague Castle panorama.

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The Dancing House_©John Jacobson-unsplash
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The Dancing House_©Dusan Veverkolog-unsplash

8. Niteroi Contemporary Art Museum, Rio de Janeiro

Looking like a UFO, Niteroi Contemporary Art Museum stands out from buildings that taper towards the roof by being the opposite. One of the major landmarks of Brazil, the museum was designed by the architect Oscar Niemeyer. MAC-Niteroi reaches a maximum height of 16 meters and has a cupola with a diameter of 50 meters that supports three stories. 

The major hall is hexagonal in design. This main hall has 400 square meters of exhibition space with no columns. The museum exhibits 1217 works by Joao Sattamini, a well-known art collector.

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Niteroi Contemporary Art Museum_©Donatas Dabravolskas

9. National Centre for the Performing Arts, Beijing

The National Centre for the Performing Arts, also called The Giant Egg, is an arts center in Beijing that includes an opera theatre. The NCPA is Asia’s largest theatrical complex, designed by French architect Paul Andreu. The NCPA is enclosed on all sides by a semi-ellipsoidal steel structural shell. 60 percent of the building is underground with abundant groundwater as the height above the ground couldn’t be more than 46 m as per height restrictions. It is Beijing’s most extensive underground public-building project.

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National Centre for the Performing Arts, Beijing_©Max Fan

10. Dubai Frame, Dubai

The Dubai Frame, which was first introduced in 2008, is made of stainless steel with gold designs that shimmer in the desert sun. The tower was designed by Fernando Donis of DONIS Architects. The Dubai Frame was created to enclose rather than add to the city’s preexisting monuments and symbols. A walk-in cross frame connects the two towers on the bottom floor, giving the impression of a photo frame.

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Dubai Frame_©Nick Fewings-unsplash

References

  1. Atlas Obscura. (n.d.). Upside-Down House of Trassenheide. [online] Available at: https://www.atlasobscura.com/places/upside-down-house-of-trassenheide.
  2. ‌ ArchDaily. (2012). CCTV Headquarters / OMA. [online] Available at: https://www.archdaily.com/236175/cctv-headquarters-oma.
  3. ‌ CAROLL, C., GIBBONS, C., HO, G.W.-M., KWOK, M., CROSS, P., DUAN, X., LEE, A., LI, R., LUONG, A., MCGOWAN, R. and POPE, C. (2008). CASE STUDY: CCTV Building – Headquarters and Cultural Center, Beijing. CTBUH RESEARCH PAPER, [online] (ISSUE III). Available at: https://global.ctbuh.org/resources/papers/download/13-case-study-cctv-building-headquarters-cultural-center.pdf
  4. ‌ Valle, C.K. (2012). The Ring of Life: 500-foot steel ring built in Chinese city of Fushun. [online] BelleNews.com. Available at: https://bellenews.com/2012/11/17/world/asia-news/the-ring-of-life-500-foot-steel-ring-built-in-chinese-city-of-fushun/ [Accessed 6 Oct. 2021].
  5. ‌ NYC URBANISM. (n.d.). AT&T LONG LINES BUILDING. [online] Available at: https://www.nycurbanism.com/brutalnyc/att-long-lines-building [Accessed 6 Oct. 2021].
  6. ‌ Ilya (2014). Casa do Penedo – the Stone House. [online] Unusual Places. Available at: https://unusualplaces.org/casa-do-penedo-the-stone-house/ [Accessed 6 Oct. 2021].
  7. Anon, (n.d.). Wuxi Wanda Cultural Tourism City Exhibition Center Opened – aasarchitecture. [online] Available at: https://aasarchitecture.com/2014/05/wuxi-wanda-cultural-tourism-city-exhibition-center-opened.html/ [Accessed 6 Oct. 2021].
  8. ‌ www.prague.net. (n.d.). Dancing House | Prague.net. [online] Available at: http://www.prague.net/dancing-house [Accessed 6 Oct. 2021].
  9. Anon, (2021). Niterói Contemporary Art Museum in Rio de Janeiro. [online] Available at: https://arcounico.com/niteroi-contemporary-art-museum-in-rio-de-janeiro/ [Accessed 6 Oct. 2021].
  10. ‌ Wikipedia. (2020). National Centre for the Performing Arts (China). [online] Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Centre_for_the_Performing_Arts_(China).
  11. ‌ www.designbuild-network.com. (n.d.). Dubai Frame, a monument in Zabeel Park, Dubai United Arab Emirates. [online] Available at: https://www.designbuild-network.com/projects/dubai-frame-dubai
Author

Devika Bhaskaran is an architecture student with absolute love for writing, poetry and travelling. She believes that there are beautiful and mind-blowing untold stories within people and places and she hopes to be a voice for the same. She is in a constant search for architectural wonders that are accessible to all kinds of humans.

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