Facades are the cover to a building, and contrary to the famous quote (Don’t judge a book by its cover), most people tend to judge a building by its outer appearance. It has the purpose of setting an expectation in the mind of the viewer. The first impression is a lasting one and the facade acts as an overview of the character. Over past decades, advancements in technology have led to an increase in some intricate, impossible, and strange structures. Some of them bend the rules of reality, while some come straight out of a fairy tale and are popular attraction spots.

Here are some of the most unusual facades around the world:

1. Bund Finance Centre (Shanghai)

Designed on the Waterfront of Shanghai, this set of buildings mark the point of connection between the old town and the new financial district. Its main cultural center has a veil of 675 individual magnesium alloy pipes (like that in a Chinese bridal headdress), arranged in 3 overlapping layers, each of which moves to create visual effects. This arrangement helps revitalize the waterfront and reflects the scale and characteristics of the waterfront.

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The Bund Finance Centre Shanghai ©Foster+Partners Architects

2. Kansas City Library(Missouri)

Located in downtown Missouri, this library resembles a giant size bookshelf with some of the world’s most popular books (rising to heights of 25 ft). This arrangement hides the parking space for the library and the entire structure folds in the main building to generate a sense of flow. The facade acts as a metaphor to emphasize the importance of knowledge.

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Kansas City Library ©Atlas Obscura

3. Atomium(Brussels)

It was built for the World – Fair (1958) and is a landmark for the city (for the past 60 years). The structure is in the form of an iron crystal, with nine massive spheres connected to others using metal tubes (with escalators). These spheres reflect the light from the surroundings and resemble a structure straight out of a science fiction story.

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Atomium Brussels ©atomium.be

4. The Strong – National Museum of Play(Rochester)

This highly interactive museum is one of the largest collections-based museums in the USA. Its eye-catching facade composed of large blocks of primary and secondary colors gives the building a playful approach. It attracts a diverse audience ranging from adults to children from around the globe, who come to see the vast array of exhibits, collections, research, and other activities inside the museum (dedicated to playing items)

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The Strong – National Museum of Play ©museumofplay.org

5. Montreal Biosphere(Montreal)

Located on Saint Helen’s Island in Montreal, this geodesic dome is home to a museum. It is a prominent structure in the area because of its resemblance to the buckminsterfullerene. This external structure comfortably fits a seven-floored museum/exhibition building and is a center for various exhibitions and conferences.

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Montreal Biosphere ©Stock Images

6. Krzywy Domek(Sopot)

Commonly known as the crooked house, this strange-looking building is a famous tourist attraction in Sopot, Poland. Inspired by the works of Jan Marcin Szancer (a fairytale artist), it displays a facade that appears wrapped from both edges. Its style is unique for twisted buildings and seems structurally impossible (which adds to its appreciation)

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Krzywy Domek ©Reddit

7. Capital Gate (Dubai)

This elegant building in Dubai is the furthest leaning tower (Guinness Book of World records). It has a total of 35 floors (160m tall), with a glass roofing and enormous windows increasing the input of natural light into the building. Its structure represents a tower blown by the wind and is held back by a piece of cloth.

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Capital Gate Dubai ©Stock Photos

8. City of Arts and Sciences(Valencia)

This structure is a cultural complex and a modern tourist spot in the city of Valencia and is one of the 12 Treasures of Spain. Its two principal buildings (L’Hemisfèric and Science Museum Principe Felipe) are organized around a raised area (at the base of the Palacio) to maximize sea view. The L’Hemisfèric (planetarium) is particularly famous for its peculiar – half-opened eye-shaped construction.

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City of Arts and Sciences Valencia ©vistapointe.net

9. Le Palais idéal (Hauterives)

This strange piece of art was created by a regular mailman – Ferdinand Cheval, over a span of 33 years. The materials used in its construction consisted of stones, pebbles, tufas, and fossils (of no fixed shape and size), joined together using lime and other materials. Each element was constructed by hand and does not follow any specific architectural style, as it was built entirely on the visual choices of one person.

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Le Palais idéal ©Artsy Images

10. Mode Gakuen Cocoon Tower (Tokyo)

It is a 50 storeyed educational tower, which has a structure similar to that of a cocoon. The tower consists of 3 educational institutions all wrapped up inside a crisscrossed web of white diagonal lines over a curved shell of dark blue glass and aluminum. This idea was to create the concept of a cocoon for children to nurture and grow. It is among some of the most – unique educational institutes and also among the tallest buildings around the globe.

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Mode Gakuen Cocoon Tower Tokyo ©Chris Smith
Abhradeep Chakraborty
Author

Currently pursuing bachelor's in urban planning, with a keen interest in art and design. His works have a sense of fantasy and practicality and he is obsessed with the word ‘Why.’ He enjoys learning complicated concepts and finds their application in life.

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