While most houses are typical in form, there are always those that stand out and turn heads.
There are countless examples of unusual residential architecture, the following five offer particularly notable features, from a house built upside down to another inspired by the Flintstones' cartoon home.
1. The Upside-Down House – Poland
The concept for the Upside Down House was created by Polish businessman Daniel Czapiewski. In addition to serving as a tourist attraction, the house was designed to serve as a profound statement about the Communist era and the state of the world.
It appears to be a normal home, but for one obvious difference – it was built so as to appear completely upside-down.
The construction of the house, which would normally take three weeks, took 114 days because the workers were disoriented by the strange angles of the walls. Not only did the building of the house take longer, it was also a considerably more expensive than a traditional house of its size.
The main entrance is through a roof window. Once inside, visitors walk around on the ceilings. The house looks like a traditional timber frame house, but it has several changes built into the structure to reinforce it. Both the interior and exterior walls are made of wood and the foundation required 200 cubic metres of concrete.
2. The Transparent House – Japan
Located in Tokyo, Japan, the Transparent House was built by Sou Fujimoto Architects on an 85 square metre site. Inspired by treehouses, the Japanese Architect built a house that boasts large glass windows for plenty of light to come in.
The interior consists of 21 individual floor plates ranging in size from 21 to 81 square feet, all situated at different heights as a result of the clients’ desire to live as nomads within their own home. Each floor plate is connected to the next by stairs and ladders or by movable steps.
The white steel frame structure serves several functions such as allowing for circulation, while the layout offers plenty of seating and working spaces. While the flooring is thin white-tinted birch, some floor plates are equipped with in-floor heating.
The HVAC and plumbing equipment, as well as storage and lateral bracing, are located in a thick, north-facing wall at the rear of the house. In addition, a full-height bookshelf and lightweight concrete panels were designed to add strength to the structure.
3. The Skateboard House – United States
This ultimate dream home for teens was commissioned by professional skateboarder Pierre Andre Senizergues to be built in Malibu, California. It is the first house designed to be used for skateboarding as well as serving as a traditional dwelling.
The house is essentially a skate park turned into a home. The idea is that Senizergues can skate from the outside to the inside and through the three sections of the house. One area in the home includes the living room, dining area and kitchen, a second includes a bedroom and bathroom and a third has a skateboard practice area.
Each space was designed to be skateable as curved flooring turns into walls and ceilings. The continuous surface forms a tube with a 10-foot radius. The furniture is also skateable or skateboard-themed, from sitting areas integrated into the curved walls or standing objects like the dining table, the kitchen island or the bed.
Almost every surface in the 204 square metre house is curved. A prototype in the form of a full-scale 70 square metre model made of bent plywood has already been built and was exhibited in Paris during the La Gaîté lyrique festival.
4. The “Live Between Buildings” Project
Live Between Buildings is a project designed by Danish architects Mateusz Mastalski and Ole Robin Storjohann that proposes narrow residential units that could fit in the remaining space between existing buildings.
Only 1.52 metres wide, these homes can be built in different shapes - an X, an O, a Y, a cloud or a speech bubble, for example - to adapt to the cultural context and existing buildings in highly-populated cities such as Amsterdam, London, Berlin, Oslo, New York or Tokyo.
Designed as part of an architecture competition launched by Fakro Windows, the project consists almost entirely of Fakro window technology. Three levels are connected by stairs and ladders leaning on the structure of the existing buildings.
The windows are energy-efficient, providing passive heating in winter by reducing heat loss while keeping the house cool in summer.
5. The Flintstones inspired House – United States
Television legend Dick Clark owns this one-of-a-kind residence in Malibu, which is at the moment on sale for $3.5 million. The single-story structure, with its rocky interior, looks just like the one in the classic cartoon for which it is named.
The house sits on a lot more than 22 acres in size and features one bedroom and two bathrooms, a living/dining area with a fireplace and several large glass windows offering views of city lights and sunsets as well as of the Serrano Valley, the Boney Mountains, the Channel Islands and the Pacific Ocean.
The architect, Phillip Jon Brown, said the unusual prehistoric design was dictated by circumstance. The site is next to the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreational Area and there was initially opposition to Clark building a home on the property.
"[Clark] dug in his heels and said he was going to build a house there. I came up with the idea that if the house looked like a rock formation, the park conservancy would let us build on top. They liked the concept," said Brown.
From the outside, the house looks like a massive stone structure, but it is actually built using light materials combined with concrete. Inside the house, the walls are made of wood and the ceilings consist of steel beams covered with concrete. In addition, the interior design of the house is defined by irregular shapes and stone colours.