The World's Most Unique Buildings


The world is an architecture gallery. Unique buildings are everywhere, scattered in every continent. Many of them become iconic and make their way in your ‘must-see’ and ‘must-take- photo’ bucket list. Here are some of the unique buildings around the world you would not want to miss when you are travelling.

1. Flatiron Building, New York

Despite the many iconic structures in New York, most visitors make time to see this century old iron-shaped building. Consisted of 20 storeys upon completion in 1902, it was the tallest building in the city, designed by Daniel Burnham and Frederick Dinkelberg. The Flatiron now has 22 storey.

The thin shape gained the building some critiques in the beginning, which stated that it created a dangerous wind-tunnel at the intersection and could knock itself down. The fact is, the structure was designed to accommodate four times the typical load.

Interior-wise, even though it’s a challenge to configure office spaces in the odd-shaped rooms, the charm grew on the tenants. Later on, who wouldn’t proudly say their office address when it’s the legendary Flatiron Building at 175 Fifth Avenue, Manhattan?

2. CCTV Headquarters, Beijing

Beijing’s iconic CCTV Headquarters is a skyscraper that’s about connectivity rather than the usual competition of heights. The big loop, which belongs to China Central Television, represents the entire process of TV-making: a series of interconnected activities. Located in the central business district, it connects with the surrounds as it is a part of a media park intended for a public entertainment and outdoor filming areas.

Designed by OMA, a Rotterdam-based architecture firm, the shape of the building is unique and gives room for imagination to beholders. The local people nicknamed it “the big pants” as you might see where it came from.

3. Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa, Capetown

Sitting on the edge of Cape Town harbour is the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (Zeitz MOCAA). It occupies the once a grain silo complex, which dense structure of tubes have been carved out for the atrium and galleries to give functionality for showing art. The bulging windows on the façade functions like
mirror balls, reflecting the Table Mountain on one side and Robben Island on the other.

The museum opened for public since 22 September 2017, and aside to gallery it is consisted of a rooftop sculpture garden, a bookshop, a restaurant and bar, and reading rooms. Designed by London’s Heatherwick Studio, it is a one-stop cultural and architectural wonder worth of a visit.
Photo by: Esther Westerfeld

4. Sagrada Familia, Barcelona

Sagrada Familia is not only unique in shape, but also in the building process. Antoni Gaudi, the Architect Director of the project appointed since 1884, combined Gothic and curvilinear Art Nouveau forms into the building plan. He dedicated the last few decades of his life to the building of the church.

Some parts of the church were destroyed during the war in the 1930s, but that didn’t stop the project. It’s anticipated to be completed by 2026, the centenary of Gaudi’s death.

With a grand design and meticulous details almost in each and every corner, it’s no wonder that the building is still a work in progress.

5. Sydney Opera House, Sydney

Dubbed as “the building that changed the image of the country”, Sydney Opera House is one of the most popular visitor attractions in Australia. It was designed by a Danish architect, Jørn Utzon, and opened for public in 1973 after 15 years of building.

Utzon wanted the shell-shaped roof to contrast with the blue sea and sky surrounding the Bannelong Point, Sydney Harbour where it’s located. After a long search, he found the right tiles for the shells in Japan. As for the name of the building, although it suggests as a single venue, the opera house actually comprises multiple performance venues.

6. The Dancing House, Prague

Fred and Ginger is the nickname of the building, after the renowned dancers Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. The Dancing House was originally built as an office building, but now a part of it functions as a hotel and restaurants, which give access to public who wonders what it is like to be inside this unique building.

It was designed by a Croatian-Czech architect Vlado Milunić in collaboration with a Canadian-American architect Frank Gehry, and the project completed in 1996. The deconstructivist or “new-baroque” style created a controversy at first because it was non-traditional and standing out amongst the Baroque, Gothic and Art Nouveau buildings. Now, it is one of the most popular visitor attractions in Prague.

7. Istiqlal Mosque, Jakarta

Istiqlal Mosque is one of the most important buildings in Jakarta, not only for the fact that it was built to commemorate Indonesia’s independence, but also because it symbolizes the harmony between religions. It was designed by a Christian self-taught architect Frederich Silaban, and is located right across the Jakarta Cathedral in Central Jakarta.

Built in the international style of architecture, which emerged in western Europe, the design of the mosque was largely influenced by the tropical climate of Indonesia. It’s well-ventilated as there is no solid wall, which allows the air breezing in. Although international travellers often skip Jakarta and head straight to Bali, Istiqlal Mosque is frequently visited by those who choose to transit in the capital.

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Vira Tanka
Having her bachelor degree from Visual Communication Design of Bandung Institute of Technology, she explored her other interest in writing by being a writer for TV programs and travel magazines. Always keeping her love for the art, she actively sketches just about everything, from urban landscape to nature, in between writing projects.

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