Unusual Homes From Around the World that Don’t Look Real

Shannon Quinn - April 12, 2022
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If you love looking at articles online about home design, you’ve probably seen thousands of conventional homes. But there are some truly strange homes out there that will shock and amaze you. Here are some of the weirdest places to live from around the world.

Hundreds of people lived in these cave homes at one point. Credit: Natural Homes

40. The Caves of Guyaju, China

Our first look into the world of unusual homes are the Caves of Guyaju, in China. The word “Guyaju” means “ancient cliff dwelling” These are located around 90 km from Beijing, China. During the Tang Dynasty 618-907 AD, the Ziyi people called these caves home. There are over 100 cave homes carved into the hill, so it was a very active community. Some of these homes had stylish stone pillars inside, and they would have had a timber frame and thatch roof covering the cave entrance. There were two main village clusters, and both of them were supplied with fresh water from a natural spring. Some of these houses were even heated with a central heating system called “kang”, which was used in both China and Korea as far back as 5,000 BC.

A beautiful glass house that isn’t exactly functional. Credit: The Modern Met

39. Tokyo’s Modern Transparent House

The next house on the list is a transparent home in Tokyo, Japan. It is known as “House Na”, and it was designed by Sou Fujimoto Architects. The idea was to create a home that was very similar to a treehouse, only for adults. So the staircases provide a lot of space for people to hang out with one another. There are three levels to this house, and it gets plenty of natural sunlight during the daytime. The only glaring issue here is that there is a major lack of privacy. Who would want to live in a glass house?

The giant seashell house is a work of art. Credit: Random Whispers

38. Giant Seashell House

The Nautilus House, AKA the Giant Seashell House was designed by Javier Senosiain of Arquitectura Organica. It was built in Mexico City in 2006. The house was designers for a young family with two kids who were tired of living in a traditional home. They wanted to live in a building that felt more integrated into nature. The inside of the house itself looks like a futuristic movie set. The living room has a circular couch that is built into the wall, and the bathroom is covered with colorful mosaic tiles. Every room you enter is going deeper and deeper into the center of the shell.

Credit: The Little Things

37. The Upside-Down House of Trassenheide

The Upside-Down House of Trassenheide was built in 2008 by Polish architects Klaudiusz Golos and Sebastian Mikiciuk. It’s located in a German seaside resort called Trassenheide on the island of Usedom. The house was part of a project called “The World Upside Down”, which was an art project made to give people a new perspective on everyday life. As you can imagine, the entire house is upside-down, including the furniture. So when you walk around inside, you’re on the ceiling. The house is used as a tourist attraction, so if you’re in the area, don’t forget to visit! 

This house was turned into a toilet museum after the owner passed away. Credit: Livabl

36. The Toilet Shaped House

Out of all the things you could build a house to look like, a toilet is probably the last thing on your mind. But that’s exactly what South Korean builder and architect Sim Jae-duck and Go Gi-woong did. They built a toilet-shaped home called “Haewoojae”. The name means “a place of sanctuary where one can solve one’s worries”. As in- a toilet. It was built in honor of the creation of the World Toilet Association, which was founded by Sim Jae-duck who was the mayor of the city of Suwon. After he passed away, the house was donated to the city and turned into a toilet museum now called the Mr. Toilet House. So, if you ever happen to be in Suwon, South Korea, you can stop by for a visit.

The Heliodome is designed to maximize the power of the sun. Credit: Atlas Obscura

35. The Heliodome

The Heliodome was made by a famous French cabinet and furniture maker named Eric Wasser. He wanted to use the sun for a more environmentally conscious lifestyle. This eco-house is fixed on an angle that provides shade in the summertime and helps to keep it cool. But during the winter time, the sun warms the interior to a cozy temperature. However, there were mixed reviews on his building. Some people thought it looked far too futuristic, and would prefer to keep the cottages you typically see in the French countryside. Others see it as a triumph in design, and we may be seeing more houses like this in the future.

Credit: Designing Buildings

34. The Haines Shoe House

In 1948, a successful shoe salesman named Mahlon Haines commissioned an architect to make a house that looked like one of his work boots. The home was built in Hellam Township, Pennsylvania in the United States, and it still stands today as a roadside attraction. Over the course of a year, the building was created with a stucco-covered timber frame. When it was completed, part of the house was used as an ice cream shop. At first, Haines lived in the house, but eventually moved out and turned it completely into a tourist attraction for people to stay in it as a hotel and eat ice cream. After Haines passed away, the house was repaired in a “save a Landmark” campaign. You can still visit The Haines Shoe House today and go on a tour if you like.

The S-House in Japan was an experiment in architecture and philosophy. Credit: Architect Magazine

33. The S-House

The “S-House” was designed by a Japanese architect from Tokyo named Yuusuke Karasawa. Located in Omiya, Saitama Prefecture, the house sits in a space that brings together space and nature. The client is a professor, and he wanted a house that represented the philosophy of humans and nature. In the end, the result was a split-level 1,117 square foot house. Karasawaa called it a “complicated network space. Walls, ceilings, and floors are intricately entwined together.” There are so many glass window panes in this house, that privacy would be a huge concern. However, they created polyester privacy curtains for the owner. When the client moved in, he said that he felt like the mission was successful, and that he felt comfortable living in his philosophical experiment.

This mobile home once sat on the streets of Beijing, China. Credit: Metalocus

32. The Egg House

A 24-year old man named Dai Haifei from a rural area of southern China wanted to create a mobile home as a graduation project. After asking for loans from family and friends, he gathered 6,500 yuan ($1,022 US dollars) to start his project. The Egg House was designed on a platform with wheels so that the small structure could be moved from place to place. Dai Haifei lived in the egg since the summertime, and spent months living there despite the cold. Once the story became public, it caused a stir in the media. The government didn’t like this mobile home, because they feared that if people followed his lead, they would start building similar homes and living on the streets of Beijing. According to a reporter who knows Dai Haifei, they had to hide the house in an abandoned factory to stop it from being destroyed. 

Bill Heine, the owner of the home with the Headington Shark. Credit: Oxford Mail

31. The Headington Shark

Homeowner Bill Heine commissioned an artist named John Buckley to create a shark crashing into the roof of his home in the village of Headington in Oxford, England. The shark was originally installed in 1986 on the anniversary of the atomic bomb being dropped on Nagasaki, Japan. It was a social commentary on the fear that people around the world feel about bombs dropping on their home. At first, the town protested the sculpture, and wanted it to be removed. But eventually, in 2022, it was dubbed as a special heritage site.  

These beehive homes are located in Syria. Credit: Happy Frog Travels

30. Beehive Houses

For thousands of years, people have been living in conical dwellings. These specific beehive homes that you see in the photo above are located in Syria, and they’re still lived in today. Beehive houses are a conical dwelling with a high dome. They’re made with adobe with a layer of mud and straw on both the interior and exterior walls. The houses are designed to help shield from direct sunlight, so they stay cool in the summer. But they’re also warm in the winter. There are many beehive villages, and all of them have a different design in their roads and layout of their tiny towns. If you want to know more, a blogger called Happy Frog Travels goes into great detail about his visit to Syria to see the beehive houses.

The Exbury Egg was popular because it was off-the-grid living on the water. Credit: New Atlas

29. Exbury Egg

Many of you will have heard of boat homes, but none of them look quite like The Exbury Egg. It’s an off-the-grid home installed on the Beaulieu River, UK. The original concept was made by an artist named Stephen Turner, and it was created with the SPUD design studio as well as Perring Architecture and Design.  There is no running water or electricity on board, so Turner uses a hose nearby to drink from, and he uses small solar panels to keep his phone, lights, and laptop charged. Since this was more of an art installation rather than a permanent home, Stephen Turner only occasionally lived in it, and allowed other art students to tour the space. It remained on the shore for one year before it was removed.

They call this the “Crazy House” because of its unique tree design. Credit: Amazing Architecture

28. The Crazy House

The “Crazy House” guest house in Đà Lạt, Vietnam is something straight out of a fairytale. This home was originally designed and constructed by an architect named Đặng Việt Nga. The building looks like a giant tree, which incorporates design elements like animals, mushrooms, spiders, and caves. There is even a section of the house that looks like it’s under the ocean, and it has 3D paintings of sea creatures. If you want to visit this house, you’re in luck, because they rent out some of the rooms as a hotel.

This house is entirely hidden inside of a mountain side. Credit: Uniq Hotels

27. Villa Vals

Is this a Hobbit House? Not quite. It’s a villa carved into the mountainside near a Swiss village called Vals. (Hence the name Villa Vals). This house can accommodate up to ten guests, and it’s within walking distance of famous natural hot springs. The house is also perfect for the winter time, because it’s near a ski resort. Everything is underground, and the only way to access it is through a nearby barn. The window that faces the outside world gets a great view of the mountains. Overall, it’s unique, picturesque, and definitely a great spot to consider for your next vacation.

This car house belongs on the top of the list of unusual homes. Credit: Most Unusual Really

26. Car Shaped House

Many of you out there will have seen car-shaped beds in children’s bedrooms. But imagine taking this concept and going all the way to creating an entire house that is shaped like a car. This car-shaped house was built in 2004 by an architect named Manfred Voglreiter. It’s located in the town of Langwied, Austria, and is home to a family of four. Not much else is known about this house. However, since it’s a private residence, we will respect the privacy of the homeowners.

The Smith Mansion in Wyoming. Credit: New York Times

25. The Smith Mansion

Built by an engineer named Francis Lee Smith, this 5-story house inspired dozens of local legends. Originally, the Smith Mansion was meant to be a family home. But he spent 12 years adding more and more to the home. He upcycled scrap wood and leftover materials from the town. Even though the house was huge, there were no dedicated bedrooms. Eventually, he fell to his death when building one of the balconies. Now, the house is abandoned, and it’s falling to ruin. Smith’s daughter wants to raise money to turn this house into a museum, but so far, it hasn’t happened yet.

This house on a cliff has an unusual design. Credit: Arch Daily

24. The House on the Cliff

This house was built on a cliff by a young couple who hired an architect to help them create a one-of-a-kind home. It overlooks the Mediterranean Sea. From one angle, the roof looks like the scales of a dragon when looking up. But when seen from above, it looks like ocean waves. Since the house was built into the side of the cliff, it maintains a constant temperature of 19.5 degrees Celsius (or about 67 degrees Fahrenheit) all year long. So they’re saving money on heating and cooling, and proving that they can be at one with nature with this type of design.

This small structure transforms its space to suit your needs. Credit: In Habitat

23. The Transformer House

Have you ever imagined being able to transform the shape of your house? A designer named Michael Jantzen created a structure called the M-Velope, which is a 230 square foot space that can be moved into different positions by moving the wooden panels and a steel frame. The interior has benches and sleeping platforms, so there are spaces to actually live inside, despite the look of being more like a gazebo. In 2008, the M-Velope went in the Neiman Marcus Christmas book for $100,000 each. There were only 6 in stock, but we can imagine that no one actually bought one of these for the holidays. 

The Croft House was one of many homes that is one with the surrounding environment. Credit: Architecture AU

22. The Croft House

This next house blends in so well with the surrounding nature that you just might miss it when you drive by. The Croft House was designed by an architect named James Stockwell. When the house was originally commissioned, he studied the surrounding landscape to make sure it blended in as much as humanly possible. The end result is something that slightly resembles a spaceship. But when you see the photos of the inside, it’s actually very stylish and comfortable.

Out of all non-traditional homes, this one takes the cake. Credit: Inspired Architecture

21. The Snail House

Fans of Spongebob Squarepants will immediately think that this house looks like Gary. But no, it’s actually a snail house from Sofia, Bulgaria. It’s a 5-story building that was built in 2008 by a construction professional who built golf courses in Japan and France. The owner also worked over the palace of the Emir in Kuwait. So out of everything they could do with their own home, they decided to build a colorful snail. On the rooftop, there is a small ladybug and butterfly, as well as a smaller snail.

This is a concept known as The Forest House because the house is in the middle of the woods. Credit: Amazing Architecture

20. The Forest House

This next house looks so futuristic, it almost looks fake… Well, that’s because it is. This is an architectural concept created by an architect named Miroslav Naskov. They suggest that the homes’ structure should be mostly 3D printed on-site to reduce cost. That includes the custom furniture design that goes inside. The concept was completed in 2021, but the construction for this Italian Forest House has yet to ever be made.

A hallowed out redwood tree became the One Log House. Credit: California Curiosities

19. The One Log House

How many logs does it take to build a house? Whatever your answer was, we’re pretty sure you would never say “one”. But this famous roadside attraction in California accomplished just that. It’s a singular Redwood log that has been hollowed out to make a tiny house. The One Log House was originally created in 1946 by a man named Art Schmock. According to legend, the wood they removed to hollow out this log was enough to build a five-bedroom house. Now, the house has a kitchen, two beds, and a comfortable living space that is frankly better than many other homes around the world.

This tea house was built on top of two trees to oversee the entire Japanese town. Credit: DeZeen

18. The Tea House

The name of this house is called Takasugi-an, which translates to “a tea house built too high”. It exists in Chino, Nagano Prefecture, Japan. The house was build on top of two chestnut trees, which technically makes it a treehouse. And the only way to get up there is by climbing the ladders that are propped up against the building. The architect, Terunobu Fujimori, chose to keep the house small and modest. He built it in the town he grew up in, so he has views of the entire village when he looks out the window.

The Wilkinson House was completed in 2004. Credit: Oshatz

17. The Wilkinson House

Tucked away in the woods of the Pacific Northwest, the Wilkinson House was designed by an architect named Robert Oshatz. The building was completed in 2004, but it somehow looks as though it has always been there. Natural materials were used to build the house, and it has environmentally friendly floor heating. On the inside, it has a total of 393 square meters of space.

Imagine living in one of these homes, because it would be tricky. Credit: Atlas Obscura

16. Cube Houses

If you visit Rotterdam in the Netherlands, you might have spotted these cube houses near a busy highway and train station. The apartments were created this way because the city planners needed to create homes that would fit into the residential zoned area above the busy street. An architect named Piet Blom came up with the solution of the cube house. When you’re inside, the living situation is quite awkward, and you lose a lot of living space to the angles of the home. However, it truly is unique.

This is simply called The Steel House because of what it’s made out of. Credit: Double Stone Steel

15. House of Welded Steel

An architect from Texas named Robert Bruno built this house of welded steel known simply as The Steel House. Robert started when he was 29 years old, and it took 33 years of work to complete the project, mostly because he was doing a lot of the construction by himself. He said, “What you’re seeing is 33 years of design, not three months of design and 33 years of labor.” Some people think the house looks like cars from the 1950’s, while others see a futuristic space house, but Robert Bruno had no singular inspiration, and simply did this for the love of steel.

This is called The Cloud House because it resembles a child’s drawing of a cloud. Credit: McBride Charles Bryan

14. The Cloud House

When you see the Cloud House, you would assume that it was built from scratch. However, what you see is actually an addition built onto an Edwardian house in Melbourne, Australia. The architect, McBride Charles Ryan, designed the house in three parts. This gives you a sense of “episodes” as you move through the house. The one that is the most striking, of course, is the cloud structure of the roof. 

This is called The Beer Can House, because it’s decorated entirely with beer cans. Credit: Google Maps

13. The Beer Can House

The Beer Can House of Houston, Texas was created by the owner of the home, John Milkovisch. When he retired from his job in furniture upholstery, he decided he wanted his house to look different from everyone else on the street. He replaced his grass with concrete, which is filled with mosaic tiles and pieces of glass and stones. Then he began to stack used beer cans over the front and sides of his house. Today, the Beer Can House is a huge tourist attraction in Houston, and a lot of people drive past to see it. If you visit, just be polite, because it’s still a private residence.

This retreat is called the heart house because its reflection looks like a heart in the water. Credit: Amazing Architecture

12. Heart Shaped Retreat House

This is yet another 3D designed concept of a house that’s called The Heart House Retreat, because when you see the reflection of the house in the water, you see that it is two halves of a heart. The designer,  Veliz Arquitecto, wanted to create a house that functioned a lot like a living organism, with oxygen flowing through one end of the house to the other. The concept was finished in 2021, but the real house has yet to be built.

The Crocodile house is completely livable because the artists took care of every detail. Credit: Atlas Obscura

11. Crocodile House

In 2008, an artist named Moussa Kalo created this crocodile house made out of concrete in the middle of Abidjan, Ivory Coast. Just two months before the house was completed, Kalo passed away. His apprentice,Thierry Atta, completed the project and moved into the house instead. Believe it or not, this house is completely livable. Locals love to visit, and kids love to play around this house shaped like a crocodile.

These houses may be illegal, because the blueprints submitted to the government were incorrect. Credit: Business Insider

10. Houses on the Rooftop

Many of you might look at these houses and wonder, “Is that even legal?” Well, it might not be. These homes were built in China on top of a factory in Dongguan, Guangdong province in 2013. These two houses built on the rooftop were nothing like the blueprints submitted to the government for their permits, and are therefore illegal. However, it’s still a mystery as to whether they were forced to tear the homes down or not.

The Keret House was designed by Jakub Szczesny. Credit: ArchDaily

9. The World’s Skinniest House

People with claustrophobia might want to skip this next house, because it gives just barely enough room to live and function on a day-to-day basis. The world’s skinniest house, The Keret House, was designed by a Polish architect named Jakub Szczesny.  It sits in-between two buildings in Warsaw, and the artist hoped that it would give the world a new perspective on the modern city.  The Keret House is used as a place for traveling writers to stay, and it continues to be more of an art installation rather than what you would expect from family homes.

The dancing house of Prague was once looked down upon because of its design. Credit: Architectuul

8. The Dancing House

The Dancing House was built in the 1990’s in Prague, Czech Republic by two architects named Vlado Milunić and Frank Gehry. At first, people of the city didn’t like the dancing house, because it is so vastly different from the architecture seen around Prague. However, after a while, people began to accept it as a work of art.

These are called the Rainwater Towers Apartments, because they are made to be eco-concious. Credit: Earth Bag Plans

7. Triple Roundhouse Tower

This design comes from Earthbag House Plans, and it’s a structure called Rainwater Towers Apartments. The concept is a three story triple roundhouse tower apartment complex that could provide affordable housing in urban areas. Each of the circular rooms would join together to be one apartment on each floor. Apparently, this plan would dramatically reduce normal construction cost, and it would result in a truly unique apartment.

This tiny home is called a triangle house, because it’s not a full a-frame. Credit: In Habitat

6. The Off-Grid Triangle

Here at Home Addict, we’ve already shown you some amazing A-Frame homes that are for rent on AirBnB. However, the architects from the Bjarke Ingels Group wanted to take the tradition and literally flip it on its head with this off-grid triangle home. This is the first time the group has ever designed a tiny house. It’s just 180 square feet of living space, and it can be built within six months of ordering the cabin.

This is simply known as the Turkana house, because it’s one used by a member of the Turkana tribe in Kenya. Credit: Richard and Martha Shaw

5. Turkana House

A Turkana House is typical of what you would find in Northwestern Kenya. This particular house belongs to James Ikimat, who preaches and studies at the Wayland Baptist University of Kenya. People of the Turkana tribe typically live in homes made of grass and other natural materials that they can find at their disposal in the wilderness. The circular shape of this home is rather unique, and not necessarily what every single Turkana house looks like.

The mystery castle in Phoenix, Arizona. Credit: Trip Savvy

4. Mystery Castle

The Mystery Castle in Phoenix, Arizona, was built by Boyce Luther Gulley. In 1927, he was diagnosed with tuberculosis, and decided to leave his wife and daughter behind in Seattle while he moved to Phoenix. He had promised his daughter a castle, just like the ones they made on the beach. So he began construction of this house, and brought his family back to live there. Fifteen years later, Boyce died, and the house was given to his wife and daughter. For a long time, his daughter Mary Lou gave tours to the public, but she eventually passed away, too. The city of Phoenix declared it a historic property that must be protected. Tours still go on to this day.

Monsanto decided that they wanted to sponsor the house of the future. Credit: Yesterland

3. Monsanto House of the Future

During the 1960’s, the House of the Future was an attraction in Disneyland. It was made out of synthetic materials, and suggested what houses may be like in the future. There were four 16-foot wings of the house that floated out on each side. This home was made by architects from MIT, and it was sponsored by the Monsanto Chemical Company. Eventually, this attraction was removed, because Disneyland wanted to move onto new and better things. However, photographs of the homes still remain. 

The 747 wing house. Credit: Architectural Record

2. 747 Wing House

Designed by an architect named David Hertz, this home was made out of recycled wings from a 747 airplane. They also used materials taken from airplane graveyards throughout California. The home sits on 55 acres of beautiful land in Malibu, and it truly is one of a kind. To learn more about this house, check out the article from the Architectural Record.

This is called the Summer House because of its reversed roof pool. Credit: 12 Tomatoes

1. Reversed Roof Pool

Last but not least is a concept home where the pool is on the roof of the house. Designed by Anti Realty, this home would just be one story of 914 square feet. It’s meant to be on a seaside cliff, giving people a summer getaway from big city living. In fact, they called it the Summer House just for that reason. However, it might not be very realistic, considering that water on a roof usually spells out doom for the structure of a home.

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