Big things are happening on TV Tropes! New admins, new designs, fewer ads, mobile versions, beta testing opportunities, thematic discovery engine, fun trope tools and toys, and much more - Learn how to help here and discuss here.
When a building is shown to have been built in a way that would either be impossible to build or is just plain ridiculous. Things like upside-down pyramids or buildings in the shape of something that is obviously not a building (for example, restaurants shaped like their signature food).
Can also apply to vehicles too. Compare Alien Geometries, Not Drawn to Scale, Benevolent Architecture, and Malevolent Architecture. Taken to the extreme, this can result in a man-made Eldritch Location. If looking for M. C. Escher, head on down to True Art Is Incomprehensible by way of the stairwell which goes upward until it loops on itself. Also note Zeerust, as the decades around the middle 20th century contain several prominent real-life examples.
Common variations include:
Also from there, Las Noches is a palace the size of a country, and Szayel has the ability to mess with the corridors (at least in his section of the castle) with a central console in his room. It also has at least one room filled with pillars that do not reach up to the roof and serve no discernible purpose.
Ichigo's inner world is a city that is completely sideways while the clouds drift down. Despite being his own inner world, it seems to bother Ichigo.
In Blame, it's pretty much all you see, as most shots are primarily of the characters' surroundings and not the characters themselves. The scale of many shots is mind boggling, and the architectural style jumps all over the place, mainly because the place in question is a Dyson Sphere called the City with an inner surface at 1 AU and an exterior at about 8 AU. Therefore, if a building can be built, it probably has been built in The City.
In JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, Dio's Palace has a tropic island in the lower floors, and a MC Escher-esque main room. It turns out to be the work of the Stand user Kenny G. Once Iggy takes him out effortlessly, the palace turns back to normal
Iria: Zeiram The Animation has skyscrapers that look like giant parasols on one planet (which may be justified, as there is apparently some hazardous precipitation on that particular planet, although the specifics are glossed over). Two vehicles (at least) feature what look like parasols with the open sides sandwiched together. One is a 4-seat craft that appears to have this as the drive housing, and the other is a space liner that has this as most of the hull (which means it could also be needed for the drive to work).
In a Xxx HolicNon-Serial Movie, Watanuki et al visit an eccentric's house that's more like a (very deadly) funhouse, with fun features like never-ending hallways, trap doors leading to other trap doors leading to other trap doors, and stairs that can't ever seem to decide which way is up.
In Ghost Hunt they encounter a house very similar to the famous Winchester House, but with a much more sinister reason behind its construction.
The City Without Streets by Junji Ito takes place in a town with buildings that grow together to the point that the streets are gone and people need to move through the buildings to get around. Any damage done to the buildings regenerates within a day.
Blue Exorcist: True Cross Academy, on top of being pretty weird, is in fact rigged with various anti-demon measures, requiring the use of magical keys to get from place to place. It's not uncommon for characters to enter an elaborate, vaulted chamber through the door of what looks like a storage shed.
Sandman's castle in Gravion looks like someone took a fairytale castle, stuck an identical castle to the underside, then mounted them both on a giant pylon.
Silver AgeBatman comics used to have all sorts of giant object-shaped building, which was also reflected in the '60s TV show: the Batman: Black and White story "Urban Renewal" has a writer/photographer documenting the change of the city's architecture to the more Gothic style and attempting to start a preservation movement for the older buildings.
In Arkham Asylum: Living Hell, it's established that Humpty Dumpty caused a huge accident involving all the novelty buildings, causing the Sprang Act to ban that sort of thing from the Gotham skyline.
Also lampshaded in a crossover between the Titans and the Legion of Super-Heroes. Beast Boy mocks the Legion for their L-shaped headquarters... and a Legionnaire immediately asks what their headquarters looks like.
The Emperor's Tomb in ABC Warriors; one section is a direct homage of Escher's Relativity.
Doctor Strange's Sanctum Sanctorum looks like an ordinary New York brownstone on the outside, but the inside is much bigger, and parts of it looks like M. C. Escher was the lead contractor.
Edifis the Architect's house in Astérix and Cleopatra.
Bringing Me To Life being a fanfic of The Matrix Path Of Neo example below has the same jumbled building/bigger on the inside maze. Max even thinks that, "It's like something out of an M.C. Escher painting."
Baba Yaga's house sits atop outwards facing chicken legs, often walking in circles...
Films — Animation
In Pixar's Cars, Sally Carera's Cozy Cone motel is a set of one-car garages that look like road cones. This was designed as an homage to a similar real-world roadside motel that is composed of plaster tepees. Flo's gas station looks like a giant cylinder head, but that's not so obvious.
In Howl's Moving Castle, the castle looks like a giant heap of old machinery bits, doors and windows, roofs shaped like crabs' heads and walks on giant mechanical "chicken legs" (Baba Yaga, anyone ?). Hayao Miyazaki sure has a strange imagination.
The Nightmare Before Christmas. Lock, Shock and Barrel's treehouse might have looked like a real treehouse at some point, but Henry Selick kept telling the designer to push it further and further till it looked like it was about to fall off. Then someone had to build a model out of it.
Disney's Pinocchio has a tavern shaped like an 8-ball.
Appropriately, every set in the live-action film The 5000 Fingers of Dr. T (1953) is like this. Ladders to nowhere, stairs that close in on themselves or disappear into a hole in the ceiling, a tree made out of pipe and urinals etc. And of course, the 500-seat piano.
The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari: Holstenwall, probably the only fictitious town whose architecture alone is horror incarnate. All the buildings are crooked, and the shadows are painted on the ground.
Cube (1997) is set in a building made up of a three-dimensional moving matrix of cube-shaped cells, most equipped with various booby traps that will kill the prisoners inside.
Cube 2: Hypercube (2002) takes the concept to a whole new level, adding strange gravitational and time effects, as well as much more. The matrix of cubes is, in this movie, a tesseract, which is made by extending a cube along a fourth spatial dimension. It's about as comprehensible as it sounds. There are also bizarre quantum effects, which combine with the temporal and spatial effects mean that once someone goes IN, they will never stop coming OUT, with every copy having had a different set of experiences inside. This turns out to be rather important to the closing explanation of what the hell's actually been going ON in this film that's got a plot almost as weird as the setting.
The Overlook Hotel in Stanley Kubrick's adaptation of The Shining is loaded with this, most certainly deliberately. A few, but by no means the only examples: the window in Mr. Ullman's office could not exist because a hallway is shown to be behind the office, the interior of room 237 is impossibly spacious given how close together the doors to the rooms are in the outer hallway - plus said doors would have to open into flights of stairs or the walls of the Colorado Lounge in order to be consistent with how the hall is shown relative to the rest of the hotel in Danny's tricycle scenes. Irregularities exist in the location of the kitchen relative to the lobby, the layout of the hedge maze, the window of the bathroom in the Torrance's apartment and several sets - the games room, the river of blood hallway and the hallway where Danny sees the two girls, are not shown in relation to any other part of the hotel. Not to mention the fact that the interior clearly doesn't match the shape of the exterior. As if the Overlook wasn't scary enough already.
MirrorMask is a great example of just about every subcategory at some time in the movie.
The Rocketeer: The Bulldog Cafe is an example of a giant object building. No points for guessing what it's shaped like. Not as daft as it sounds, since diners shaped like animals used to be quite common in Los Angeles.
The villains' ice palace in Die Another Day was made of... ice. Handwaved because it was set in Iceland; it would be cold enough for that to work at least some of the time. The villain melts it to drown the NSA agent inside.
Aluminum Christmas Trees: Those kind of buildings actually exist. However, Iceland is actually not cold enough for such a building to exist for more than a couple of weeks. The winter weather is very erratic and fluctuating, with frequent freeze-thaw-cycles that would ruin an ice building very quickly. As the previous example shows, northern Scandinavia is much more amenable to Ice buildings, because there they actually have a stable, cold winter climate.
A number of the locations in Metropolis fit this trope, especially the Eternal Gardens and the Catacombs, partially because they borrow from the Expressionist aesthetics of The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (see above). Plus there's all those drawings of buildings shown when Freder talks to his father about the city, which were so ridiculous that even models couldn't be made of them.
The office building in Being John Malkovich contains a 7 1/2th floor with a portal into the head of John Malkovich.
One of the pirate outposts in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies consists of dozens of ships piled on top of one another, with doors and windows cut into their hulls.
Inception runs on this trope, including a folding city and two instances of Escher's neverending staircase.
Dracula's Castle in Bram Stoker's Dracula is essentially this, although on outside. Apparently distorted gravity doesn't help either. Portrayal of the castle during Jonathan's escape is nothing short of Escher's works.
Dario Argento's Suspiria and Inferno run on this trope, but it makes (some) sense considering they take place in magical houses of the damned. Strangely averted in the third film in the series, Mother of Tears, which made its house run-down and dark.
The bad guys in The Adjustment Bureau could, among their many powers, turn ordinary buildings into messed up mazes. The Daily Show (yes, really) seemingly had a door into an in-escapable prison.
Dark City looks reasonably normal, but when everyone is asleep, the whole city would transform.
The Jewish ghetto of Prague in The Golem, another German movie of the silent film era, designed as jumbled array of exaggeratedly crooked houses.
The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland features Grouchland, a city where all the buildings, cars, furniture and everything else are deliberately built at weird angles to conform with the Grouches' ideals of messiness.
Murder by Death: Played for laughs when Sam Diamond decides to investigate the house while everyone else is waiting in the dining room, but the rooms keep shifting around to Sam's confusion.
Rendezvous with Rama. One of the greatest science fiction books ever written. Its about a presumed asteroid which turns out to be a cylinder. Inside the cylinder is a whole new world with buildings that look like ours and oceans and mountains. The problem? They're all built inside a giant cylinder so no matter where you are if you look above you see more buildings that are upside down! Or mountains, or the most disturbing and nauseating to the explorers, The Cylindrical Sea. It's an ocean that sits above you. With waves and everything that hang in the air. poof there goes your sanity. This is known as an O'Neill cylinder.
The Castle of the Silver Wheel. If you visit various portions of the complex in a specified order, pattern spells associated with them act as magical shortcuts (e.g., if you go through the double arch behind the South Tower after visiting various courtyards, buildings, and gardens in a certain order, you will find yourself on the opposite side of the castle rather than in the place just beyond the arch).
Dame Ceinwen's house is sometimes in the Marshes-Between-Here-and-There (as in The Grail and the Ring) and sometimes in other places. It seems to be Bigger on the Inside, although it's hard to tell, since someone inside the house can never quite see all of the room he or she is standing in.
In Robert A. Heinlein's short story And He Built a Crooked House, the eponymous house is inspired by the idea of a heretofore undiscovered fourth dimension of space, producing a 4-dimensional house 'unfolded' in 3D. Which is fine until there's an earthquake and it 'folds' to become fully 4D.
He plays around with dimensions again in The Number of the Beast, the ending of which features a giant party for characters from every possible literary continuity and alternate universe. To prevent guests from being pestered by them, the protagonists invite every possible literary critic and direct them to a buffet hall with topology best described as a cross between a Klein bottle and a lobster trap.
Unlikely foundations (although a wizard built it). It not only moves, but can bob in the air and hang partially over a cliff, as shown in House of Many Ways. The water pipes somehow bring in water from the hot springs out in the marshes (or the waste, if necessary).
It also appears much bigger on the outside than on the inside, since it gives the appearance of a full-sized castle from the outside, but on the inside contains only the interior space of whatever 'real' house it corresponds to (e.g. Howl's place in Porthaven, which only has about four rooms). When Calcifer is moved to Market Chipping, the room around the main hearth changes shape a little, and while the actual building it corresponded to had extra rooms (and the windows still existed on the outside), they seemed unreachable from the inside.
It's impossible to go all the way around the castle on the outside. The side that people can't get to seems to look out on our world; Howl's bedroom window looks out over his sister's house, and Calcifer says that the black-down version of the Cool Gate(which leads to Wales) goes to the side of the castle that no one can walk around.
The eponymous house in House of Many Ways was built on a spot where space and time were naturally 'folded', as was discovered by the wizard who lives there.
Routes through the house can lead to different locations and / or times.
In Betty MacDonald's Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle stories, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle's house was built upside-down.
In Robin Mc Kinley's Rose Daughter, the palace of the Beast has a subtly changing floor plan, including changes to interior decoration. The room featuring a star design on the floor, for example, has a different number of corridors branching off from it at different times, and the star design's number of points changes to suit. It is very disorienting to climb stairs within the building, because it makes one more conscious of subtle shifts. Most notable is the room containing the staircase that leads to the roof; its interior cannot be seen, because no light will stay lit within it.
The jumbled buildings of Unseen University, whose staircases go somewhere different depending on the time of day (later... ahem... inspiring Hogwarts from Harry Potter) and which includes rooms with infinite floor space. Any map made of the university is only valid for a few days, and resembles an exploding chrysanthemum.
The building we see the most is also the most bizarre: the Library. Noted for being connected to every other library and book store anywhere and anywhen, the geometry is so complex that search parties sometimes have to be mounted for lost students. There's also the bit where there isn't so much a ceiling, just another part of the floor with more books. It is also mentioned at least once that no matter where one goes in the Library, one always seems to be under the glass dome at the center. Presumably, this includes when one is in those areas where one can look up and see another floor covered with bookcases (although it is never actually mentioned if those floors above you are places where you can also look up and also see the floor, or even if anyone other than the librarian can actually REACH them, despite people being seen in them).
There's also the tower at Bugarup University in The Last Continent, which in a confusing inversion of Bigger on the Inside is taller at the top than at the bottom. From the ground and inside while climbing the ladder, it was about 20 feet high. At the top it was thousands of feet tall.
And there's also Death's mansion, which also has the same "bigger on the inside" and "rooms with infinite floorspace" problems. Notably, only the middle 20 square feet or so of the rooms are carpeted, and normal humans walk straight from the door to the carpeted space without noticing the area in between.
Also Empirical Crescent, Bergholt Stuttley "Bloody Stupid" Johnson's masterpiece of architecture where no-one stays very long as the front door of No.1 opens into the back bedroom of No.15 and so on. It has a low crime rate, though. Thieves generally prefer to break into one apartment at a time.
On the subject of B.S. Johnson, he also brings us a semi-inversion: Where a version of bizzarechitecture is that buildings are built to look like giant objects, Johnson actually designed a cruet set that was eventually used as a set of buildings. The pepper mill is used as a grain silo, and four families (somehow) live in the salt shaker.
The Temple of the Sender of Eight was particularly notable in that it was completely constructed of regular octagons that tessellated perfectly.
Also the capital city of Krull, built mostly out of ships that were collected by the Circumfence.
Which brings us to Hogwarts from Harry Potter. Staircases that move, walls pretending to be doors and vice versa, and the Room of Requirement that becomes whatever is needed by whomever's nearby. It is also implied that the entire castle has magically grown and changed over time, which handwaves the fact that a 1000-year-old castle wouldn't be anything like what Hogwarts is.
The Burrow (house of the Weasleys) is this too, as described by Harry. It is mostly held together by magic.
Black House by Stephen King contains a house that has a lot of reality altering characteristics, as well as a gateway to another dimension. The house seems to be alive.
HP Lovecraft: R'lyeh from the Cthulhu Mythos. An architecture so bizarre humans go crazy even when seeing only a small part of it. Note that it's a pretty Flanderized description. In the original short story, The Call of Cthulhu, the Norwegian sailors who entered the city were pretty freaked out, but no-one actually went insane before Cthulhu himself showed up. Also, the witch house has a door that somehow leans both to the left and right at the same time
The book The Haunting of Hill House has at least as much Bizarrchitecture as either movie version. "Angles which you assume are the right angles you are accustomed to, and have every right to expect are true, are actually a fraction of a degree off in one direction or another. I am sure, for instance, that you believe that the stairs you are sitting on are level...."
In Dan SimmonsHyperion, the technology of the Farcster leads to this. The house of Martin Silenius had stairs which lead down to a tower on another world. The toilet was on a raft in the middle on an ocean on another planet as well. It is mentioned that albeit very expensive it is not uncommon to have such houses.
The castle of the Good Magician Humfrey in the Xanth series was constructed using several plans and layouts. At command, the castle can assume a different configuration meaning few visitors see the same castle twice.
The Vorkosigan Saga gives us Lord Dono Vorrutyer (an ancestor of the current Count Dono Vorrutyer) Mad Emperor Yuri's Imperial architect: responsible for the two ugliest buildings in Vorbarra Sultana: ImpSec headquarters, and the municipal stadium. ImpSec headquarters have oversized steps leading up to its enormous front doors, guaranteed to give anyone leg cramps who tried to climb them. (People with genuine business with ImpSec know to go around to the side door.) After Yuri was deposed, Lord Dono retired to country, where he lived off his daughter and son in law, and went stark mad. He built a bizarre set of towers there, that his descendants charge admission for people to see, now.
It's theoretically buildable, but the eponymous House of Stairs is a rather impractical design, to say the least. The stairs go up and the stairs go down, supported by pillars, and at various places they reach small landings, but they never actually go to a floor or a ceiling. No walls can be seen from any of the stairs the protagonists can reach, though they can see other stairs, not connected to theirs. They can't even figure out how they got there, let alone how to get out.
Gormenghast frequently strays into this trope. And lingers.
The Hotel Denouement from is built so that the actual building cannot be distinguished from its reflection at first glance. To achieve this effect, the building's architects wrote all of the hotel's signs backwards, constructed it at an angle so that the nearby lake reflected only the building and not the surrounding scenery, and grew moss and lilies on the bricks like those that you would find in a lake. This is all without mentioning the fact that the entirety of the hotel's interior is organized by the Dewey Decimal System.
Doctor Orwell's eye-shaped building, the "thumb" shaped buildings at Prufrock Prep and to a certain extent, the Eye decor of Olaf's house. Aunt Josephine's house clinging to the edge of a cliff counts as well, though THAT one didn't last long.....
Red Harvest from Star Wars. The main building at one of the Sith Academies eems to be this. The students and the staff would swear the tower curves in ways not supportable by everyday physics.
The settlers' undersea houses in Dark Life are shaped like jellyfish and other invertebrates, because they deal with the pressure better.
In the Enchanted Forest Chronicles, one of King Mendanbar's ancestors was so fond of sweeping up and down staircases in his ermine robe that he had staircases installed wherever there was room, regardless of need. This resulted in a castle where getting anywhere involves a lot of climbing. The oddest case is cited to be a dungeon which requires a four-flight climb followed by a six-flight descent.
The city of Oubliette on terraformed Mars featured in Hannu Rajaniemi's The Quantum Thief is built on the backs of titanic Atlas Quiets, uploaded human minds controlling gigantic robots. In result it's always on the move, and its layout is constantly changing as the Quiets move around each other. As far as bizzareness of architecture goes, it's actually one of the more normal locations in the novel's transhuman future.
In The Red Tree, Sarah discovers that the cellar under the house has some properties that it simply just shouldn't - such as the fact that it randomly decides that it wants to be an impossibly large, featureless cavern. The area around the title tree also demonstrates some impossible geography - Sarah and Constance manage to spend an hour running in circles and getting lost even though they were heading in a straight line to a visible target less than a hundred yards away.
In a setting with as-expected nonhuman alphabets (one in which many letters can become other letters when the lower half is covered), it's strange that the offices of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy are in a building shaped like a giant letter H, according to how Ford navigates it, not just how an English person reads it with the Babelfish. This is probably one of that "whole string of pretty meaningless coincidences" mentioned in passing as a byproduct of creating an Infinite Improbability Drive way back in the first book. Or maybe the modern Roman alphabet got its letter H the same way the British got the game of cricket. Either of these explanations make at least as much sense as anything that happened on the page both times when a viewpoint character was in the vicinity of these buildings.
The Mortal Engines series by Philip Reeve is full of this trope. Much of the action takes place on a number of 'traction cities' - enormous industrial, ziggurat-shaped vehicles with whole cities piled on top of them, that move around the landscape on caterpillar tracks, or in one instance, sleds.
The planet Bundinal in Starfleet Corps of Engineers. Due to the natives' love of symmetry, houses on Bundinal have faux front doors at the back - not a back door, but a door identical to the one in front, and looking equally important, even though it isn't. This is but the first of their architecture's aesthetically significant but practically useless features.
The children's book Koziolek Matolek has a Chinese palace in the form of a giant teapot.
Doom: Knee-Deep in the Dead attempts to justify the game's secret doors by explaining them as motion sensor-operated automated portions of the facility. Then the aliens rework the place with demonic imagery, skulls, penis-levers, and flesh walls. Fly and Arlene are uncertain if the aliens are responsible for the computer bank laid out as a Nazi Swastika. At one point they release the area of "hell" they've entered was designed in the shape of a hand. Another time they find themselves in a literalWomb Level.
Some of the constructs in Otherland are truly odd. One being a rambling house the size of a large city, and another being a hacker-run virtual enclave called Treehouse, where they threw out the laws of physics altogether.
In Patricia McKillip's Riddle Master trilogy the High One has a tower of finite height that's accessed via an external spiral staircase. The problem is that no matter how long one climbs the top always appears the same distance above. An exhausted Morgon eventually makes it to the top when space starts behaving again, only to discover that Raederle has arrived before him by transforming into a bird and flying in through a window. As she points out, however, neither of them would have succeeded if the High One had wanted to keep them out.
Consider Willy Wonka's factory in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Within this Big Labyrinthine Building that is also an Elaborate Underground Base, there's the mostly-edible Chocolate Room and the chocolate river system for starters. Via the Great Glass Elevator, even more strange rooms are glimpsed or mentioned in passing: "The Rock-Candy Mine — 10,000 feet deep", a caramel lake, and a fudge mountain. In the sequel novel, there's also a room where chocolate gushes from the ground the way oil can, and the elevator can even go all the way down to a dreary Minus World.
The Twilight Zone (1985): in "Wong's Lost and Found Emporium", the emporium manifests itself in the form of a door that appears briefly sometimes in blank walls throughout the world. Go through the door and you are in a very very large lost & found shop, with everything that anybody has ever lost.
The TARDIS in almost every Doctor Who episode every made (aside from parts of the 3rd Doctor's run), which is "bigger on the inside than on the outside." It has miles of hallways, multi-level wardrobes with spiral staircases and balconies, a boot cupboard the size of a bedroom, laboratories and medical bays, and multiple swimming pools.
And, every time the Tardis rebuilds itself, it gets a whole new floorplan. The swimming pool just might be in the library.
Stargate SG-1: In the season 6 episode 6 "Abyss" , there is a jail cell where Jack O'Neill is trapped inside by a shifting gravity field that turns the wall into the floor.
The Brady Bunch: A client, Beebee Gallini, freaks Mike out when she asks him to design her makeup factory first in the shape of a powder puff, then a lipstick, and finally a compact, complete with hinged roof.
In Lazytown just try to find a doorway, window, building, or any structure or object made of only basic straight lines.
Although almost certainly not intentional, Fawlty Towers was a very Jumbled House. Come in the main door, turn left, go straight ahead into the kitchen, turn left again out the back door. Return to the kitchen and leave the way you came in, turn right up the stairs. Halfway up, there's a 180-degree turn to the right, and at the top you have to turn right 90 degrees onto the first floor. There are plenty of rooms on either side of the wide landing, and if you go past the two on the right, there's a little passage that leads to the next flight of stairs up with another turn right, which means by now you're somewhere over the car park. From the outside it looks like a perfectly normal ex-stately homenote Actually the Wooburn Grange Country Club in Buckinghamshire, now long-since burned down.
Clarissa's father Marshall in Clarissa Explains It All frequently designs buildings of the giant objects variety, including a tooth for a dentist's office, to name one out of many examples.
Rose Red, being a Genius Loci and rather malevolent, is full of rooms and corridors that don't care for the laws of physics and are generally out to kill anyone within its walls.
In an earlier episode, his boss designed a building that (inadvertently) resembled an enormous penis.
In Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon, the presence of a youma in a building causes this, leading to doors opening on the same hallway you came from, and stairs that you climb only to find yourself on the same floor.
The Stone Tape. The haunted room being studied by the scientists has a staircase leading up the wall to nowhere, apparently built as a folly. The maid whose ghost is haunting the house was killed falling off the stairs and the female member of the team notes it doesn't seem high enough to kill someone that way. She herself is pursued up the staircase by an ancient evil to an Eldritch Location from which she falls an infinite distance, being found in the room later dead of shock.
Star Trek: The Next Generation: In the episode "Where Silence Has Lease", the Enterprise ends up trapped in a seemingly endless void when the Enterprise's sister ship the Yamato appears. Riker and Worf beam over to investigate, only to find some impossibly bizarre architecture, including rooms they just came from changing right behind them and a bridge whose exits only loop around to the same bridge.
In Dungeons & Dragons, githzerai monks make use of the fact that the Plane of Limbo has subjective gravity (i.e. "down" is whatever direction you want it to be) and make their monasteries Escheresque fortifications.
That doesn't have anything on Babba Yagga's house, which is an enormous hypercube inside a tiny house.
Some of the Demon Lords like to do this (since they have godlike power and can reshape layers of the Abyss that they control however they see fit). Lolth, for instance, reshaped one layer known as the Demonweb into a large, twisting maze in which some paths go over some parts of other levels and under others.
To clarify, the paths are all level, there are no inclines or declines, they are perfectly level. Yet they go over and under each other anyway.
Exalted has, among other examples, Malfeas, the Demon City. He is both the city at the heart of the hell dimension and the hell dimension itself, surrounded by his co-conspirators who have taken on various elemental forms. His body is made up of various strata of buildings, statues, streets and monuments of varying utility and habitability — and he is frequently known to bring said strata crashing down upon one another without warning.
Magic: The Gathering uses this a lot on Rath. It's also used on Phyrexia, both old and new. More recently, the Eldrazi have used this too, creating superstructures from the hedrons designed to keep them in physical form (and thus unable to escape Zendikar).
Over the Edge: The Al Amarjan airport terminal is shaped like a cone standing on its point. This is a trick, though — the actual terminal is underground and the cone is an empty shell. Said terminal was built with the assistance of coral-like extradimensional aliens, so the inside can get very weird in places.
Unintentional example from Shadowrun: published adventures have weird maps that look like they were designed by people who have never seen real buildings before, like a twelve-storey shopping complex with no clearly visible elevators, escalators, or service corridors.
Disney Theme Parks LOVES this trope. Also included are The Tree of Life, an oil rig platform dressed up to look like a giant tree with animals sculpted into the "bark", that houses a theater and can double as Large Objects. The Rainforest Cafe in Down Town Disney looks like a volcano, the Dino Cafe looks like a mountain, and the Circe du Solie building looks like a giant white circus tent. All Star Sports, Music, and Movies and Disney's Pop Century Hotel all boast a metric ton of giant objects related to their themes (it's a trope unto the hotels on the lower end of the price spectrum) and two pools that reflect a particular theme. Many of the hotels also feature pools with bizarre structures that house water slides (most are mountains, but a few break this norm such as French Quarter, which has a sea serpent). Disney also has a love affair with Roller Coasters in mountains, featuring no less than five different man-made mountains in four separate parks, and then there's the World Show Case. And as a special note, this only accounts for the Orlando based parks, not even covering the four other ones around the world.
The Forest Temple from Ocarina of Time fits this trope, mainly because of the corridors that end up becoming "twisted" as you activate certain switches, really screwing with your mind when you realize that as you walk through them, you stay on the red carpet decorating the floor instead of walking onto the walls or ceiling midway, and that the hallways twist in such a way that the doors shouldn't even lead in the directions they do.
Stone Tower Temple in Majora's Mask, which can be literally turned upside down to explore it while walking on the ceiling, and avoiding to fall into the sky.
Sky Keep in Skyward Sword, whose rooms can be moved via special tile panels, changing drastically the layout of the dungeon.
In the Banjo-Kazooie series, Mumbo Jumbo's house is shaped like his skull mask and feathers.
In Diablo II, act II, the Arcane Sanctuary consists of many paths and stairways with no foundations at all. It's basically an entire level designed by M.C. Escher. Go down stairs to a level which then passes over the one you were just on, etc. Surprisingly doesn't hurt your brain as much as you would think it ought to.
Ibsen's Castle in Final Fantasy IX is mirror-imaged on the underside. And it's nothing compared to Memoria.
In the first Devil May Cry, buildings and surroundings alike get really weird when you travel through the rifts in and out of the Underworld. If its not Womb Level, its this. Also happens in the second one to a lesser extent, and in Devil May Cry 3 there's the Temen-ni-guru tower. You eventually get to walk up/down/sideways a pristine white version of the Escher Stairs as well as a rotating "room" with a giant hourglass.
Some blocks of Tartarus in Persona 3 (and the Abyss of Time in FES) feature jumbled collections of floors and staircases floating in midair in the background. There's also the whole sprouting up out of the ground every night bit... during the day it's a perfectly normal high school.
The Purple Moon civilization of Glacia, from Skies of Arcadia is comprised of upside down buildings reminiscent of stalagmites. The city is itself located on the bottom of the Purple Continent, which is the equivalent of one of the real world's poles... except floating in midair.
Constantine's Mansion in the Thief: The Dark Project and Thief Gold games contains giant objects (in the Gold version's Brobdignag section), much of the ground floor and the floor above it have interiors rotated either 90 or 180 degrees from normal, with furniture either fastened to the walls or ceilings, some of the rooms and corridors have oddly slanted walls, in one case forming a spiral pattern; some of the gardens also have this; one floor is a mixture of jungle-type tunnels, ordinary corridors and corridors with odd perspectives, and one room is entered through the roof of a greenhouse — you come up through a pool of water inside the room.
The Sunken Temple in World of Warcraft. Built by a snake cult, the building features twisting passages, enormous spiral stairs, and a deeply, deeply unintuitive layout (going up two floors to get to a stair that takes you down one is a mild example). And all four of its wings are like that.
Blackrock Mountain is this. Why is there a dead end? Why are half of this city's walkways suspended over a lake of lava? No real reason.
In the second half of Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, you fight in Dracula's Castle... which is now upside down. Not to say that his castle, when right-side-up, was much more sensibly laid out...
It never is, it's Chaos Architecture. Until Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin, all the save points were identical looking. So you could get Symphony's really nice red carpeted save points... in the underground caverns. And then there's the fact that half of the locations link to each other even if it makes no sense.
The Polyhedron in Pathologic. Lampshaded and then justified in that it has a massive spike through the centre that keeps the building up. This was the wound that became 'infected' and caused the plague.
Every building in The Neverhood... especially the giant piece of toast with the fries sticking out of the top.
Psychonauts has very few levels outside the summer camp that don't have topography that would drive one insane. Justified in that many of the levels take place in the mental landscape of people who are questionably sane at best. Of special note is the Thorney Towers asylum, which starts looking like something out of the mind of Escher as you climb it but is set completely in the real world instead of someone's twisted imagination.
It's quite easy to create bizarre-looking buildings in The Sims (and its sequels), either on purpose or just through not knowing anything about architecture. Buildings that break topography are more or less impossible, but through either cheats or removing load-bearing elements after building on top of them, you can violate physics quite a bit.
Specifically, you can build or edit any structure that has solid ground beneath it. Thus, you can build a 2 or 3-story house and then remove parts of the lower floor(s), so that the upper floor(s) is now partially/wholly unsupported. Taken to the extremes, the game will allow you to have a building that consists of only a 3rd floor+roof, accessible only by a ladder from a small block of land located in the middle of a swimming pool that takes up all of the property's land.
The buildings in City of Heroeslook normal, but they clearly aren't. Aside from the more mundane issues (Elevators only go up one floor, labyrinthine layouts that no sane office building would have), there are also some weirder things... (A door leading to an office building one visit can lead to a secret laboratory on a later one, sometimes within minutes of each other). There's also the one mission where an ordinary door in a Casino takes you to HELL.
Team Fortress 2, in accordance with its cartoonish, over the top style, is made of this trope in its map layouts. 2Fort is the most obvious—the opposing sides' bases are placed within a stone's throw from one another, and the power lines in the intelligence rooms just run from one outlet to another. User-made maps (such as Orange Box or Mario Kart) can be even more deliberately bizarre.
Silent Hill, being a town made of the stuff of nightmares, invokes this trope on purpose when you're wandering in the Dark World. Or in the (for lack of a better term) Light World, for that matter. Silent Hill Historical Society is an example.
Dawn of Mana in general tries to justify the layout of its stages so that people could have conceivably used those places other than an obstacle course, but the Very Definitely Final Dungeon is full of twisting hallways, strangely oriented walls and floors, and warp zones to vaguely shaped structures floating in space.
Morrowind has both Daedric ruins, which are full of weird angles, and Telvani towers, which are giant mushrooms used as buildings.
Prince of Persia (2008) has some bizarre angles and other unexplained weirdness, especially in The Concubine's levels.
Realm Of Impossibility is a 2D adventure game from 1984 that features a number of floorplans that would be impossible in 3D.
The Myst games adore this trope, with such Scenery Porn delights as rock-embedded shipwrecks (Myst), prisons or wasp-nestlike villages built into giant trees (Riven), a cross between a pagoda and a roller coaster (Exile), elevators that travel horizontally underwater (Revelation), giant cubical tombs suspended over canyons (Uru), and Clockpunk-looking alien observatories (End Of Ages).
Dwarf Fortress can have it's eponymous fortresses lain out however you like; there's nothing wrong with having the barracks and apartment complex sprinkled with random tombs and burial chambers. And then we can move onto the physics, which are hilariously bent. It can start with upside-down pyramids, and quickly moves on to having entire regions completely undermined and only held up by a handful of pillars, made from soap. Tallow soap. Bizarre constructions, along with pointless doomsday devices, are a rite of passage amongst DF players.
Succession Games will inevitably reach a point where even the original players are completely baffled by the design of the fortress. This is not helped by some players' fondness of outright Malevolent Architecture.
Resident Evil's Raccoon City takes it to an extreme. What sort of insane architect designs police stations, houses, and cities riddled with mind-numbingly difficult puzzles and deadly traps? In the same vein, Resident Evil: Code: Veronica does it with Ashford Island and the Antarctic facility. Resident Evil 4 has the castle and research island.
The tower of St. Mystere, in Professor Layton and the Curious Village, looks like nothing so much as a dozen or so differently-shaped buildings stacked on top of one another. It's a mystery as to how it defies gravity, much less is safe to inhabit.
The Darco, or deconstructed arcology, in SimCity 2000. Purposely built to be weird and twisty.
All the arcologies in the Sim City series exhibit this trope to varying degrees.
Yen Sid's tower in Kingdom Hearts II. The tower is on an island floating in space, and the interior is a floating stairway with portals connecting to the rooms.
Kingdom Hearts 3D's The World That Never Was (Sora's side) has the Contorted City. It's so contorted, it's barely a city anymore.
The original and 3D (Riku's side) has Monstro (known as Prankster's Paradise in 3D) which is an example of this AND Womb Level. Having wood pilings actually makes sense considering Monstro is a giant whale that eats ships. However, they didn't try to lay it out like what the inside of a giant animal might actually be like until 3D. Even then, you can open a hole in the bottom of the Bowels and end up right in Monstro's mouth.
The engines used in Duke Nukem 3D is quite capable of this, although it isn't used for this purpose in any of the official levels. The engine is pretty much the last one that used sectors (discrete units of space) to define levels instead of solid objects (which was popularized by Quake and has been used in pretty much all engines since). To allow sectors over other sectors, which edges connect is defined in the level data, but there's nothing that says you need to, for instance, have the actual heights of ceilings and floors in overlapping sectors make them different floors of a building. This allows you to build environments where you can walk around a building and be in different places depending on how many times you've walked around the building.
Surely the Tower of Gedden in Chrono Cross qualifies. The building itself is the remnant of a Time Crash, containing chunks of many a future - and one aborted present. It's just as screwed up as you'd expect it to be.
Minecraft allows players to build structures that fit into any category. Big objects are common as megaprojects, while unlikely foundations (or No Foundations At All) are made possible by the fact that only a few blocks are affected by gravity. Place one block on top of another, then knock out the bottom block, and the first block will remain suspended in midair where you placed it.
Antichamber takes it Up to Eleven, with the levels being practically non-Euclidean. Rooms don't necessarily connect to other rooms based on relative spatial position. Rooms often also connect to rooms based on where the player is looking and at what angle the player is coming from, or on the player's previous series of actions. Some rooms even change after visiting other rooms. However, the more esoteric means of getting around have distinctive objects that you can associate with what you need to do.
Chains Of Satinav has a place like this in Neirutvena. The spiraling walkway outside the Queen's throne room is styled in such a way that you become smaller as you walk up towards the pool at the top, which is fed into by an upwards-falling waterfall below. Dropping things off this waterfall, or letting them float up, will change the size of the object.
Yorick's room in Quest for Glory I is a maze of Scooby-Dooby Doors. There are stairs on the ceiling (that you don't use). Falling off the walkway into the bottomless pit sends the Hero tumbling out of ANOTHER door where he can recover and get back to his feet. The game even Lampshades this by commenting how much M. C. Escher would love it. Justified because it was built by a Gnome.
Baba Yaga's hut is a house on chicken legs. That can fly.
W.I.T. consists of a fairly normal-looking entry chamber. And a narrow pathway in empty space with no walls, ceiling or floor, that just goes on and on and on. Justified since it was built by wizards. So yes, A Wizard Did It.
The Cave of the Dark One in Quest for Glory IV doesn't just look like the interior of some giant creature carved from stone. You're actually inside the body of Avoozl that's been frozen in stone. Features that look like bones, hearts, sensory organs and alveoli actually are bones, hearts, sensory organs and alveoli.
Many of the buildings in the Pokemon Mystery Dungeon series consist of a giant version of their owner's head, even the player character's team base in the first game.
Illusions for the Colecovision has level designs inspired by Escher.
Stauf's mansion in The 7th Guest goes all out with this trope, on top of the absurdity of his puzzles that he does not want you to solve. There's secret passages that not only lead a great distance from room to room (which can be a problem with the slow navigation system), but also make it look like you're shrinking to fit through them, and eject you in the most unlikely places.
Houses in The Floor is Jelly are built on stilts, and violently bounces about back and forth when the jelly-like ground underneath them shifts about.
Happens quite often in The Stanley Parable. It's not uncommon to see corridors and staircases that lead to nowhere, or being able to turn 90 degrees right five times in a row before coming to the next part of the corridor. Later sections become even worse with corridors that look far shorter than they are before you traverse them, doorways that lead to the doorway you just came from, and chunks of the area deliberately failing to load with texture. It gets so bad at one point that the narrator has to employ the help of The Stanley Parable Adventure Line™. The Line™ subsequently decides that the best path is to twist around itself to where it wasn't before, until the narrator decides to ignore The Line™. You then later run into The Line™ randomly bursting through the ceiling and are advised to ignore It™.
In Heroine's Quest: The Herald of Ragnarok, the svartalf village Nidavellir has Escheresque architecture, with parts of the city being upside down, furniture on the walls, and decorations incorporating endless stairs and a blivet. The locals take it all in stride, but the narrator keeps getting confused about which way is up.
Obsidian plays with this trope: 2/3 of the game environment is set in dream worlds, made real by nanobots generated from a satellite inspired by them. The first world is a cube-shaped office building where you're literally able to walk on the walls and ceiling, and the camera moves so that any face of the cube that you're standing on is upright.. As put by a Lets Player,
Doc Sigma: "A world that looks like it was designed by M.C. Escher and Frank Lloyd Wright, after doing some terrible, terrible drugs."
The Matrix Path Of Neo has a jumbled buildings/bigger on the inside maze of doors, rooms and floating platforms of a mostly french or mideval style. If you go through the wrong one, you're suddenly walking on the 'under-side' of the staircase/room that you were just on.
The CCC series features some pretty strange, but cool looking architecture, that clearly mixes a Mexican/Latin American style with a impossibly high towers, futuristic buildings and crazy colours.
In one Happy Tree Friends episode, the characters work together to rebuild one character's house. Whether the original blueprints would have created a normal house is debatable, as while the house is being built, Lumpy folds the blueprints into an origami crane, inexplicably causing the building to be shaped like a giant origami crane that even moves. In any other series, this would be pretty awesome, but since it's this show, there are virtually no exits and dozens of death traps.
Pushmo has giant objects in the shape of Mario, a strawberry, a duck, and more.
Tiktoffen: "The door we came through — It never led here before!"
Here, Agatha has an impossible fork as a work tool.
City Under The Hill has the entire eponymous City of Bablyon based on this Trope. Buildings in Babylon aren't so much built as magicked into being, and in a pocket dimension they prove unstable. It's not uncommon for buildings, fences, or even walls on the outskirts of the City to simply phase out of existence.
Even before entering the Medium, the trolls' hives were bizarre constructs, since a troll designs and constructs his/her own hive (with the help of carpenter droids) right after exiting the caverns in their early youth. The design judgement of one-sweep olds is questionable, as Vriska laments at one point.
In Sluggy Freelance, the Demon King lives in a house on top of a giant pile of bones. While suitably menacing, you gotta figure bones make for a pretty unreliable foundation. There are also weird things that look like wisps of fire or smoke built into the house itself.
In The Mouse That Jack Built, a Warner Brothers short featuring mouse expies of Jack Benny and Mary Livingstone, Benny receives a flyer for the "Kit Kat Club", which is actually the family cat with little tables and chairs in its mouth. Benny thinks it is just a gimmick until the mouth starts to close, with them in it...
The Western Air Temples in Avatar: The Last Airbender are built upside down on the bottom face of a cliff. Perhaps not impossible, but certainly questionable. There are also examples of a temple built on the cracks of an active volcano, and a prison built of metal on a lake which somehow sits inside a volcano.
Almost every building in CatDog is a giant object — Catdog's fish/bone house, the bowling alley shaped like a bowling ball, the local taco joint shaped like a giant taco...
Castle Bodhran is this in the card game of Chaotic. Supposedly there are are doors below your feet, stairs ascend sideways and floors are seen where ceilings should be, but no matter where you stand, you’re always right side up. The card's flavour text even uses the trope name: This strange stronghold is built in a style that might be best called "bizzarechitecture."
Bebe Bluff Middle School in Doug. The name wasn't chosen until the first day of school, yet it's shaped like Bebe's head when seen from above and has a purple roof. It's pretty bizarre inside too. Hallways lead to nowhere, there are windows right up against another wall, and the door to one of the men's rooms leads to the auditorium stage.
An episode of Futurama features Fry and Bender looking for a new apartment. One of the ones they visit and reject is an M. C. Escher painting brought to life, with the various doors and passages acting like Scooby-Dooby Doors. Bender trips and falls down the M.C. Escher stairs, then up a different flight of stairs, then across another different flight of stairs...
In the stop-motion animated short film Head Over Heels, an old married couple lives in a house where each person's floor is the other one's ceiling.
Inhumanoids features a medieval castle inverted and attached to the ceiling of a cavern.
The Bueno Nacho restaurants on Kim Possible have sombrero roofs, and look positively mundane next to some of the things on this list. Also of note, deep-fried snack food king Pop-Pop Porter maintained a fleet of blimps in the shape of various snacks of his line. His favorite was shaped like a giant popcorn shrimp, but the corndog was more aerodynamic. There's also the giant cheese wheel, which is an actual building made of cheese, not a cheese-covered building as many people believe.
Phineas and Ferb: Doofenshmirtz Evil Incorporated is shaped like a wrench. Or Ferb's head, sort of.
Used in a one-off gag in The Simpsons episode "Grift of the Magi". Mr. Burns watches a short play in his office put on by students looking for school funding. Unconvinced, Burns opens a trapdoor underneath the students, but a few seconds later they fall through another trapdoor in the ceiling and land back in his office.
Mr. Burns: Oh, it's doing that thing again!
"Who lives in a pineapple under the sea? Spongebob Squarepants!" Some of the other characters live in giant objects too. Presumably, they were discarded or lost by humans and then used by resourceful sea creatures. Squidward lives in an Easter Island head, Mr. Krabs lives in an anchor, and Plankton lives in a bucket. The only home that's realistic for an aquatic invertebrate is Patrick's rock. Note that the objects are only "giant" in comparison to the little sea critters. Interestingly enough, Patrick's rock, despite being the most "normal-looking" on the outside, has some of the weirdest architecture on the inside. Sometimes, it's just a small flat space while Patrick clings to the underside of the rock (much like a real starfish). Other times, it's a shallow pit containing his furniture (bed, television, armchair, etc.). Sometimes, it's got all sorts of twisty passages leading away from it. And the rock itself? It always flips up on end, like it's on hinges.
The Teen Titans live in a giant T-shaped tower on an island in the middle of a bay. It was modified into an H when the Hive took over.
Sumdac Tower in Transformers Animated is inexplicably shaped like a giant sparkplug. How it remains standing is a mystery for the ages. Quite possibly because of the technology Sumdac reverse engineered from Megatron's head. No, really, that's why Earth has robots.
In the animated Addams Family, the intro has the house interior look just like the trope pic above. Plus it has plenty of rooms filled with monsters and death traps.
In Dogstar, Bob Santino's private satellite is shaped like a giant Robog (the robot dog he made his fortune manufacturing).
In the pilot of Code Monkeys, the office hallways were deadly video game levels and the characters treated it as a regular thing. Later episodes dropped this.
One episode of The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy shows that Endsville Elementary is built on a cliff overlooking a desert. This was probably only there for a one-time gag, as later episodes show that the school has a football field, which are typically built behind the school.
The Winchester Mystery House. You know something is messed up when there are Staircases that lead into the ceiling. There's also Over Nine Thousandnote No, seriously. windows. This is more than the Empire State Building. There's also a legion of hallways that criss-cross and go nowhere. Oh, and there are multiple doors with walls behind them, multiple doors that when you open them lead to absolutely nowhere and there's no floor. There's just a giant drop. And, to top it all off, there's a stair case that turns 7 times and is 150 feet long, all to just go up 9 feet.
Also, closets. One closet is exactly one inch deep, another closet is much bigger than a closet probably should be.
If that wasn't bad enough, it's said to be haunted, since Sarah Winchester, widow to gun magnate William Winchester, was told by a spirit medium that she must build a house to appease the ghosts of the people killed by her husband's rifles. She got together a construction crew and did just that, building 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, from 1884 to her death on September 5, 1922. At first, the house, though enormous, was built according to a well-thought-out and extremely extensive set of plans and blueprints. Then the plans ran out, but Sarah Winchester insisted that construction continue...
The posh name for giant object buildings is the Vernacular architectural style. Examples can be seen here, including the Donut Hole (a drive-through donut shop in the shape of a pair of giant donuts) and the famous Wigwam Motel.
Horton Plaza in San Diego, which doesn't really have stories, as different bits of what ought to be the same floor are at different levels.
Just by Frank Gehry:
The ugliest building on the MIT campus (which is saying something), the Stata Center.
The Walt Disney Concert Hall is less a building than a parabolic reflector dish aimed at the offices across the street, as well as some of the sidewalk, which it occasionally melts. It contains a pipe organ shaped like a logjam.
There's also the Ohr-O'Keefe Museum in Biloxi.◊ It's not finished yet, but what good can come out of four giant metal pods with cages on the top?
Gehry's own California home: before Gehry, a nice looking traditional two-story home. Now? Imagine an accumulation of sheds designed by toddlers which have collapsed against each other during a massive earthquake.
The Dancing House in Prague, designed by Czech architect Vlado Miluni? with a little help from Frank Gehry.
Orlando, Florida's "Wonderworks," which is built to resemble a stately museum... lifted off its foundations and turned-upside-down.
In Australia, the Sydney Opera House, and some of the Big Things, although not all of them are buildings.
Comedian Ross Noble has been stopping at these in Ross Noble's Australian Trip, including pretending that a giant oyster shaped car showroom is his Supervillain Lair; "Welcome to my oyster domain!"
Bill Bryson stopped at the Giant Lobster in his Australian travelogue, and has a conversation with an enthusiast about the others around the country, especially a giant anatomically correct bull; "Beware of Falling Bullock's Bollocks!"
Rejected Real Life example: The V&A Spiral. London had a narrow escape there.
The (in)famous Happy RIZZI House◊ at the edge of the Magniviertel of the city of Brunswick (Braunschweig), Germany. The monstrosity was perpetrated by the American Pop-art commercial artist James Rizzi who designed it and the German architect who built the house, and somehow the officials were pressured or bribed to go along with it, despite everyone else hating it. The house's right at the edge of what was once the center of the medieval town, right next to some traditional timber-framed houses and the St. Magni church that survived World War II. It was supposed to look similar to the famous Hundertwasser House in Vienna, but where the Hundertwasser House is playful and colorful with gentle organic lines, the RIZZI House is just... just... stupid. Like a cartoon house in a kindergarten. It's neither functional nor aesthetic. Actually trying to work in there must be a nightmare. Worse, it's now right between the old church on one side and the newly reconstructed classicistic facade of the Braunschweiger Residenzschloss◊, first built in 1718, rebuilt in 1830 after a fire, heavily damaged in World War II, demolished and rebuilt as a shopping center in 2007.
Nearly all of the structures of Santiago Calatrava, the architect who designed this building, would be at home in this category.
In fact, just about any art museum built within the past couple of decades, at least in the U.S., will be of a rather unusual design, ranging from fanciful to paint-eatingly insane. Especially if it's a museum of modern art. Ironically, the M.C. Escher Museum in the Netherlands is quite normal looking.
Appropriately enough, the Ted Geisel Library◊ at the University of California San Diego, which looks like a cross between something from one of Seuss' books, and the spaceship from Close Encounters of the Third Kind. It sits within a pit lined by jagged mirrors positioned at such an angle as to give the basements natural lighting.
Toronto (Canada) has the Ontario College of Art and Design building (most of the classrooms are in a black and white cube floating eight stories in the air and propped by struts that look way to skinny to do the job) and the new wing of the Royal Ontario Museum, which looks like a Victorian building in the process of being overrun by Tiberium crystals. Oddly enough, both are additions on perfectly normal buildings. There's also Robarts Library at the University of Toronto, a building done in the 'brutalist' style of architecture... which also has the misfortune of looking like a very large concrete peacock or turkey◊ when viewed from the front.
The Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí built some very different but beautiful examples of gothic architecture, getting his inspiration from organic shapes. The best known is the Sagrada Familia, but one has to wonder about the people who lived at La Pedrera/Casa Milŕ or Casa Batlló?
The Fine Arts Center at UMass Amherst is supposed to look like a piano from above. From normal perspective, it's just a weird looking building. It says something when one internal classroom is so hard to find that it has to be approached from another part of the building, utilizing both up and down staircases to reach while touring the backstage area of the main theater.
Several of the buildings on the Sussex University campus are built in deliberate shapes, visible from above. For example, the library looks like an open book and another building is said to look like a cat.
Quite a few of the Ripley's Believe It Or Not museums are built with bizarre architecture. The one in Myrtle Beach, SC looks like it's been hit by a hurricane, the one in Panama City beach, FL looks like a cruise ship that's run aground, and the one in Atlantic City, NJ looks like it was decorated by a giant globe that fell off its hook and cracked the awning over the entrance. See more information on the Other Wiki.
Supposedly, it's supposed to look like the Rocky Mountains, which... is sort of true, in an abstract sort of way. Other notable bizarre buildings in Colorado are the Coney Island Hot Dog Stand (shaped like a hotdog) and the Fredrich C. Hamilton building at the Denver Art Museum (which is very...pointy).
Colorado also has the Student Services building at Colorado State University. The legend around it is that the architect was insane, and intended to entomb himself inside the building. There's no confirmation on that, but even then, the hallways get narrow enough you can't get furniture in (unless it's through the windows) and it's extremely hard to get stuff into the higher floors due to the cramped stairways. Not to mention, people ahve said that you can walk down a hallway and wind up on the second floor without going to the stairs at all.
The House on the Rock.
The "Victor Hugo House" in Saint Peter Port, the capital of the island of Guernsey, where Victor Hugo spent the years of his exile from Napoleon Bonaparte's France. The house is tall, narrow, rambling, dark and oppressive, with secret passages and mirrors and optical illusions that the author of Les Misérables was so fond of. The view from the balcony/sun terrace on the roof is nice, though. Because it means you don't have to look at the house.
The Big Apple in Cobourg, Ontario. There's not really much in it, just exhibits on apples and stairs to the top. The main building (which is not shaped like anything weird, unfortunately) has pictures of other giant object buildings.
They make pretty good apple crumble pies though.
Tempe City Hall in Arizona. Interestingly, this is not the only building in the vicinity of Phoenix shaped like an upside-down pyramid.
In the upside-down pyramid category: St. Petersburg, Florida's "Pier."
Altgeld Hall at the University of Illinois. Home of the Mathematics department, a running joke on campus is that you need to be a math major to figure out where your class is. It started out fairly normal, but was later given four additions, none of which had floor levels aligning with each other. The official floor plan shows 14 actual levels on three nominal floors, not including the basement, bell tower, or library stacks, but including the classroom with its door built in the middle of a long ramp, and the post office.
The Burrowes Building at Penn State is similar. Because of the way it's built into the sloping campus (there's a reason it's called "Happy Valley", after all), the first floor, which starts underground, rises into the second floor and then lowers again. Every story does the same. Thankfully it's mostly an administration building...
The Cube Houses in Rotterdam. They look stranger than they sound.
The Cornett building on the University of Victoria campus was supposed to house the psychology department and be modeled after the human brain. It has staircases that don't go anywhere and far too much basement than a building that size should.
Sheffield Hallam University student's union, the former National Centre for Popular Music. Seemingly designed to look like four curling stones.
The Giant Artichoke, a restaurant in Gilroy, California, artichoke-growing capital of the world. Looks just the way you'd expect.
Some Hard Rock Cafe locations have unusual architecture.
There have been two Cafes in Orlando, FL, next to Universal Studios. The original, opened in 1990, was not unusual in and of itself, but sat upon a platform that was designed to look like an electric guitar laying flat on the ground. The current Cafe building, located about a quarter of a mile away, is modeled in part after the Coliseum in Rome.
The Hard Rock Cafe in Myrtle Beach, SC is a pyramid with an Egyptian theme inside and out.
Before it went out of business in 1997, the Best Products catalog store chain was known for the ... odd ... architecture of several of its branches, born of a long relationship with an innovative architectural firm.
Its Houston, TX store had a facade that looked it was crumbling in the wake of an earthquake or other destructive force.
A store in Richmond, VA looked like its facade was peeling off.
Another in Richmond looked like it had been abandoned and open to the elements for decades, and had a small forest growing in it.
The store in Sacramento, CA looked like an earthquake had broken it diagonally and shifted part of it to the side.
A New Jersey store was designed to look like two store buildings, one stacked on top of the other and twisted at a slight angle.
Other stores included a giant terrarium, a store that looked it had been lifted by one corner and put back down crooked, another where the facade had been "broken" into several pieces and "pulled out" in front of the building proper, and one where an entire corner of the building would actually physically "break free" and roll away to reveal its entrance.
A short documentary on the Best architecture can be found here.
The Tianzi Hotel in Langfang, China is designed in the image of three Chinese gods. It goes without saying that the deities are fittingly huge, measuring 10 stories high.
Speaking of China, Beijing has a few odd-looking landmarks itself, including the Bird's Nest stadium (designed for the 2008 Olympics) and the CCTV headquarters, which looks like it might collapse at any minute.
He's also responsible for the street plan of Brasilia, which is probably the only city on Earth designed to look like a giant airplane when seen from the air.
Actually having Brasilia look like an airplane from above was Lucio Costa's idea and it was preferred over several other plans by different people.
Located in Espoo, Finland, Dipoli◊, a convention center owned by the Helsinki University Technology, is often jokingly referred as being non-euclidian. The building has a very irregular shape and extremely few right angles (even the roof is slightly tilted).
The Dipoli has proven to be more or less a White Elephant to Helsinki University of Technology. It has proven to be too much Style Over Substance and extremely difficult to use.
In Ottawa, in Canada, the Museum of Civilization is built in a manner that has no right angles. It actually has more space than you'd expect. The same architect (or possibly a copycat) also designed the York Region Regional Government building in Newmarket, Ontario, Canada. It is apparently a real pain, as it functions as an office building, and none of the offices are regular.
The National Conference Center in Virginia, built in the mid-70's by Xerox, has an odd terraced layout that's apparently even weirder on the inside. Legend has it that the complex was designed to be confusing on purpose to promote team-building among lost employees.
Any time you repurpose a building, you face the possibility that rooms turned to new uses will be odd compared to what you'd normally expect for that kind of use. It gets worse when you significantly remodel to try and make rooms fit their intended use. Just outside uptown Charlotte is the Central High building. It was a high school built in the fifties, and it looks like it. It is now part of the community college, and it was remodeled, as the needs of a community college today differ greatly from a high school in the fifties. It has some classrooms, but needs significantly more office space. From a hallway, you can go into a cramped office with a door in the back corner. The door opens onto a narrow staircase made narrower by lots of shelving overflowing with... stuff. It gets more open at a landing, but that doesn't help as the staircase ends in a blank wall. The building has several staircases to nowhere, and odd dimensions in several areas.
The Crazy House Hotel in Dalat, Vietnam. Designed by famously eccentric Vietnamese architect Hang Nga, it's a mishmash of fairy tale and surrealist elements, including giant animals coming out of the walls, ten foot tall mushrooms, and staircases that go nowhere - and a working hotel.
The Inntel Hotel◊ in Zaandam, Netherlands, which is currently being built, looks like a bunch of Dutch houses piled up.
Usen Castle at Brandeis University has stairways and hallways that lead nowhere. Supposedly this is because it was based on a European castle a beneficiary fell in love with and wished to recreate. Since he wasn't allowed inside, he drew pictures of the outside and then the inside had to be extrapolated.
Körner's Folly, dubbed by some to be the "strangest home in the world", looks fairly normal from the outside. The inside almost defies description. Three stories are divided into seven different functioning levels, and rooms range from ones with grand high 25-foot ceilings to 5-foot rooms scaled down for a child. There are hallways that go nowhere, trap doors, murals, and a fully-operational performance theater in the attic. Jule Körner was a bit eccentric, indeed.
Bishop Castle- built by one guy over the last 40 years or so, and he just keeps on adding to it.
Montreal's Habitat 67. Imagine piling up a bunch of cardboard boxes any which way until it forms a mound-like shape. Imagine someone decided this was the future of architecture and made it happen for real. It looks as strange as it sounds, but it's also one of the most sought-after residential complexes in the city.
The Michigan League at the University of Michigan. It looks normal enough on the outside, but on the inside it's full of convoluted staircases and hallways that branch off in unusual directions.
Ramot Polin, a suburb of Jerusalem. The buildings there are universally weird: resembling honeycombs or egg cartons on their sides from the outside, the rooms inside are laid out in any shape but cubical. When you have a bedroom shaped like a dodecahedron, where do you put the bed?
Urban supermarkets, by virtue of sometimes having to be crammed into rather small buildings, can often take on very strange shapes; an extremish case is the Whole Foods near Symphony Hall in Boston, which is wedged into the bottom floor of a parking garage and is more or less crescent-shaped. The aisles don't really track, so despite the fact that it's a relatively small store, it's very easy to get lost in.
Speaking of Boston, there's the City Hall◊. Perhaps not quite as bizarre as some other buildings on this list, but you can't quite shake off the impression that they built it upside-down.
The Gate Tower Building in Osaka, Japan, which has the Hanshin Expressway going right through it. It is sufficiently cushioned and soundproofed so the workers inside don't really notice the noise and vibrations from passing cars.
Probably innumerable mundane examples. For example, a hotel in London (name unremembered) in what had been a series of row houses. They had bought out the houses on either side and incorporated them, but the floors did not line up, so to get to your room you might have to go right up a half flight of stairs, left down a hallway, then left again down 3 steps. And so on. Combined with the fact that all the hallways were narrow and short, so that there was very little line-of-sight, made traversing it a very disorienting proposal.
Something similar occurs in the South Houses at Caltech, but they were made that way by the architect. There are many rooms on fractional floors, and navigating the place is rather disorienting for someone who hasn't lived there before.