For most of us, it’s enough to be able to lay claim to four walls and a roof that you can call your very own. A house built on the safety of solid ground isn’t enough for some adventurous home owners. These people (who seem to all have a massive budget in common) prefer to live somewhere unconventional, in a dwelling that simply laughs off the laws of gravity and the rules of physics. These homeowners pay good money for the privilege of calling their domicile truly unique. It takes a keen architectural eye, a whole lot of steel, and a little bit of faith, but there have been some wondrous creations inspired by those people daring enough to do something a little different.
1. Wozoco Apartments
Talk about making lemonade. When architects in the Netherlands discovered a mistake in the original blueprints for their planned apartment building, an architectural marvel was born. See, in Amsterdam, the government mandates that all residents of an apartment have access to a certain amount of sun. Unfortunately, MVRDV architects totally spaced that rule when planning Wozoco Apartments. When they discovered their error, they simply hung a chunk of the building off the north face, a stylish solution that meets public standards and appears to defy gravity.
2. Free Spirit Spheres
For anyone who wants to make a go of living in the middle of nowhere, a Free Spirit Sphere is a good place to start. These mobile homes are built in British Columbia and are available to anyone with the income and a sturdy place to hang their own home-bubble.
3. Mushroom House
The pastime of an architecture professor working for the University of Cincinnati, the Mushroom House looks mostly like the result of Jerry Garcia’s most fevered dream sprung into the real world (only with fewer Marlboro Reds). The Mushroom House is a unique endeavor that’s actually been valued at nearly half a million dollars.
4. The Log House
An homage to the idea of insurmountable tenacity (and maybe domestic boredom), the Log House is a Russian icon sitting outside the town of Archangelsk. Purchased by Russian lumber baron (and convicted gangster) Nikolai Sutyagin, the Log House became the entrepreneur’s ongoing hobby. He used his largess (and vast lumber reserves) to build add-ons to the home that kept climbing toward the sky. Eventually, the Log House reached a shocking 144 feet tall.
5. Heliotrope Rotating House
Yes, this house does rotate, but it’s not exactly a constant spin. The idea from German architect Rolf Disch is designed to make the most of the sunlight during the winter and summer. Entirely solar powered, the Heliotrope Rotating House spins to catch the rays most efficiently throughout the year.
6. The Floating Castle
This spooky home in the Ukraine has a muddled history. The common theory is that the home — which is supported by a single steel cantilever — was once used to house mineral fertilizers. That’s probably one hundred percent true, but the Floating Castle’s total lack of an origin story and an absence of information about the architect have created a mythos about this disused Ukrainian home.
7. Single Hauz
Any single person who wants to relish living by themselves (and just themselves) should look in the Single Hauz by architectural firm Frontarchitects. The mini home is based on the concept of an urban billboard and designed to be just the right amount of space for the minimalist urban single with ten square feet of land.
8. Habitat 67
Montreal’s world-famous apartment building is instantly recognizable for its seemingly scattershot design. In fact, the architectural achievement is meticulously designed to give each apartment the maximum amount of space. In fact, every unit has their own separate patio.
9. Pod House
These vaulted homes might look like they were inspired by The Jetsons (and you could never convince me otherwise), they were, in fact, supposedly inspired by Queen Anne’s Lace, the weed that’s so common in the Northeast.
10. Villa Kogelhof
Another environmentally-minded architectural undertaking, Villa Kogelhof in the Netherlands was designed to be entirely energy neutral, meaning that it produces just as much energy as it consumes. The fact that it’s stunningly beautiful is just icing on the green cake.
11. Korowai Tree Houses
You don’t need a degree in architecture to build inspiring homes. Just check out the Korowai Tree Houses of Papua, New Guinea. Or don’t. The Korowai are the last known functioning tribe of cannibals. These enterprising indigenous people have created tree houses in the forest canopy that sit as high as 140 feet in the air. These seemingly shaky dwellings can house as many as 12 people and animals. This is done to avoid local insects and remain somewhat hidden — the tactic worked, too, as the Korowai remained undiscovered until the 1970s.
12. Cliff House
An Australian architectural company is still looking for the right homeowner willing to take on the Cliff House, a concept design that’s meant to give the impression of floating in a vast expanse of space. Owners can drive right off a cliff into the top story garage, and then descend into the lower levels of the house. Affixed to the side of a convenient cliff, the Cliff House is about as close as it gets to living above the ground.
Built in 1969 by Architect Harry Weese, Shadowcliff is situated in a small town in rural Wisconsin. The splendidly-designed glass box is suspended over scenic Lake Ellison, providing breathtaking views of the countryside.
14. The Balancing Barn
Panoramic views of the English countryside were the inspiration for the silver-plated Balancing Barn. Nestled at the edge of an English nature reserve, the Balancing Barn serves as a hotel for those looking to take in the sights while visiting the UK. It sleeps 8 people.