11 Coolest Buildings in the World

11 Coolest Buildings in the World

Forget height. If being tall was an accomplishment, people would be calling Abe Lincoln a great president … er, never mind. The world’s coolest buildings stand testimony to the spirit of human creativity -- and the flexibility of bricks. Say hello to the 11 coolest construction projects on the planet.

11 Coolest Buildings in the World
Le Palais Ideal (France)

This opulent edifice was not built by a renowned architect, but by a mad mailman named Ferdinand Cheval (1836-1924). One day in 1879 he tripped over a rock along his daily route and decided to build the castle of his dreams on that spot. It only took 33 years of gathering 40 pounds of rock each night to single-handedly construct a full-sized castle that was immediately praised as a work of genius. The castle is now a popular attraction. But where’s the mailbox?

11 Coolest Buildings in the World
The Basket Building (Newark, Ohio)

When Dave Longaberger wanted an office building that looked like his basket company’s best-selling product, his wish was woven into this glorious 1997 result. Longaberger has also built a basket house, but nothing compares to the home of The Longaberger Company. Sadly, the same idea never occurred to the folks at Wonderbra.

11 Coolest Buildings in the World
Cubic Houses (Rotterdam, Netherlands)

Cubic houses -- literally square housing units -- became all the rage in Holland in the in the 1970s. That’s why the good burghers of Rotterdam asked architect Piet Blom to build some cubic houses. But to make it interesting, they asked him to build them on a pedestrian bridge. The Dutch clearly aren’t fond of pedestrians.

11 Coolest Buildings in the World
Dancing Buildings (Prague, Czech Republic)

These two funky buildings are supposed to look like a dancing couple. Built in 1992 during the days of funky poet-president Vaclav Havel, the project was controversial -- but Havel lived next door and loved it. The building was originally named Fred and Ginger, but its most common nickname is the Drunk House. You can’t live there -- it’s all office space -- but you can eat at the French restaurant at hair level.

11 Coolest Buildings in the World
Stone House (Guimarães, Portugal)

Constructed between two giant stones and linked with a concrete mix, this private residence set in Portugal’s remote Fafe mountains draws thousands of tourists per year. The residents are said to live between a rock and a hard place. (Oh, yes, we did.)

11 Coolest Buildings in the World
Air Force Academy Chapel (Colorado)

This chapel gets its point across. Actually, it has 17 points in the form of dramatic spires. Built in 1962 at the U.S. Air Force Academy, it was designed by renowned architect Walter Netsch and is now considered the epitome of modernist architecture. No matter your faith, you’re welcome to worship here … if you can get past the armed guards at the campus gates.

11 Coolest Buildings in the World
Fuji Television Building (Tokyo, Japan)

Built in 1996, it is said that neither earthquake nor Godzilla can bring this building down. Fuji’s innovative design links an office building and a media tower with three pedestrian bridges. And the reception? It’s fantastic.

11 Coolest Buildings in the World
Blur Building (Yverdon-les-Bainz, Switzerland)

Built for the Swiss Expo in 2002, this steamy structure is based on ideas of Buckminster Fuller. Thirteen thousand fog nozzles produce a continuous self-generating mist that creates the illusion that the structure is floating over the water. We wonder if people towel off after meetings in the conference room.

Photo: www.dsrny.com

11 Coolest Buildings in the World
Edificio Mirador (Madrid, Spain)

This apartment complex was put together in 2004 like a Lego log cabin with a hole in the middle. At the base of the hole -- 37 meters above the ground -- is a garden lookout. Each colored block has a different kind of apartment in it -- presumably occupied by a kindergarten student.

11 Coolest Buildings in the World
Nautilus House (Mexico City, Mexico)

With a shape inspired by a nautilus shell, this house is put together with a frame of steel-reinforced chicken wire and two-inch-thick concrete -- making the structure earthquake-proof and maintenance-free. All over Mexico, snails line up for loan applications.

11 Coolest Buildings in the World
Igloo (Alaska)

Yes, this is a real igloo made of real ice and snow, which is why it’s so cool -- actually, freezing. It was a hotel; but it is shown here closed because, soon after this photo was taken, it was razed to the ground when Mother Nature raised the outdoor thermostat above 32 F.

Jay Gissen has been a writer, editor and publishing executive for over 20 years. He has worked at Forbes, Us Weekly and OK! magazine, as well as News Corp.

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