Office buildings needn’t always be drab and uninspiring concrete blocks. Sometimes, just sometimes, a building with of a more surprising design can be spotted amongst the architectural conformity of a town or city. Here are some unusual office buildings that have truly broken the mould.
1. ING House, Amsterdam, Holland (2002); architects Meyer & Van Schooten
Nicknamed the shoe or the dustbuster, the ING building has a slight bug-like look to it thanks to its many legs. The building is constructed like a table, with its sixteen legs resting on pins in the ground in large concrete blocks, each leg independent from the other. This makes the construction also very similar to bridges.
2. Tančící Dům (trans. ‘The Dancing House’), Prague, Czech Republic (1996); architects Vlado Milunić &Frank Gehry
Upon opening, the Dancing House attracted some criticism as it jarred against the rest of Prague’s Baroque and Gothic buildings. Nowadays, the Dancing House is considered a contemporary classic which stands out from the rest. The top floor of this building is a restaurant, while the rest of the floors are office spaces.
3. Nakagin Capsule Tower, Tokyo, Japan (1972); architect Kisho Kurokawa
A building which has replaceable ‘units’, meaning that entire chunks can be taken out and updated whenever necessary. The building’s construction finished in 1972, but it is still as unusual and beautiful as ever.
Nakagin Capsule Tower is a mixed-use business and residential building nowadays, although the original intention was to use it purely as residential space for bachelors.
4. Manchester Civil Justice Centre, Manchester, England (2007); architect Denton Corker Marshall
OK, the Manchester Civil Justice Centre’s not exactly an office, but people surely work in rooms on site that can be deemed ‘offices’. Plus, the building really does look quite amazing and is a great example of Australian-style, Futurist/Expressionist architecture done in England. The building has been short-listed for many awards, and is praised for its green credentials.
5. 30 St. Mary Axe aka The Gherkin, London, England (2003); architect Foster & Partners
No list of unusual buildings would be complete without one that can be seen amongst London’s skyline from miles away. A quirky, somewhat phallic, building that still attracts both awe and criticism to this day.
6. Lloyd’s Building, London, England (1986); architect Richard Rogers
Close to The Gherkin is another unusual building often dubbed the ‘inside-out’ building. The Lloyd’s Building is the youngest in England to have been given a Grade I listing by English Heritage, and the eleventh floor houses the Committee Room, a floor that was transferred and replicated piece-by-piece from the previous Lloyd’s Building.
7. The Robot Building, Bangkok, Thailand (1986); architect Sumet Jumsai
There’s no doubt that financial districts tend to attract some strange ideas for architecture, and the Robot Building is no exception. This building is meant to represent the increasing dominance of computers in finance, and seems to have done so quite effectively.
8. Office Centre 1000 aka Banknote Building, Kaunas, Lithuania (2008); architects Rimas Adomaitis, Raiamundas Babrauskas, Darius Siaurodinas & Virgilijus Jocys
The image on this building comes from the use of a special enamel paint, which gives the building’s design a genuine, ‘printed-on’ look. Of course, the building itself cannot be used as currency – the note used in its design is from 1925 anyway.
9. The Puerta de Europa Towers aka Gate of Europe aka KIO Towers, Madrid, Spain (1996); architects Philip Johnson & John Burgee
The world’s first leaning high-rise office buildings, and Johnson and Burgee’s last project together as the two would part ways before construction finished. Still a striking building, made even more impressive by the fact that helicopters can land on either tower without any problems to do with the buildings’ inclination.
10. Krzywy Domek (trans. ‘The Crooked House’), Sopot, Poland (2003); architects Szotyńscy & Zaleski
Regarded by many as being the most unusually-designed building in the world, the Crooked House never ceases to amaze with its fairytale, Through-the-Looking-Glass like shape. Conveniently enough, the building’s design was inspired by the artist and children’s book illustrator Jan Marcin Szancer and painter Per Dahlberg, a local Sopot artist.