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Fryscrapers, robots, climbing babies: These are the world’s most bizarre buildings

Whether you call them an eyesore or an icon, these buildings make a city’s skyline instantly recognisable, and are the cause of much debate from locals and visitors alike. Some may not look very unusual from a distance, but close up reveals some unusual features.

Tianzi Hotel, Sanhe, China

There’s no missing this most oddly-shaped hotel in China’s eastern Hebei province, which depicts the Chinese gods of good fortune, prosperity and longevity, Fu, Lu and Shou. This ten storey hotel was built in 2001 and became an instant Guinness World Record winner as the biggest image building in the world. We’re not sure how it rates on the inside, however.

The ‘Walkie Talkie’, 20 Fenchurch Street, London

Gee, the Brits really hate this quirky building, voting it the ugliest and most hated in Building Design Magazine. The structure not only drew media attention from its shape, but it has since become renown for laser-like its sun glare. Acting as a concave mirror, it focuses light onto the street below, damaging parked cars and affected areas. Londoners nicknamed the building ‘Walkie Scorchie’ or our personal favourite – ‘Fryscraper’.

An interview with the building’s architect, Rafael Vinoly, suggested that global warming was to blame – “When I first came to London years ago, it wasn’t like this…Now you have all these sunny days.” Its SkyGarden is now a major tourist attraction, with phenomenal views over London.

The Elephant Building, Bangkok

Dubbed the ‘world’s largest elephant,’ this is one of the most talked about structures in Bangkok, complete with eyes and tusks – a nod to the creature’s importance in Thailand. Rather less interestingly, it consists of nothing more than a few office towers and residential suites.

Zizkov Telelvision Tower, Prague

Built between 1985 and 1992, the tower is a communist-era building resented by suspicious locals who were convinced it existed to jam incoming western radio and television transmissions. It’s protruding needle is also widely despised for the jarring effect it has on the Prague skyline. Visitors, however, an enjoy unparalleled views of Prague from the peak.

It’s history and size is one thing, but its most distinguishing feature has to be the strange babies climbing up its pillars; scultpure work by Czech artist David Černý.

Coit Tower, San  Francisco

Many San Franciscans thought it was an eyesore when it was built in 1933. Some still do. The 64-metre reinforced concrete tower was funded by an eccentric, wealthy socialite named Lillie Hitchcock Coit. The tower was reportedly meant to represent a firehose nozzle, as she was a patron of the fire department. Whatever you think it looks like, you can go and pay eight bucks to go inside, catch the elevator to the observation deck and get one of the best panoramic views of the city.

Lippo Centre, Hong Kong

This distinctive set of twin towers in a city of many other daunting skyscrapers is supposed to bear resemblance to koalas clinging to a tree; but unfortunately for the residents, these c-shaped extrusions also give the building bad feng shui. Its design was intended to give the building presence when observed from any distance. Previously known as the Bond Centre, it has more than one n connection – Alan Bond once invested in the building four years prior to going bankrupt.

Robot Building, Bangkok

Taking inspiration from his son’s toy robot, the architect, Sumet Jumsai, designed this staggering building for the Bank of Asia to reflect the computerisation of the industry and its robotic appearance has a functional aspect also – its antennas, for example, are used for communications and lightening rods, and its eyes are supposed to wink at night. Its unique design has awarded it one of the 50 seminal buildings of the century by the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles. Jumsai is also the architect behind the Elephant Building.

Central China TV headquarters, Beijing  

The Chinese have monikered this building ‘big boxer shorts’, with one critic of the building suggesting it was modelled after a pornographic image of a woman on her hands and knees. The designers deny this, claiming it is a reinvention of a skyscraper as a loop.

Longaberger Basket Company headquarters, Newark, Ohio

This wacky basket case of a company manufacture handcrafted maple wood baskets and their headquarters in Ohio represents the ‘finest in novelty architecture’. The basket is the shape of it’s biggest selling basket –  the ‘medium market basket’, with ‘handles’ that weight almost 150 tonnes. The owner wanted all of the company’s buildings to be shaped like baskets, but only the headquarters were completed at the time of his death, putting an immediate stop to this crazy plan.

The Ryugyong Hotel, North Korea

The largest structure in Pyongyang and indeed North Korea is often been referred to as ‘the worst building in the history of mankind’. Former leader Kim Jong-II ordered the construction of the 105 storey building in 1987, but due to the country’s lack of funds it has repeatedly been stalled, leaving the pyramid-shaped eyesore empty and earning it the nickname ‘Hotel of Doom’ or ‘Phantom Hotel’. The top floor does, however, boast terrific views of the city from its 59th floor viewing platform.

Aldar headquarters, Abu Dhabi

This distinctive building has been voted ‘best futuristic design’, and is the first circular skyscraper in the world.

Umeda Sky Building, Osaka 

As the 19th highest building in Osaka, the Umeda Sky is one of the most recognisable, with a bridges and an escalator connecting the towers at their two uppermost floors. It contains a rooftop ‘Floating Garden Observatory’.

What’s the most bizarre building you’ve visited?

See also: 20 things that will shock first time visitors to Thailand

See also: Why is the land of the idiot

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