If you doubt people would put a ton of energy into making their house super weird, you clearly don’t know people at all. When there’s something we can waste time on and make unnecessarily complicated, we do it. As a result, there’s an array of strange houses out there that are fascinating, beautiful, and sometimes super dumb.
Half House, Toronto
If you have really low self-esteem, you might want to live in Toronto’s Half House. Once upon a time in the 1890s, this house was one of six identical units. By the ’50s, developers purchased most of the homes on the street, but the owner of 54½ Saint Patrick Street wasn’t having it. He refused to sell, so the developers knocked down everything around him.
Though the owners of the land around the half house were probably not pleased with this Up-like situation, they were surprisingly careful when tearing the other buildings down. The outer wall of the half house used to be the interior load-bearing wall. If the workers would have been a little more loose with their wrecking balls, the whole thing would have certainly collapsed. But the owner’s stubbornness prevailed.
The house still has an owner, though it’s empty now. Hopefully, someone who wants a home but doesn’t want the responsibility of a full floor will come along and occupy it.
Heliodome Strasbourg, France
"Welcome to the Heliodome. Get ready to die!" That’s what you’d expect to hear upon entering a building with as dramatic a name as Heliodome. But it’s no Thunderdome, so as many people can enter and leave as they want. Still, the house is pretty strange looking.
Kind of like a diamond shaped UFO, the house in Strasbourg, France is designed to get maximum power from the Sun. The angle of the house is placed specifically to keep it cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Sure, it might seem like you’re living in Leonardo DiCaprio’s totem from Inception, but your electric bills will be a dream.
Airplane House, Nigeria
The shape of love isn’t a heart, it’s a plane.
Liza Jammal asked her husband Said to build her a house in the shape of an airplane because she loved traveling. And the airplane is apparently her favorite part of traveling, which should get her free tickets on United for life. Anyway, Said was happy to build such a home for them in Abuja, Nigeria. Well, he was happy to do it 20 years after she asked.
In 2002, Said Jammal started building the plane house himself. He insisted on doing it all on his own, so it was slow going. But people all around can now marvel at the nice house that looks like someone dropped a plane on top of it. Also, Said’s motives weren’t entirely pure. "Let me build the airplane so that I can keep her in all the time," he said. How sweet. Trying to trap your wife in the hobby she loves
Coral Castle, Florida
The Coral Castle is an ongoing mystery house. Ed Leedskalnin’s fiancée left him on his wedding night, and like most jilted lovers, he moved to Florida, and began building a castle from slabs of rock in her honor. He started in the ’40s and kept at it for 28 years. By the end, he’d fashioned a straight-up castle with a 40-foot obelisk, a sculpture garden, and a 9-ton gate that could be swung open with ease. How Leedskalnin managed to do this all himself with no modern construction equipment is what’s piqued visitors interest for years.
Leedskalnin worked alone and only at night. No one ever saw how he built any of it. When asked, he said he was using the technique Egyptians used to build the pyramids, but he refused to elaborate. Rumors started the Leedskalnin was magical or used magnetic currents to create his masterpiece.
In 1986, after Leedskalnin’s death, the heavy gate broke. It took six men and a crane to fix it, but it broke again and remains unfixed today. The house even sat through Hurricane Andrew completely unscathed. Perhaps love held the castle together? Oh wait, no way. She dumped him. So, just magic then.
World’s Largest Treehouse, Tennessee
When you hear "World’s largest treehouse" it sounds like faint praise. But this isn’t some kids’ hideaway in the backyard. This house is amazing. It’s supported by six trees, has 80 rooms, a church, and a basketball hoop. Horace Burgess, a minister, built the house himself over the course of 14 years for only $12,000. Why bother building such a huge tree home? Well, God told him to. That’s a pretty hard guy to say no to, so Burgess built his immaculate masterpiece.
The house attracted visitors for years. Turns out everybody wants to play basketball in a tree canopy. But the fun ended in 2012, when the house was closed off due to fire code violations. Guess the Tennessee Building and Safety department didn’t get God’s memo.
Giant seashell house, Mexico
If you’ve always wanted to start a new life under the sea, but have pesky, human, non–water-breathing lungs, you may finally have an option. Javier Senosiain built a giant seashell house in Mexico City in 2006. The house is all spirals and smooth surfaces, so you really get that authentic seashell feel inside and out.
Also, the windows are made of colorful mosaics of glass. That really has nothing to do with shells, but it does look pretty cool.
Plastic bottle house, Argentina
You never stop hearing about how horrible plastic bottles are for the environment, and though that’s true, in Argentina, they found a way to put them to good use. Alfredo Santa Cruz built a home out of discarded plastic bottles and other trash. Ever wanted to see what a sofa made out of Coke cans and old CD cases feels like? Head down to Argentina because even all the furniture in this home is 100-percent garbage.
The house really is a marvel, mostly for not looking like a frat house after a party. The construction is very beautiful, with the products ingeniously arranged in a way to be both practical and pretty. Tours are allowed in the bottle house, so you can see firsthand the limitless potential of trash.
Quetzalcoatl’s Nest, Mexico
Javier Senosiain does it again. Not content to just have a couple people live in a seashell, he took it up a notch. In Mexico, he created Quetzalcoatl’s Nest, an apartment complex that looks like a giant snake.
Up among the hills and caves of Naucalpan, the snake twists its way through the land to give people a one of a kind living experience. Do you get to walk through a snake’s mouth to get to your apartment? Well, you could. One of the apartments is a current AirBnB, so you could live right in the snake’s belly and live to tell the tale.
Smith Mansion, Wyoming
In the middle of isolated Wapiti Valley, Wyoming, sits Smith Mansion. Lee Smith built the intricate wooden home himself, though it started on a much smaller scale. He built a fairly normal home for his wife and kids, but once he was done, he felt like adding more. So, he kept going, adding floors, random balconies, and unnecessary additions all with logs he collected in the valley.
Smith’s building obsession led to a divorce. Instead of learning his lesson and trying to win his family back, he devoted even more time to crazy home building. He added on winding external staircases, new levels, new terraces, until he fell to his death while working on the roof alone.
Since then, the mansion has stayed empty, an abandoned monument to one man’s frenzied obsession.
Mushroom House, Cincinnati
At the end of the block on a very average street in Cincinnati stands the mushroom house. It’s not a drug haven but a home that looks a whole lot like the fungus.
In 1992, Terry Brown was tired of his boring old bungalow and wanted to make something that would look more appropriate in a weird adaptation of Alice in Wonderland. Adding shingles and such to the already existing one-bedroom home, Brown worked for 14 years to create his twisted fairy tale vision. He got a chance to enjoy his work for two years before he died in 2008. The house was put up for sale in 2012, but the listing was removed the same year, so who knows who’s enjoying living the mushroom life today?
Bokod floating houses, Hungary
If lakeside isn’t good enough for you, you can finally live physically, literally on the water. These stilt houses on Lake Bokodi, Hungary, make for stunning pictures. Most people don’t live there year round, but avid fisherman love it because the lake never freezes over, despite the area’s low winter temperatures.
The lake manages to stay warm because it’s not really a lake. It’s a cooling pond for a nearby power plant. Since the water is always moving in and out of the hot power towers, the water temperature never gets low enough to freeze. So, if you’re into eating fish caught from power plant water, this is perfect.
No one but locals really cared about these floating homes till 2014, when Bing used a striking picture of the houses on a search page. It brought the village brief fame and was the only time Bing ever made a difference in anyone’s lives.
Dome Home, Florida
Was it an ancient cult’s headquarters? Was it aliens? Is it where Tupac’s been hiding out all this time? The legends surrounding this cluster of dilapidated white domes in Cape Romano have kept Southwest Floridians amused for years. But when former oil producer Bob Lee built the Dome Home in 1980, he wasn’t concerned with confusing future tourists and locals so much as he was trying to build a utopian dream house, according to Miami New Times. It actually was way ahead of its time, but sadly now stands as a crumbling monument to a more eco-friendly future that might have been.
Lee envisioned the property as a self-sufficient vacation home for his family, and for a few years it was just that. The igloo-like units were built on raised concrete stilts, gutters collected rainwater to be used for showering and washing dishes, and there were solar panels for electricity. The domed shape even ensured the structures remained sturdy in the face of powerful hurricanes.
But Mother Nature was just biding her time, that wily minx, and the surrounding beach eventually eroded and the home is slowly sinking. Naples resident John Tosto bought the property in 2005 and tried to refurbish it, but it was rendered uninhabitable by 2007. In 2016, a nonprofit planned to turn it into an artificial reef for education purposes, but it didn’t raise enough money. The domes haven’t disappeared entirely, but you can go ahead and cross this off your list of possible zombie apocalypse hideouts; Hurricane Irma collapsed two of the domes in 2017, meaning a watery grave is really all that awaits this architectural oddity.