Why own a house when you can rent a place in one of these wild structures?
I would be surprised to learn that the inhabitants of any one of the buildings on this list were NOT homebodies because the level of coolness inherent in the structures in which they reside is off the charts. Take a look for yourself–why would you ever leave? Incredible.
Top Picks for You
The Cube Houses
WHERE: Rotterdam, Netherlands
I don’t know what it is about Rotterdam, but it has architecture down pat. These iconic architectural feats, specifically, are cubes (yes, cubes) that tilt at a 45-degree angle courtesy of Dutch architect Piet Blom. They are designed to look like an abstract forest, and each structure, with its wooden frames and triangular rooftop, represents a tree. Excitingly enough, you can book one to stay in via Airbnb!
HSB Turning Torso
WHERE: Malmö, Sweden
Imagine living in the tallest building in Sweden. The views! The house parties! Opening in 2005, Spanish sculptor and architect Santiago Calatrava designed this twisted skyscraper—it was intended for it to look like a twisting human—with its aluminum panels, flat glass windows, and 54 stories complete with 147 apartments and condos. There’s a public observation deck on floor 49 and floors 50-52 contain a restaurant a private club. Rent a room (for vacation) on Vrbo here!
WHERE: Montreal, Canada
Introduced at the World’s Fair in 1967, this concoction of concrete was dreamt up by Israeli-Canadian architect Moshe Safdie. While initially just a concept for a thesis at McGill University, the 148 units stacked on/around each other somewhat resemble a deconstructed Rubik’s cube (for the record, I’ve never actually seen a deconstructed Rubik’s cube, but I would imagine it looks like this). While you can also tour the futuristic urban complex, COVID-19 has greatly affected operations.
WHERE: London, England
We’ve all seen the Shard (which is intended to look like a “shard” of glass) either on a postcard, in a magazine, or, most likely, on a social media platform. It’s a London staple and some argue that it sticks out like a sore thumb, a reminder of sorts that the ultra-wealthy are very much present at all times. With that in mind, it comes as no surprise as there are only 10 apartments in the Shard (all insanely bougie), some valued at north of $60 million. However, it’s unclear if they were purchased/anyone actually lives in them. Why? Perhaps it’s the price tag. Or the lack of marketing surrounding their sale. Regardless, the 95-story building—the tallest in the U.K.—is certainly striking in its design.
432 Park Avenue
WHERE: New York City, United States
How do you even live in a building like this (the tallest residential building in NYC, that is)? Rhetorical question, of course. The 1,396-foot tall residential skyscraper—which officially opened in 2015 and is planted firmly on Billionaire’s Row—features a private restaurant for residents and a $95 million penthouse that has six bedrooms, a library, a wine cellar, a pool, and a spa (among other amenities). How much does an apartment here go for on average? Well, it might be tricky to get an exact number but to give you an idea: there is currently a residence available if you’ve got a cool $28 million to spare.
Fun Fact: When it opened, it was the third tallest building in the United States.
WHERE: Turin, Italy
Can a treehouse successfully stand in a city? If this dreamlike structure from architect Luciano Pia is any indication, the answer is a resounding “Yes!” Trees and vines drape over the wooden shingles of 63 residential units here, which sit on columns made of steel and are shaped to look like trees and branches. The structure, in part, was built with the intention of bettering the airflow in and around it and to become as energy-efficient as possible: this includes recycling rain to feed the vegetation, which largely contributes to the complex’s heating and cooling system.
The Basket Apartments by OFIS
WHERE: Paris, France
Frankly, this piece of architecture from design studio OFIS is unfair because it’s exclusively student housing, and…well, I’m not a student so it seems I can’t get my hands on a lease. There are 192 studios here, in total, and they are stacked to resemble—you guessed it—baskets. The apartments sprawl out over two blocks, each of which is 11 stories complete with balconies that have a metal wire mesh façade. The wide corridors are intended to double as an open space for students to hang out and the structures are also energy efficient; and, thanks to elements like glass staircases, they get plenty of natural light.
WHERE: Istanbul, Turkey
Aytac Architects designed this luxury residential building in the Erenköy neighborhood, which is intended to pay tribute to the area’s vineyards that were destroyed some 50 years ago because of “densification.” Upon first glance from the street, the apartments appear to be twisting and turning on top of one another, much like vines. There are tranquil gardens both on the ground level and the rooftop and, appropriately, plenty of natural light to drink in.
The Aqua Tower
WHERE: Chicago, United States
This residential skyscraper in downtown Chicago stands at 82 stories and is notable, among other things, for its wave-like frontage which only accentuates its sculptural form; the nautical aesthetic is actually a theme among buildings in the area. Designed by Studio Gang Architects, the building—in addition to its 476 rental units—is also home to a hotel, offices, and one of the largest “green” rooftops in the city.
Spectrum Apartments by Kavellaris Urban Design
WHERE: Box Hill, Australia
Geometry usually makes my head hurt but I find this geometric compound, which contains 71 apartments, entrancing. Brought to life by Kavellaris Urban Design, Spectrum is slightly reminiscent of Rotterdam’s Cube Houses and the Basket Apartments in Paris, but its five stories are arguably sleeker and its dynamically colorful façade and little touches, like the “zig-zags” in its corridors, more than set it apart.