Strange Buildings

Fantastic in the Everyday Writing

An essential part of every fantasy world is the architecture, right? Who can forget hobbit holes or elven flets? Or the swamp dwellings of the feechie-folk? Or underground goblin cities? Whether places people live, work, or shop, our world boasts some pretty fantastic architecture that might inspire you to greater heights of creativity…or prove that no flight of fancy is too wild.

Krzywy Domek

Image credit: Brocha

The Crooked House took shape under inspiration of fairy tale illustrations and the art of Per Dahlberg. With all strange angles, stained glass entrances, and a roof meant to appear like dragon scales, the building looks like something from a bizarre dream come to life. Despite its rippled appearance, this perfectly stable structure forms part of a shopping center in Poland.

Ice Hotels

Images 1, 3, 4 credit: Melolou, Image 2 credit: Ultrahi

Ice Hotels in Sweden and Canada invite visitors to spend the night in rooms or hold special events in rooms crafted from snow and ice. These hotels promise to keep you warm, despite indoor temperatures of -5 degrees Celsius. Each year the artists and sculptors involved fashion the hotels anew, showcasing their creativity, and the otherworldly feel of these hotels promises an intriguing experience.

Ideal Palace

Image credit: Mr.850

Another creative structure, the Ideal Palace, captures the vision of just one man–Ferdinand Cheval. While whimsical and unique in appearance, more fascinating is the story of its construction. Over a period of thirty-three years, Cheval, a French postman, built his “palace” with stones he found on his postal rounds and held them in place with lime, mortar, and cement.  More remarkable, he had no training in masonry or any other sort of construction. Driven only by his own dreams of an ideal dwelling,  he labored long and hard, often by night, and completed this massive endeavor at the age of 76. He chiseled his writings throughout the house and summed it up with this inscription: “10,000 days, 9300 hours, 33 years of toil.”

Would you like to visit any of these locations? Do you know of any other unique buildings–real world, story world, or your own fantasy world–that might be of interest? Please share!

For Writers: Consider how you might bring your fantasy world and even your characters to life through their living circumstances. But don’t just craft unusual or strange living environments, consider how the dwellings shape their inhabitants and perhaps even enhance the conflict of your story.


  • Simon Robson
    August 28, 2011 - 11:42 pm · Reply

    Hi Sarah

    Came across your post today, noticed your invitation to let you know of other strabge buildings – you will find several on my website – url above.

    Have a great day.

  • Sarah Sawyer
    September 7, 2011 - 1:17 pm · Reply

    You have a great collection of unusual buildings. The variety that exists never ceases to surprise me. Thanks for sharing!

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