Top 10 strangest buildings in the UK

The UK has a long history of producing unique and interesting buildings. When it comes to architecture, the British have always been innovative.

This is part of the reason so many British architects have been engaged to work on some of the world’s most important and impressive buildings. The best UK architects have worked largely abroad but, fortunately, they have also left their mark here. Their efforts, coupled with those of elite architects from elsewhere, has left the UK with some remarkable buildings.

Here are 10 worth a special mention:

10. The Dunmore Pineapple House, Stirlingshire

During the 18th Century, the British began to travel more and to go further afield. When they did so, they would often bring back souvenirs, some of them quite surprising. If they came back from the Indies and America, it was not unusual for people to cherish coconuts and pineapples as souvenirs.

The 4th Earl of Dunmore took things a step further. He was the colonial governor of New York and Virginia. When he came back to live in Scotland again, he extended his summerhouse. The main feature of his extension was a small tower topped with a huge concrete pineapple. It is an odd yet impressive sight still enchanting visitors today.

9. The House in the Clouds, Thorpeness, Suffolk

In 1923, a water tower was built in the village of Thorpeness, Suffolk. It was a practical structure that did its job, but the ugly structure was not very popular. To improve its appearance, cladding was added to make it look more like a house. Oddly, in 1979, the main tank was removed and the structure became a real five-bedroom house, with three bathrooms.

8. The Thin House, Knightsbridge, London

This house looks remarkably thin when approaching from the west, appearing to be a mere 7ft wide. In reality, this is an optical illusion, as viewers from this angle are only looking at its edge.

The property is triangular, but it is quite small, measuring just 34ft at its widest point. It was built this way so that it could be fitted in alongside the adjacent railway line. Despite its strange shape, the house is still worth more than £2m.

7. M by Montcalm Tech City, London

The Montcalm, in London is another building that produces a peculiar optical illusion. A luxury hotel that was completed in 2015, it is a striking building that looks flat upon approach, but gradually reveals itself to be triangle-shaped at the front.

6. The Balancing Barn, Thorington, Suffolk

This unusual house is located on the edge of a nature reserve. The barn was built to replace a smaller existing house that was built on the edge of a slope. This challenging landscape was put to good use when then the new property was built. Using this cantilevered design enabled a far bigger property to be built on the site. The end that is suspended above the hill is made almost entirely of glass, allowing the occupants of the barn to enjoy panoramic views.

There are plenty of quirky touches, which make the building more comfortable to live in and serve to add even more character. The swing suspended under the overhang is just one example of this.

5. The National Lift Tower, Northampton

This structure, which is also known as the Express Lift Tower, is 127.5 metres (418ft) tall, yet it is just 14.6 meters (48ft) in diameter. From a distance, it looks almost like a needle. The fact that the tower is built in a very flat part of the UK makes it appear all the more striking.

The tower was opened in 1982 by Queen Elizabeth II. As the name suggests, it is used to test lifts. In 1997, it was made a Grade II listed building.

4. City Hall, Southwark, London

This quirky looking building is the home to the London Mayor. Usually described as a beehive-like slanting structure, it is best viewed in the dark, yet when still lit up, so the late afternoon of a working day in winter is perhaps the perfect time for a visit. The building is open to visitors every weekday, apart from holidays, and is bound to impress with its elliptical staircase.

3. The Cabman’s Shelters in London

While visiting London, there is a chance that you will come across some little green shed-like buildings made of wood and tiles. They are very distinctive, in part because they were built during the late 19th Century. As the name suggests, they were constructed for the cabmen of London to use.

Their main purpose was to act as somewhere where the driver of a horse and carriage could pick up a drink and some food. Basically, they were the 19th-Century equivalent of a drive through.

Today, only 13 of them remain. They are scattered throughout the centre of London, but you can visit three of them within the SW1 postcode. Most of them are still used as cafes, but only people who have passed ‘The Knowledge’ can go in and sit inside. Ordinary visitors can only buy their coffee and snacks from a serving hatch.

2. The BT Tower, Fitzrovia, London

This odd-looking glass-clad tower was built in 1964. Its main purpose was to house the microwave dish aerials that were used for telecommunications at that time. They are still housed near the top of the building, which is part of the reason this tower is so unique and strange to look at.

1. The Rushton Triangular Lodge, Rushton, Northamptonshire

The purpose of this building is not 100% clear, but it was originally believed to have been a lodge. It was built by Sir Thomas Tresham in the late 16th Century. He was imprisoned for refusing to convert from Catholicism to Protestantism, so most people believe that this building was built to celebrate the Trinity. The fact that the building has three sides and features many biblical references contributed to this theory.

However, some people believe that ratios used in the design are actually a product of Pythagorean theory, or at least how it was understood in the 16th Century. It certainly is a fascinating place that is still revealing its architectural secrets.

Posted by Mark
November 13, 2018
Features

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