Eight incredible animal-shaped buildings

Architects are creative people, so they love to experiment with new forms. The emergence of new materials and construction techniques means that, over the past few decades, they have been able to be even more creative.

Across the globe, interesting new buildings are going up all the time. One of the more bizarre and innovative trends is the creation of animal-shaped buildings. As you will see, there are already quite a few of them scattered throughout the world, with more on the drawing board.

Some have been put up simply as a marketing gimmick. Others have been built to reflect what goes on inside the building. All of them are interesting and creative though, so here are some of our favourites.

1. Kindergarten Wolfartsweier, Karlsruhe, Germany

This fantastic cat-shaped building is innovative as well as interesting. For example, the cat’s tail has a huge slide built into it. This striking kindergarten was designed by Tomi Ungerer and Ayla Suzan Yöndel and was completed in 2011.

Kids love something zany and most are big fans of animals. For them, the idea of going to kindergarten in a cat-shaped building is irresistible. No doubt parents in the area are badgered by their kids to be enrolled in this particular school.

2. The corrugated dog and sheep buildings in Tirau, New Zealand


The small town of Tirau has three novelty animal-shaped buildings. In the 1990s, a new visitor’s centre was built, with a wool shop next door.

A local artisan, Steven Clothier, was asked to give the buildings a bit more character. He did this by using corrugated aluminium to create an animal head to tag onto one end of each building.

Clothier settled on a sheep for the shop and a dog’s head for the visitor’s centre next door. From a certain angle it looks like the sheep and dog are lying alongside each other. Some people say that it looks like a sheepdog taking a rest alongside one of its charges. In 2005, a third animal-shaped building was built next to the shop. This time, it was a ram’s head that was chosen.

The smallish town of Tirau is located on a tourist route, but relatively few people stopped off there. Nowadays, thousands break their journey every year to visit these three buildings and enjoy some of the town’s corrugated art pieces at the same time. This is something that happens in most places with novelty buildings – they are still rare enough to draw in the crowds.

3. The Dog Bark Inn, Cottonwood, Idaho


In fact, some of these buildings are built specifically to cater to tourists; for example, over the years, several animal-shaped hotels have gone up.

The Dog Bark Inn in Cottonwood, Idaho is one of the most famous ones. This amazing building was created by two wood-carving artists. They both use chainsaws to produce large canine carvings.

Fairly recently, they decided to branch out and built a two-storey bed and breakfast guest house next to their gift shop and chainsaw carving museum. The twist is that the exterior of the building has been constructed to look like a giant Beagle. As you would expect, dogs are welcome guests in this appropriately shaped B&B.

4. Lucy the Elephant, Margate City, New Jersey


Lucy the Elephant is another great example of a building that was built with tourists in mind. The elephant-shaped hotel was built in 1881 in Margate City.

Naturally, over the decades, this six-storey hotel has had its ups and downs – in fact, it has nearly been demolished twice. On one of those occasions, it was only saved from demolition because locals clubbed together and paid for it to be moved to a safe spot.

5. The Giant Koala, Dadswells Bridge, Victoria, Australia


One of the most lifelike of the animal-shaped buildings is the tourist centre in Dadwells Bridge, Australia. It looks exactly like a giant koala.

The detailing is amazing. Ben Van Zetton, who created this artistic structure, even took the time to incorporate tufts of fur in the koala’s ears. This 14-meter high structure was finished in 1988 and still a big tourist draw. Incorporated into the base are a café and souvenir shop.

6. The Cabazon Dinosaurs, Cabazon, California


In the mid-60s, a local restaurant owner wanted to encourage more passing motorists to stop and have a meal. His solution was to build two giant dinosaurs nearby.

The first one to be completed was a 150-foot-long brontosaurus nicknamed Dinny, which was finished in 1975. The 65-foot-tall tyrannosaurus rex called Mr. Rex was completed in 1986. Both are made out of concrete, which is held up using a steel frame.

In the 1990s, additional development was undertaken, which has turned the site into a significant tourist attraction. Inside Dinny is a museum and gift shop.

As you can see, these buildings come in many different formats. However, there is one animal that seems to dominate the novelty building scene – fish. Here are details two of the most interesting piscine structures.

7. L’Hemisferic, The City of Arts and Science, Valencia, Spain


When you first see this odd-looking building, you may not realise it’s meant to be a fish. You have to wait until night falls to fully appreciate its cleverly designed exterior. The building is lit up in a way that enables you to see it reflected in the man-made lake it sits next to. Only then can you can really see the fish shape.

This remarkable building holds another treat for its visitors. If you take the time to go around the other side, you will realise that the reverse of L’Hemisferic has been made to look like a giant eye.

8. The Fisheries Department, Hyderabad, India


Perhaps the most striking fish-shaped building in the world is the Fisheries Department in Hyderabad. This four-storey stainless steel mimetic building has been very cleverly designed. One of the fish’s side fins doubles as an awning for the lobby, while its circular eyes provide two huge panoramic windows for occupants of the building to enjoy.

The mimetic or novelty building scene is one that looks set to continue to grow. This is great news for architects, because it provides us with the opportunity to work with our clients to create something unique and remarkable.

Posted by Mark
January 8, 2019

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