9 Unique Architectural Design Marvels You Need to See

Where architectural design really impresses is when the builder combines structural function with an artistic appeal. Unique building designs elevate the surrounding area and often serve as a focal point, topic of conversation or even an attraction to the area. Inventive designs are a valuable investment for business owners wanting to set their location apart from the rest and spark a fire of interest in what they’re doing.

Here are 9 stunning examples of unique architecture to help inspire your own ideas.

1. Breaking the mold: doing what’s “not done”

(Rec Pier at the DC Wharf, by Michael Vergason Landscape Architects, photo by Sean O'Rourke Photography)

Some of the most memorable accomplishments in architecture come from the idea to do what is simply “not done.” This kind of boundary breaking thought is what gives way to new trends and movements in the industry. Before the team at Michael Vergason Landscape Architects designed the rec pier at the Wharf in Washington, D.C. no one thought it was possible to bend a wood as hard as Kebony modified wood. But by doing the undone they created a stunning statement that people can actively enjoy every day.

2. Going for the shock and awe

(Helgeland Kraft Power Plant, by Stein Hamre Arkitekter, photo by Bjorn Leirvik)

When you think about monumental, breathtaking architecture you might not think of your local power plant fitting into this category, however in Mosjøen, Norway they do! The Øvre Forsland power station, designed by Stein Hamre Arkitekter, is undoubtedly the more gorgeous power plant ever erected. Sticking to the plant’s sustainability mantra, eco-friendly Kebony wood was used in combination with epic glass panels to create a one-of-a-kind look.

(Helgeland Kraft Power Plant, by Stein Hamre Arkitekter, photo by Bjorn Leirvik)

And while beautiful on its own in the daylight, at night you see the building come alive. Colored lights pour from the windows, glimmering across the quiet waters, reflective of the Northern Lights which served as the architect’s inspiration.  

3. Building without disruption

(Atlantic View Lodges, by The Bazeley Partnership, photo by Layton Bennett)

Sometimes a landscape is so remarkable and serene, that building within it seems like a crime against nature and God’s creation. In instances like these, the art of building without disrupting is an approach well worth taking. These six luxury cottages, positioned in Widemouth Bay, Bude, UK, allow guests to take in the beauty of the Atlantic coast without hindering the natural scene. Their ability to blend seamlessly into the seashore was made part by the genius that is The Bazeley Partnership, who chose natural materials, like stone and Kebony modified wood, and cased them with lush green roofs.

4. Playing with juxtaposition

(Valley Villa, by Arches)

Conventional, ordinary and been done are words that no one wants to hear when it comes to architecture. So what is a way one can avoid this characterization? This home, designed by Arches, plays with various opposing thoughts, bringing them together to create one, somehow unified, building. Sun and shade: The large pane glass pane windows let in light, while the modified wood window treatments provide shade, giving the interior the perfect balance of light and dark. Grounded and yet suspended: Built into a natural hill, half of this house is firmly supported by earth and concrete while the other side extends over the patio, suspended in mid air - a very interesting, fun and functional element of this design. Private and yet exposed: Constructed in a very quiet wooded area, this house offers ultimate privacy, and yet somehow with it’s over reaching design and clarity of view also gives it a send of exposure. The back and forth, give and take of the “opposite effect” of this home makes it a design worth exploring.

5. Pulling inspiration from the sea

(Onda Restaurant, by Alliance and MAPT)

Oftentimes a property nestled on the coast doesn’t require an overreaching design. Afterall why detract from what’s naturally there? But by harnessing that landscape and letting it serve as your design inspiration, you can create something subtle and spectacular, like this restaurant in Oslo, Norway. With the rustic, untarnished beauty of modified wood, they were able to create a fluid and inviting space that reflects the beauty of the water it sits beside.

6. Turning standard building expectations inside out

(The Quiet Treehouse, by Blue Forest Luxury Treehouses)

In architecture there are designs that move beyond ordinary and truly became a work of art. The team at Blue Forest Luxury Treehouses did just that with this one-of-a-kind treehoused design. The insideout exposed beams provide structure as well as an unforgettable artistic appearance. And by using natural wood cladding it helps create a sense of belonging, for the ultra modern house, in the surrounding landscape.

7. A research institute with a non-industrial look

(Nina, by Pir II, Phoot by Angell foto AS)

This massive wooden building is home to NINA, the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research. Not so surprisingly, in 2013 this building was the winner of the WAN Wood in Architecture award. The mix of angles, modified wood, glass and metal make this building a surprise at every corner. The spirit of its natural chaos make it a suitable home for a nature research institute as well as a top architectural marvel.  

8. Communicating a message through architectural design

(KREOD)

Some architectural creations start first and foremost with the desire to make a statement. The architects at KREOD made such a statement with the 2012 installation of this sculpture, in London, which sought to inspire forward thinking and the eco-movement. Constructed with environmentally friendly products, like Kebony modified wood, the space is not only a beautiful landmark, but also an interactive landscape for the public and a reminder of the importance to be considerate of the natural world around us in everything we do.

9. Standing out while fitting in

(Cinque Ports, by JD Architects, photo by Oliver Perrott)

Renovating existing structures in historic districts is often met with challenges. There can be rules and regulations that you have to abide by which can make it difficult to create a refreshing new structure. But with thoughtfulness and creativity you can build beauty, like this Kebony clad building nestled in in the midst of classic, medieval architecture. The varied pitches on the roof, in combination with the simple shape of the windows help it fit in accordingly, but the single pane glass and the classic wood siding allow it to stand out. This perfect balance between two worlds - old and new - making it a huge architectural design success.

The world of architecture is constantly evolving. Architects are consistently coming up with new ideas and approaches to building design, while also breathing life into traditional construction that's been relied on for decades. These ten featured designs are just a small glimpse into a large world of unique architectural creations. So we encourage you to continue exploring and don’t forget to share the fun new ideas you find or create with us; we’re always on the lookout for the next latest marvels!

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