CLOSE

10 Apartments and Houses With Crazy Features

Many children dream of having incredibly fun living spaces when they grow up—like a room with a disco floor, or a ceiling made entirely out of Pez dispensers. Thankfully, some of those children grew up and became architects or designers who made their seemingly outlandish apartment dreams a reality. Here’s a collection of 10 homes with amazingly fun features.

1. AN APARTMENT WITH AN INDOOR SWIMMING POOL

Sure, you've heard of apartment buildings with indoor pools, but what about an apartment with a pool directly in the unit? When this three-bedroom apartment in Sydney came on the market two years ago, it was snatched up almost immediately, probably because of the personal-sized indoor swimming pool in the living room. When not in use, the pool is shielded by a glass cover, which lifts up with the help of a winch. The pool isn't the apartment's only awesome feature; it also has an indoor grill and a retractable roof (but really, nothing tops being able to take a swim in the middle of your living room).

2. A HOUSE WITH HAMMOCK FLOORS

What better way to relax after a long day than sink into your hammock floors and read a good book? That was architect Nathalie Wolberg’s notion when she designed Maison NW, her home and workspace, in Saint-Quen near Paris. Formerly a 1950s printing house, the three-floor home has been transformed into nine artist studios; according to Archinet, Wolberg treats it "as a laboratory to test out new devices and new environments on a daily basis." The top floor has an area with hammock netting where residents can lie down and stare up at a giant skylight in total comfort that Archinet says "allows the individual to extract himself from the surrounding environment, and makes the body become gravity-conscious."

3. A PENTHOUSE WITH AN INDOOR SLIDE

When New York City architect David Hotson was tasked with designing the penthouse in an 1896 skyscraper in lower Manhattan that was being converted to residential use, he added a feature most kids would kill for—a giant, indoor slide. The polished stainless steel tube starts at the top of the four-story penthouse and makes a pit stop on the third floor (where riders can get out, if they choose) before continuing down to the first floor. The home, which Hotson dubbed "Skyhouse," has other fun accents as well, including skylights, exposed steel beams from the original structure, funhouse mirrors, and bright furniture; the architect worked with interior designer Ghislaine Viñas on the project.

4. A ROOM WITH PING PONG BALL WALLS

How do you make your apartment pop? Simple—stick 25,000 ping pong balls to its walls. That’s what Snarkitecture partner Daniel Arsham decided to do to his small apartment in Brooklyn. According to Inhabitat, it took Arsham two months to affix all the balls to the walls of his room, which he calls “Box/Box.” (Not all the walls are ping pong ball-covered, though; some have mirrors to make the space look bigger.) Arsham's living space is only 90 square feet, but he shares a 2500 square foot workspace with other designers.

5. AN APARTMENT WITH A FIREMAN’S POLE

Dezeen

Because the owners of a two-story apartment called Haus JJ in the Kreuzberg area of Berlin wanted to be able to get between floors quickly, they asked their architect, Jörg Petri of NOWlab, to put in a slide. "Unfortunately the floor plan did not allow enough space so we had to compact the idea," Petri told Dezeen. "[T]he result was a fireman's pole." To keep the pole out of the way, it's tucked into a corner of a small room that is shielded by a bookcase. The pole leads down into the owner’s office, just in case he has an idea for work and needs to start on it ASAP.

6. AN APARTMENT WITH A JUNGLE ROOM, DESIGNED BY JEAN-PAUL GAULTIER

You probably know designer Jean-Paul Gaultier for the looks he sends down the runway, but the former creative director of Hermès also has apartment design on his resume. In 2010, Gaultier decorated each room of a Paris apartment formerly owned by architect Jacques Carlu with a different theme (a task that reportedly took three months). One room was entirely covered in jersey fabric (including the furniture), while another featured a bed with a doll whose dress served as the comforter. And then there was the jungle room, which featured plants on nearly every surface. "My imagination comes from the cinema," Gaultier told Dwell. "I love the idea that nature is capable of trumping concrete.” Gaultier was the third fashion designer to revamp the space.

7. THE APARTMENT OF EXTERIOR STAIRS

A photo posted by tomchan (@huskiesdontplayfetch) on

Tokyo Apartment is actually a collection of four different apartments designed by Sou Fujimoto. The design was a collaboration between the well-known Japanese architect and the owner of the property, who had given up his job to care for his wife, who had a stroke. Instead of selling their plot of land when the couple's savings began to run out, he commissioned architects to design something unique to attract potential renters. Fujimoto’s vision fit the bill. The result is something out of the 2010 film Inception—stacked block-like structures with pitched roofs that have stairs wrapping around the outer walls and rooftops. Inside, the apartments range from 330 to 602 square feet and are outfitted with ladders to get from floor to floor.

8. A STEAMPUNK APARTMENT WITH A ZEPPELIN LIGHT

This New York City apartment was a steampunk enthusiast's dream. In addition to a submarine-style entrance—which even had a working porthole—and vintage pipes, the apartment featured a 32-foot-long zeppelin LED light fixture. Sadly, after the 1800 square foot apartment was purchased in 2012, it was de-steampunked; all that remains is the kitchen, which featured antique parts.

9. THE REVERSIBLE DESTINY LOFTS

Each one of these unusual Tokyo lofts comes with a set of instructions: Residents are to "treat each room as if it were you yourself, a direct extension of you," and, when they entered a unit, should "fully believe you are walking into your own immune system." According to Slate, the lofts were produced by Reversible Destiny, a foundation that seeks to extend lifespan through architecture. The idea is that homes constructed with such unusual features will force residents to keep changing up their routines, thereby avoiding becoming comfortable and eventually meeting their ultimate fates (a.k.a. death). Some of the many unusual features of these apartments are spherical rooms, swing sets, and random ladders.

10. A HOUSE DESIGNED FOR CATS

This colorful, cat-friendly abode in San Diego was designed by former owners Bob and Frances Walker. Among the many cat-friendly features that they built for their nine cats: floor-to-ceiling scratching posts, hanging staircases, and elevated walkways, all in bright, bold colors. They started their work in 1986, and when they sold the property in 2013, every inch was covered in cat paraphernalia; the owners called the style “Cat Baroque.” Unfortunately, after the Walkers sold the property, the new owner got rid of the cat walkway.

BONUS: THE ROLLING APARTMENT

This adventure in experimental housing has all the things you'd need in an apartment in one giant wheel. Roll It was created by students at the University of Karlsruhe in Germany. All you have to do is walk in it like you would a hamster wheel, and let it roll into the feature you want to use. The unit contains a bed, a lounge chair, a table, built in storage, a shower, a kitchen sink, and even a toilet. The cushions for the bed and lounge chair are attached with velcro and can be stored until you need them. There's no evidence that this home ever made it out of prototype, which is a shame—it would be an interesting place to throw a party.

nextArticle.image_alt|e
Courtesy of Fernando Artigas
arrow
architecture
Step Inside This Stunning, Nature-Inspired Art Gallery in Tulum, Mexico
Courtesy of Fernando Artigas
Courtesy of Fernando Artigas

Upon closer inspection, this building in Tulum, Mexico, doesn’t seem like a suitable place to house an art exhibit. Everything that makes it so visually striking—its curved walls, uneven floors, and lack of drab, white backgrounds—also makes it a challenge for curators.

But none of these factors deterred Santiago Rumney Guggenheim—the great-grandson of the late famed art collector and heiress Peggy Guggenheim—from christening the space an art gallery. And thus, IK LAB was born.

“We want to trigger the creative minds of artists to create for a completely different environment,” Rumney Guggenheim, the gallery’s director, tells Artsy. “We are challenging the artists to make work for a space that doesn’t have straight walls or floors—we don’t even have walls really, it’s more like shapes coming out of the floor. And the floor is hardly a floor.”

A view inside IK LAB
Courtesy of Fernando Artigas

A view inside IK LAB
Courtesy of Fernando Artigas

A view inside IK LAB
Courtesy of Fernando Artigas

A view inside IK LAB
Courtesy of Fernando Artigas

IK LAB was brought to life by Rumney Guggenheim and Jorge Eduardo Neira Sterkel, the founder of luxury resort Azulik. The two properties, which have a similar style of architecture, share a site near the Caribbean coast. IK LAB may be unconventional, but it certainly makes a statement. Its ceiling is composed of diagonal slats resembling the veins of a leaf, and a wavy wooden texture breaks up the monotony of concrete floors. Entry to the gallery is gained through a 13-foot-high glass door that’s shaped a little like a hobbit hole.

The gallery was also designed to be eco-conscious. The building is propped up on stilts, which not only lets wildlife pass underneath, but also gives guests a view overlooking the forest canopy. Many of the materials have been sourced from local jungles. Gallery organizers say the building is designed to induce a “meditative state,” and visitors are asked to go barefoot to foster a more sensory experience. (Be careful, though—you wouldn't want to trip on the uneven floor.)

The gallery's first exhibition, "Alignments," features the suspended sculptures of Artur Lescher, the perception-challenging works of Margo Trushina, and the geometrical pendulums of Tatiana Trouvé. One piece by Trouvé features 250 pendulums suspended from the gallery's domed ceiling. If you want to see this exhibit, be sure to get there before it ends in September.

[h/t Dezeen]

nextArticle.image_alt|e
iStock
arrow
architecture
Engineers Have Figured Out How the Leaning Tower of Pisa Withstands Earthquakes
iStock
iStock

Builders had barely finished the second floor of the Tower of Pisa when the structure started to tilt. Despite foundational issues, the project was completed, and eight centuries and at least four major earthquakes later, the precarious landmark remains standing. Now, a team of engineers from the University of Bristol and other institutions claims to have finally solved the mystery behind its endurance.

Pisa is located between the Arno and Serchio rivers, and the city's iconic tower was built on soft ground consisting largely of clay, shells, and fine sand. The unstable foundation meant the tower had been sinking little by little until 2008, when construction workers removed 70 metric tons of soil to stabilize the site. Today it leans at a 4-degree angle—about 13 feet past perfectly vertical.

Now researchers say that the dirt responsible for the tower's lean also played a vital role in its survival. Their study, which will be presented at this year's European Conference on Earthquake Engineering in Greece, shows that the combination of the tall, stiff tower with the soft soil produced an effect known as dynamic soil-structure interaction, or DSSI. During an earthquake, the tower doesn't move and shake with the earth the same way it would with a firmer, more stable foundation. According to the engineers, the Leaning Tower of Pisa is the world's best example of the effects of DSSI.

"Ironically, the very same soil that caused the leaning instability and brought the tower to the verge of collapse can be credited for helping it survive these seismic events," study co-author George Mylonakis said in a statement.

The tower's earthquake-proof foundation was an accident, but engineers are interested in intentionally incorporating the principles of DSSI into their structures—as long as they can keep them upright at the same time.

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios