We’ve always been fans of architecture around here and in life, generally. We’re used to looking at houses and marveling at their livability; at skyscrapers and feeling awe at their immense strength; at office buildings and relishing their floor are
a ratio. What we are not used to, however, is looking at a building and feeling, kinda, like it just might be able to destroy us. We’re not talking about an <em>Insidious</em>/<em>Paranormal Activity</em>/<em>The Shining</em> kind of destroy, not thinking of a slow, creeping end, but rather, what we’ll look at today, are structures where visiting them is kind of the equivalent of running with scissors. Just a bad idea, and physically so. Click through for our list of ten buildings most likely to destroy you, and let us know about your brushes with architectural death in the comments!<!–more–>
<strong>Eastern Design Office’s “On the Corner” Building, Shiga, Japan</strong>
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There’s something to be said for a well-articulated corner but <a href=”http://www.mymodernmet.com/profiles/blogs/knife-edge-apartment-building” target=”_blank”>this ultra-tight Japanese riff</a> on New York’s Flatiron shape brings a whole new world of sharp possibilities to a ship’s prow of an apartment building. Not the kind of place you want to have an argument in front of, and not the kind of building you want to get into an argument with.
<strong>Etgar Keret’s SkinnyHouse, Warsaw, Poland</strong>
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This Israeli fiction writer’s <a href=”http://www.fastcodesign.com/1664572/check-out-the-skinniest-house-in-the-world” target=”_blank”>Warsaw house</a> — technically an art installation, so as to pass zoning muster — is planned to be a scant four feet wide. It’s not an overly surprising commission from someone who once wrote <a href=”http://www.tikkun.org/article.php/Keret-Interview” target=”_blank”>a short story-as-love-letter</a> about a hot girlfriend who turns into a burping trucker at night, but it does put a whole new pressure on a cocktail party. That said, there’s a lot of synergistic potential here: did somebody say Bethenny Frankel?
<strong>3. Jean Nouvel’s Culture and Congress Center, Lucerne, Switzerland</strong>
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At first glance this seems like <a href=”http://www.galinsky.com/buildings/luzernkkl/index.htm” target=”_blank”>a nice collection of angular planes</a>, put together in a way so as to maximize opera attendance. On second glance, and third, and fourth — and, well, there’s the rub: once you find yourself trying to figure out just where that sheer cantilever ends up in space, you’ll be craning your neck for days. This is the architectural equivalent of zombie-style hypnosis, so look carefully, and levelly forward.
<strong>Dia:Beacon, Beacon, New York</strong>
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Everyone talks about the glory of <a href=”http://www.solomonoff.com/selectedwork/dia-beacon/” target=”_blank”>this Nabisco factory-turned-sunlight-filled art space</a> just up the Metro North line from New York City, and everyone and their uncle talks about the collection of Richard Serras. Less discussed but no less crucial, especially for our danger-sensitive purposes today, is the Michael Heizer installation, <a href=”http://www.diaart.org/exhibitions/main/83″ target=”_blank”><em>North, East, South, West</em></a>, which we’re calling <em>Holes in the Ground, Also Lacking Cautionary Tape</em>.
<strong>Sproul, University of California, Berkeley, CA</strong>
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Two weeks ago the home of student groups like PILLS (the pre-pharmacy student group) and Kal Ki Awaaz, described as “Berkeley’s first all-female South Asian a cappella group,” Sproul has, since November 9th’s riot cop ruckus, become more dangerous than a drunken freshman with a seriously-you-guys conversation to repeat.
<strong>Emilio Ambasz’s Spiritual Retreat, Seville</strong>
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Built for thinking really hard about the world and its ineffabilities and used mostly for the cover of <em>Wallpaper*</em>, Spanish architect Emilio Ambasz’s <a href=”http://www.michelealassio.com/eng/emilio.htm” target=”_blank”>spiritual retreat</a> hides any inhabitability behind a pair of right-angle planes — detailed with outdoor and banister-free stairs — that would make wall-obsessed architect John Hejduk misplace his modernist marbles, and visitors completely lose theirs.
<strong>23 Marina, Dubai</strong>
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Topping out at 1300 feet, <a href=”http://starestate.com/projectdetails.aspx?id=1″ target=”_blank”>23 Marina</a> holds the dubious honor of being the world’s tallest apartment building. At first, of course, we thought the height itself was enough to make it a terrifying structure, but a closer look reveals the site of true destruction: the building’s fifty-seven swimming pools make it a likely target for sewer-happy alligators and the occasional landshark.
<strong>XS House, Jay Shafer, Anywhere</strong>
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If 23 Marina is Papa Bear in our architectural Goldilocks story, then the <a href=”http://www.tumbleweedhouses.com/houses/xs-house/” target=”_blank”>XS House</a>, designed by tiny house aficionado/designer Jay Shafer, plays the part of smallest porridge bowl. At 65 square feet, the XS House makes Keret’s look positively enormous.
<strong>Sheats-Goldstein House, John Lautner, Los Angeles, CA</strong>
<a href=”http://flavorwire.files.wordpress.com/2011/11/sheats-goldstein-house.png”><img class=”alignleft size-full wp-image-231217″ title=”sheats-goldstein-house” src=”http://flavorwire.files.wordpress.com/2011/11/sheats-goldstein-house.png” alt=”” width=”496″ height=”328″ /></a> Photo credit: Elizabeth Daniels via <a href=”http://la.curbed.com/archives/2011/07/inside_john_lautners_dangerous_sheatsgoldstein_house.php” target=”_blank”>Curbed</a>
Our pals at Curbed <a href=”http://la.curbed.com/archives/2011/07/inside_john_lautners_dangerous_sheatsgoldstein_house.php#lautnersheatsgoldstein-21″ target=”_blank”>reported</a> the docents at LA’s Sheats-Goldstein House calling it “the most dangerous house you’ll ever be in,” and a quick look at the glass walkways and railing-free patios — combined with a cantilevered pool-patio roof that just begs to be climbed on — inclines us to agree. Still, if you want to pretend like you’re Bond and/or Jeff Lebowski tripping balls, there’s no place like (the Sheats-Goldstein’s former) home.
<strong>Antilla House, Mumbai, India</strong>
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For sheer insanity, nothing can top this 27-story, <a href=”http://www.forbes.com/2008/04/30/home-india-billion-forbeslife-cx_mw_0430realestate.html” target=”_blank”>$1-billion house</a> in Mumbai, India. More than the Perkins + Will-designed bonkers-ness of a private home for a family of four that includes six floors of parking is the impossibility of actually occupying this space. Not to get all Lefebvrian, but hey, let’s get all Lefebvrian: when you can’t even conceive of the space, there’s no way you can actually inhabit it. And so, welcome to extreme existential dread. And that, friends, is the worst; more dangerous than knife edges, more terrifying than four-foot-wide floorplates, more deadly than anything anyone could ever build. And so we leave you with the ennui of architectural extremism.
<strong>And now, what are you frightened of?</strong>
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