Literal Architecture: 12 Awful Buildings Designed to Look Like Other Things


As proud, card carrying members of the creative class, we know all to well that finding original and intelligent inspiration can be tough, especially in a world where even the most obscure references are a few expert keystrokes away. Yes, keeping up with a well-edited Tumblr dashboard is enough to make your head spin, but still, it’s no excuse for lazy, uninspired design. As with anything, there’s the bad, the ugly, and then, there’s the unforgivable. Let us warn you dear readers: the architecture you are about to see falls definitively in to the latter category.

From a hotel intentionally designed to look like a commonplace salt shaker to the worst, larger than life representation of a fish we’ve ever seen, click through to check out our irreverent roundup of unfortunate design inspiration. Then, take the opportunity to pass a little anonymous judgement and nominate your picks in the comments below!

Holiday Inn inspired by a sugar shaker — Townsville, Australia

Image credit: City Noise; Alibaba

Asahi Building inspired by a human sperm — Tokyo, Japan

Image credit: Michael John Grist; best pictures of

National Fisheries Development Board regional office building inspired by a fish — Hyderabad, India

Image credit: NCSX; Free Pet Wallpapers

Chang Building inspired by an elephant — Bangkok, Thailand

Image credit: List25; Thomas Schoch

Fang Yuan Da Sha inspired by an ancient Chinese coin — Shenyang, China

Image credit: Derek Good Good Study; Wen Tai Sun

Diagonal Towers inspired by a hashtag — Seoul, Korea

Image credit: SOM via e-architect; Media Funnel

De Young Museum inspired by a Jawa Sandcrawler — San Francisco, California

Image credit: Abe Kleinfeld; Light Speed Gaming

Apartment building inspired by a strip of film — Malaga, Spain

Image credit: Tracy Benjamin

Piano Violin House — Huainan, China

Image credit: Marijn van den Brink ; Buy A Piano

AT&T Building inspired by Batman — Nashville, Tennessee

Image credit: Dorothy Thayer; Muddy Colors

Namba Park Tower inspired by a Sony Playstation 3 — Osaka, Japan

Image credit: engadget; crazy-frankenstein

Zayed National Museum inspired by a pair of wings — Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

Image credit: Fabiano Friedrich; Rachel Snack