10 Cheerful Architectural Designs That Make Us Happy


There’s a lot of ambivalence when it comes to the word “happy” — and we’re not just talking about our collective exhaustion regarding Pharrell’s eternal single from the Despicable Me 2 soundtrack (make it stop). But since it’s a new year and our jaded levels are set to low, we’re looking at fun and inspiring examples of “happy” architecture. These cheerful buildings and delightful designs aim to please the eye and lift the spirits with their vibrant palettes and pleasant facades. Here are a few happy works of architecture we hope will make you smile.

Fooi-Ling Khoo from OOF! Architecture, in collaboration with artist Rose Nolan, created the Hello House in Melbourne, Australia — a renovated Victorian shop with a bright brick facade. “The clients are a couple who love their neighborhood and are keen to engage with the community through their home,” Khoo explains. “Rather than using the house as a tool to shut themselves off, we thought it could be a way to be part of the ‘village’ they loved. Our conversations led to the most distinctive feature of the home, the ‘Hello’ wall.”

Photo credit: Ketsiree Wongwan

Photo credit: Ketsiree Wongwan

Bangkok design studio Apostrophy’s is bursting with cheerful colors and motivational quotes, like the one leading visitors up the stairs: “The struggle you’re in today is developing the strength you need for tomorrow.”

This lovely rainbow-colored school for Kindergarteners in Paris is begging for us to go back to class. Architects from studio Palatre & Leclère took a boring building from the 1940s and made it a place for four-year-olds to dream and learn.

The French clearly have the market on Crayola-savvy architecture cornered (with sophistication to boot). This youth center and sports complex in Saint-Cloud would inspire anyone to sweat thanks to its vibrant design.

Photo credit: CRIEnglish

Photo credit: CRIEnglish

The iridescent Water Cube at Olympic Park in Beijing looks like the ocean come to life. Pastel colors and organic shapes reference the palette of the sea. Disney would make this place over the top, but the swimming facility has a whimsical sense of scale and style that is still beautifully understated.

The Blaue Apotheke in Germany, a pharmacy, wants to put a smile on your face before you refill those prescription meds.

New York City pop artist James Rizzi created the wildly ecstatic facade of the Happy Rizzi House, an office building in Braunschweig, Germany. During his lifetime, Rizzi worked closely with several children’s charities and clearly had an affinity for all things free-spirited and playful, evidenced in this eye-popping design.

You simply can’t be surly while wandering through this topsy-turvy house in Moscow. It’s an interactive attraction that invites the public to walk on the ceilings.

This luminous installation at Hotel G in Hong Kong turned the posh lifestyle hotel into a massive Lite-Brite.

German artist Horst Gläsker is known for adding bold splashes of color to architectural elements in gray urban spaces. His rainbow-colored staircase installation uses text to spell out words like “dance” and “passion.”