Well, folks, it’s been a good run, but I think the time has come for a drastic change.
Ghosts? Bigfoot? John Titor? It’s all old hat, as I’m sure you’ll agree. So tonight I’m happy to announce, effective immediately, that the focus of Stranger Dimensions is going to shift from science and the paranormal to covering buildings and architecture that literally have strange dimensions.
I know; I’m excited, too.
1. The Atomium
I thought we’d start with a simple list of designs with some of the stranger dimensions, if you will. The Atomium, for example, was built for the Brussels 1958 World’s Fair and, according to Wikipedia, was designed in the shape “of a unit cell of an iron crystal magnified 165 billion times.”
It’s actually a museum, with each of those spheres containing various exhibits. The tubes running between them house stairs and escalators.
2. Habitat 67
Next, we have Habitat 67, a complicated arrangement of housing units in Montreal, Canada designed by architect Moshe Safdie. It was constructed in 1967 as part of the World’s Fair Expo 67, and consists of “354 identical, prefabricated concrete forms,” adding up to 146 individual residences. Of course, no one actually lives there — it’s a pavilion, an experiment, a proof of concept. Fun fact: They used Lego bricks to construct test models during its inital planning.
3. Coral Castle
Coral Castle is the strangest thing. Built by a single man named Edward Leedskalnin over the course of 20 years, this curious place in Leisure City, Florida (though originally located in Florida City) is surrounded by a great deal of mystery.
Its bizarre structures are made of oolitic limestone, but how were they made, and moved, by a single person? According to Wikipedia, “A few teenagers claimed to have witnessed his work, reporting that he had caused the blocks of coral to move like hydrogen balloons.” Leedskalnin himself reportedly claimed to have “discovered the secrets of the pyramids.”
4. Svalbard Global Seed Vault
The Svalbard Global Seed Vault on the Norwegian island of Spitsbergen looks like a giant flash drive jammed into the side of a glacier, but it serves an important purpose: Inside, conservationists have preserved plant seeds to ensure that we can recover in the event of lost samples or, worse, some kind of global catastrophe. And remember, folks — if you need help preparing for the end of the world and want to ensure your own bunker situation, I’ve got you covered.
5. The Sagrada Família
To me, certain areas of the Sagrada Família (like the one above) look a bit like some kind of giant barnacle, the sort of thing you find growing on the lower decks of the Flying Dutchman. Designed by architect Antoni Gaudí, it’s a Roman Catholic Church (proclaimed a minor basilica in 2010) located in Barcelona, Spain.
Eight spires reach into the sky, with its highest point planned to be 560 feet. Oh, and by the way — although construction began in 1882, the Sagrada Família is not completed, yet. It’s scheduled to be finished in 2026.
Also known as the Church of Hallgrímur, this towering structure rises 244 feet high, the largest church in Iceland. According to Wikipedia, it took 41 years to build, and also has an observation deck from which visitors can see Reykjavic and the surrounding landscape. I imagine that’s quite the view.
7. Hobbit Holes!
Did you know that the Hobbit homes featured in The Lord of the Rings movie trilogy actually exist? In New Zealand? Nowadays, Hobbiton exists as a very real tourism destination, complete with a visitor center and guided tours. Hobbit holes, as you can see, are homes built directly into the earth, with rounded doors and little chimneys.
8. The Flatiron Building
The peculiar Flatiron Building can be found at 175 Fifth Avenue in New York City, and as you can see, it’s a bit thin. Completed in 1902, this triangular building stands 22 stories high, and is only 6.5 feet wide at its northern vertex.
9. China Central Television HQ
Visit Beijing, China’s Central Business District and you’ll find the China Central Television Headquarters, a 44-story skyscraper consisting of an irregular grid with a central opening. Construction was intended to be finished in 2009, but a nearby fire started by Lantern Festival fireworks slowed its development. According to Wikipedia, it was finally completed in 2012.
10. Air Force Academy Chapel
Now here’s a building I wouldn’t want to step on. The United States Air Force Academy Chapel in Colorado Springs, Colorado, consists of 17 sharp and pointy spires that reach 150 feet high. Inside are chapels and worship areas for various religions, serving the nearby Air Force Academy. Honestly, it reminds me of something you might find in the Mass Effect universe.
11. Winchester Mystery House
Perhaps the strangest, most mysterious building on this list, the Winchester Mystery House has always lived up to its name. Today, the mansion is a historical landmark in San Jose, California. But in the beginning, it served as the bizarre project of Sarah Winchester, widow of William Wirt Winchester, of the Winchester Repeating Arms Company.
You see, after Sarah Winchester’s husband and daughter died, she was told by a spirit medium that she should build a house, one that would serve as her home — and the home of everyone who had died by the shot of a Winchester rifle. And so she created her Mystery House, with doors and stairways leading nowhere, continuously making additions to appease the agitated spirits she believed haunted her family name.
12. Spaceship Earth
And lastly, we have Spaceship Earth, the centerpiece of Walt Disney World’s EPCOT Center. Yes, I still call it EPCOT Center. Opened on October 1, 1982 as a sort of theme park variation of Walt Disney’s original vision for the Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow, Epcot has always had a bit of an identity crisis. It was supposed to be a sort of World’s Fair experience, but I don’t know. Things change. Bring back Horizons.
At any rate, Spaceship Earth stands tall as the park’s premiere attraction, a winding journey through the history of human communication, housed inside an 18-story geodesic sphere. Fun fact: Ray Bradbury helped with its design, and also wrote the attraction’s original script.