10. Habitat 67 – Montreal, Canada (1967)

Created for the International and Universal Exposition held in Montreal, Quebec, Canada in 1967 (considered by some to be the most successful World’s Fair of all time), Habitat was designed by Israeli-Canadian architect Moshe Safdie. What started out as a master’s thesis in architecture at McGill University was built as a pavilion for Expo 67. The architectural marvel contains 354 identifcal concrete units that are just arranged and stacked differently. Each unit has its own private terrace, up to 90 square meters in size.

Habitat 67

Habitat 67

Habitat seen from above

Photographer: Brian Pirie from Ottawa, Canada

9. Nakagin Capsule Tower – Tokyo, Japan (1972)

Remember that scene in The Fifth Element where Korben and Leeloo sleep in a capsule-like room on their way to Fhlostan Paradise? Well, now you know where Luc Besson got the idea for these cylindrical, cramped spaces from. Designed by Kisho Kurokawa, the Nakagin Capsule Tower is an early example of “Japanese Metabolism” and the first example of capsule architecture. Unfortunately, only 30 of the dilapidated tower’s 140 capsules are still in use as of 2010.

Nagakin Capsule Tower Seen from Outside

Photographer: Yusunkwon from Cambridge, Massachusetts

Inside a Nakagin capsule with a  bed and window

Inside a Nakagin capsule. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

8. Cubic Houses – Rotterdam, Netherlands (1977)

Called Kubuswoningen in Dutch, the Cube houses were designed by Piet Blom and built on top of a bridge. Each house is a hexagon-shaped pylon topped by a cube tilted at 45 degrees from the base. In essence, Kubuswoningen is supposed to resemble a row of trees. Blom had originally envisioned a woonwoud, or a “living wood”, that called for many more tree homes. But his dream was never realized.

Cubic Houses seen from street

Photographer: Katerina Kirkorian

Cubic Houses seen from afar

Cubic Houses

7. Hundertwasserhaus – Vienna, Austria (1986)

Piet Blom would have probably loved to meet the duo behind this naturalistic village. Hundertwasserhaus was built off a concept by Austrian artist Friendensreich Hundertwasser and designed by Joseph Krawina. While the houses themselves aren’t mind-blowing, the concept of a layered city overgrown with nature is pretty cool.

Hundertwasserhaus facade

Photographer: Andrzej Barabas

Hundertwasser Haus - Detail of one section

Photographer: Martina Grosty

6. Container City 1 & 2 – London, UK (2001)

It was inevitable. Unused cargo containers clog up docks all over the world. Urban Space Management just happened to be smart enough and motivated enough to make housing units out of them. Several more “container cities” have sprung up since the first, but only in London. Thankfully, Urban Space is in talks with NYC authorities about building the first container city in NYC. New Meatpacking District offerings, perhaps?

Container City 1 seen from outside with parking

Container City 1 | Photographer: Fin Fahey

2nd floor Corridor linking Container City 1 and 2

2nd Floor Corridor linking Container City 1 and 2 | Photographer: Cmglee

Inside spacious studio at Container City 1.

Studio Apartment at Container City | Photographer: Cmglee

5. VM Apartments – Copenhagen, Denmark (2004)

Officially known as the “VM Houses”, this project was designed by JDS Architects and Bjarke Ingels Group. At a glance, it’s hard to even understand what you’re seeing. The spiky extrusions on each unit are apparently meant to encourage privacy – a resident on the 3rd floor can’t see the apartments of his neighbors, for example, but can still enjoy the view. There are 209 units all told.

VM Houses seen from outside

VM Houses | Photographer: cjreddaway

Metro platform next to VM Houses

Metro Platform next to VM Houses | Photographer: marcoooz

4. Reversible Destiny Lofts – Mitaka, Japan (2005)

Aside from having the best existential name on this list, the Reversible Destiny Lofts are the first example of “procedural architecture” for residential use. In English, this means that the units are designed with the habits of their inhabitants in mind. Everything from the shapes of corridors to the distribution of rooms is thoughtful. We’re not sure if that applies to the colors, though. Random fact: the lofts are actually dedicated to the memory of Helen Keller.

Exterior Detail of the Reversible Destiny Lofts in Tokyo

Exterior Detail of the Reversible Destiny Lofts

Reversible Destiny Lofts - Seen from Afar

Reversible Destiny Lofts Exterior

3. HSB Turning Torso –  Malmö, Sweden (2005)

This highrise is the tallest building in the nordic countries (Sweden, Finland, Norway, Denmark, Iceland).  The dizzying design spans 54 stories and includes and includes 147 apartments and condos.   The building’s construction cost were almost double the initial estimate (not exactly a surprise); despite its cost, several newer highrises have used a similar twisting designs, including The Cayan Tower, which is included in this list.

HSB Turning Torso seen from afar.

HSB Turning Torso | Photographer: Mirko Junge

Turning Torso seen from below

Photographer: sv:User:Knuckles

2. The Cayan Tower – Dubai, United Arab Emirates (2013)

Just launched in June 2013, Dubai’s Cayan Tower is a sight to see.  The building twists a full 90 degrees, with each of it’s 76 stories twisting 1.2 degrees.  The building reaches 1,004 feet, sits next to the water, and is now mixed use, but mostly residential.

Dubai's Cayan Tower Seen from the Harbor

The Cayan Tower | Photographer: Losttraveller via Creative Commons


The Cayan Tower Seen from Afar

The Cayan Tower | Photographer: Imad marie

1. The Interlace – Singapore (2014)

Set to open in late 2013 or 2014, Interlace is one of the most exciting projects in recent memory. Potentially OMA’s magnum opus, the sprawling complex will contain over 1000 units spread over 31 apartment blocks each 6 stories tall. The arrangement of the units will provide a generous view for each resident while also conserving space horizontally rather than vertically. OMA hopes that Interlace will change the way big cities think about living space.  Reserve your apartment at The Interlace.

The interlace seen from below

The Interlace | Photographer: chooyutshing, on Flicker

Footbridge on the interlace as seen from below

The Footbridges at The Interlace