Horror movies? Pffft. These real-life scary architecture projects are truly frightful.
Thoughtful architecture makes us see the world differently. But while architects are frequently praised for their work’s beauty, functionality or vision, sometimes, they create things that are meant to chill – or downright frighten. And here, in celebration of Halloween, are a few projects we’d be terrified to visit (even if we can’t look away).
Skylodge Capsule Hotels (Sacred Valley, Peru)
Afraid of heights? Then we’re warning you: look away. In Sacred Valley, in Peru’s Andean highlands, the travel-adventure company Natura Vive has built capsule hotels into the side of a mountain – and they’re suspended atop a 365-metre mountain. Each 24 by 8 metre “bedroom” is built from sturdy polycarbonate and aerospace aluminum, and each eight-person suite features six windows and four ventilation ducts. Visitors must climb 400 metres to reach each pod then enter through a top-mounted hatch.
Each suite is inspired by portaledge, a hanging tent used by rock climbers. They’re comfortable, with each pod outfitted with beds, solar powered lamps and dry ecological toilets and sinks. But the view, even if it looks over a majestic valley under the open skies, is the main attraction. Natura Vive offers ziplining among the condors, too.
Casa del Acantilado (Granada, Spain)
Sleep in the belly of the beast if you dare. In the steep hills of Granada, Spain, Madrid’s Gilbartolomé has built a controversial – if slightly menacing – house that, from a distance, looks like a scowling dragon. The structure, built into a 42-degree hilly incline, is defined by its roof: built on a formwork system with formable metal mesh, the roof is clad with handcrafted zinc scales – each flipped up to catch the light. It looks like something straight out of Game of Thrones, and perhaps that’s intentional.
“We have a much higher emotional response to animals than to other humans or objects,” Gilbartolomé’s Pablo Gil told Azure, “so we have tried to make a facade that evokes the idea of an animal and therefore provokes our fascination.”
The interior, however, is far less menacing. The two-storey building features a kitchen and living room that opens up to a private pool, while all three of its bedrooms have balconies overlooking the sea.
Berlin Holocaust Memorial (Berlin, Germany)
Studio Libeskind’s newly opened Canadian Holocaust memorial in Ottawa, Ontario, is meant to remember the past while peering into the future. Peter Eisenman’s equivalent in Berlin, built in 2005, has a decidedly different point. Built on a 1.9-hectare plot, the memorial is made from a series of 2,711 undulating stele (stone slabs), which, when viewed in its totality, resembles an ominous field of coffin-shaped tombstones.
That’s only part of the point, though. The slabs remain nameless, and unlike other international monuments, Eisenman doesn’t present any historical information to contextualize the memorial. Silently – but clearly – it articulates the horrific scale of Nazi atrocities, and its indiscriminate anonymity is profoundly unsettling. Eisenman described it as a “football field-sized nightmare.” We’re inclined to agree.
For H.P. Lovecraft fans, Digital Grotesque II is the stuff of dreams. For the rest of us, it’s the stuff of nightmares. Made by architects Benjamin Dillenburger and Michael Hansmeyer, this 3.5 metre grotto was designed by an algorithm and 3-D printed using 7 tons of sandstone. The result was a collection of “multi-layered structures” that forms an “organic landscape between the man-made and the natural.”
Digital Grotesque II
The architects note that unlike man-made creations, 3-D printing allowed them to create detail at the scale of millimetres, which gives Digital Grotesque II – made for a 3-D printing exhibit at Paris’ Centre Pompidou – that kind of porous detail usually associated with the animal kingdom. Development of the structure took two years of planning; printing took one month; and it was assembled in two days. Et voila! Cthulhu’s lair was born.
Coiling Dragon Cliff skywalk (Hunan Province, China)
Glass floors in tall buildings, like the 350-metre-high observation deck in Tokyo’s Skytree, have been known to unsettle the strongest stomachs. But few glass walkways are a terrifying as the Coiling Dragon Cliff skywalk in Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, located in China’s Hunan Province. Designed by Israeli architect Haim Dotan, the skywalk reaches an elevation of 1,403 metres and includes a 180-metre-long glass bridge that, should you brave it, will provide photos (and vertigo) for years to come.
Open since August 2016, the bridge has been dubbed the walk of faith because, well, listen to the thing creak in the video below. So, is it structurally sound? It certainly seems to be – in June, park officials drove a car full of people on the bridge and smashed it with a sledgehammer. Be still, our thumping hearts.