8 Of The World’s Most Unique Building Facades


 Facades play an integral role in the overall aesthetics of a building.

Yes, the interior may look dazzling and whatnot, but if the exterior is rather plain, or to be blunt, an eyesore, this can have less than desirable implications.

Architects know that a building’s exterior is just as important as its interior and are constantly trying to create unique designs which are also visually appealing.

Here at The Urban Developer, we have sourced 8 building facades which we believe go beyond the norm and exemplify architectural uniqueness.

Hue Apartments  


: Residential


: Richmond, Victoria, AustraliaBuilt in 2008, this 5 level apartment building certainly stands in stark contrast to your average apartment building.

The striking box-shaped piece was designed by Jackson Clements Burrows Architects, an award winning firm based in Melbourne.

Cased with stained cedar, the exterior of Hue Apartments has been embedded with circular windows of different sizes. While there’s nothing particularly bold about circular windows, here their varying sizes placed at different heights makes for an eye-catching sight.

The windows have been strategically placed to allow sunlight to permeate them, giving the building an almost ethereal-like quality and securing its place on our list.

Finally, making the exterior walls free of ridges gives it a smooth appearance which we don’t usually see in apartment buildings.

This is a fine example of how something doesn’t need to be extravagant in order to be unique.

Aqua Tower


: Mixed-use residential tower


: Chicago, Illinois, United States

Aqua Tower, an impressive 82-story mixed-use residential tower, was designed by Studio Gang Architects and awarded the prestigious Emporis Skyscraper Award in 2009.

We were captivated by its distinctive façade which drew its inspiration from the striated limestone outcroppings commonly found in Great Lakes.

One’s gaze is immediately drawn to the asymmetrical slabs protruding from the tower which are actually extended balconies.

The use of such slabs turn what could have been an average skyscraper into an architectural piece which demands your attention. On first glance they create an almost optical illusion in which it appears part of the Great Lakes has been entrenched in the tower.

We learnt that the balconies were extended not only to create an appealing façade but also to boost solar shading; one of Aqua’s many sustainability features.

House 77  


: Residential


: Póvoa de Varzim, Portugal

House 77

is a privately owned house which was designed by dIONISO LAB in 2010.

It’s not often you come across a home that makes you stop and try and decipher whether it truly even is a home. Concealed in stainless steel panels which have been embellished with various symbols, the façade evokes a sense of mystery and intrigue which is amplified when closed off.

The city has a strong connection to fishing and the sea and the symbols which are called “siglas poveiras” were once used eons ago to mark personal and fishing belongings and to communicate.


also took sustainability into account with the steel panels protecting the interior setting from insulation.

Similarly, the façade at the back of the house makes use of aluminium blinds to act as barriers.

McDonalds, Georgia


: Commercial


: Batumi, Georgia

This impressive structure designed by Giorgi Khmaladze in 2013 certainly bears no resemblance to your average Maccas.

This development is home not only to McDonalds but to a petrol station, recreational areas and a reflective pool.

Futuristic and sleek, the façade is made up of 460 angular glass panels. If not for the McDonald’s logo or drive thru menus, it could easily be mistaken for an upscale restaurant.

Sustainability wise, the panels are low-E and custom designed with ceramic frit pattern that reduces sunlight infiltrating the dining areas during the warmer months.


Basque Health Department Headquarters


: Healthcare


: Bilbao, SpainIt’s fair to say that working in a building like this would make going to work a lot more fun for many people.

The Basque Health Department Headquarters, built in 2008, owes its design to Coll-Barreu Arquitectos.

The building is double-skinned with a reflective façade made of polyhedral glass. Its folded nature compliments the glass exterior and yields various views of the city.

The combination of these elements makes the building appear surreal and hypnotic. Additionally, the use of polyhedral glass gives it an air of elegance.

As a result of utilising the double-skin method, there is no need for air-conditioning and a false ceiling which means that the building produces less noise, air recirculation is eradicated and volume per floor is reduced. It was also a way to satisfy the city’s zoning regulations.

18 Kowloon East 


Mixed-use building


: Kowloon Bay, Hong Kong, China

Built in 2010, 18 Kowloon East is a mixed-use building which was designed by Aedas.

Kowloon Bay is largely industrial community and are seeking to make the area more environmentally friendly.

Hence, Aedas sought to produce something different from the industrial blocks dominating the community; something more sustainable in an environmental sense.

With rows of plants fused between the carpark and the tower, this feature of 16 Kowloon East improves the quality of air in the carpark by filtering the air and infuses some green into the neighbourhood.

While the best facades have a strong and necessary emphasis on sustainability, we liked how Aedas focused their sustainability measures on the environment in a way that’s visually appealing.

New York by Gehry  


: Mixed-use building


: New York, New York, United States
Currently the tallest residential tower in the Western Hemisphere, and amongst the tallest in the world, New York by Gehry was designed by Frank Gehry.

It opened in 2011 and was the recipient of the Emporis Skyscraper Award the same year.

While your eyes may be immediately drawn to it because of its extravagant height, it’s the distinctive façade designed in the style of deconstructivism that will hold your gaze.

The exterior is made from stainless steel and designed to appear rippled in juxtaposition with the more traditional glass skyscrapers we see in New York.





: Melbourne, Australia

Completed in 2010, Pixel was designed by studio505 and is the first carbon neutral building in Australia.

It received a green star rating of 105 and won awards such as the Banksia Award and the BPN Sustainability Award; just a few of the many it received domestically and internationally.

Boasting a multi-coloured façade of bright colours, the exterior seeks to do more than please the eye. It operates to provide a shade screen, windows of the double glazed variety, ventilation and daylighting.

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