Some people like to live dangerously, and in the cases of these particular homes, we mean that literally – imagine waking up every morning and being afraid for your life! Some of these houses were designed as architectural anomalies that engineers claimed couldn’t be built, while others were constructed right on the edge of a thousand-foot-high cliff. Whatever it may be, the people who designed and live in these strange and dangerous houses clearly live for a jolt of adrenaline!
This bizarre-looking structure is known as Takasugi-an, a teahouse in Nagano, Japan built out of cut-down trees jammed into the ground. To get up to the teahouse, guests must climb up one rickety ladder, remove their shoes, then climb up a second rickety ladder. Inside the teahouse is cozy and quaint, but fair warning: the structure may sway back and forth in the wind. Apparently whoever built the structure had a sense of humor, because “Takasugi-an” means “too high” in Japanese.
Sutyagin House, Russia
Beginning in 1992, the Sutyagin House was constructed over the course of 15 years by Nikolai Petrovich Sutyagin, a crime lord in Arkhangelsk, Russia. Originally the house was supposed to be just three stories, but the Sutyagin family kept adding floors until they got to 13 (without any sort of building permit or real plans, mind you), rendering it the tallest wooden house in the world. In 2008, the city authorities declared the structure a fire hazard, and it was taken down. But let’s be honest here – it’s probably better that way.
Phoenix House, Hawaii
If you’ve ever wanted to sleep underneath an active Hawaiian volcano, you’re in luck because the Phoenix House is available on Airbnb! The Phoenix House is located just outside of the danger zone of Kilauea on Hawaii’s Big Island – meaning that lava flows very close by during an eruption. Not to mention, Kilauea is currently one of the most active volcanoes in the world, so you’re pretty much guaranteed to see some action should you choose to vacation there!
Drina River House, Serbia
The Drina River House, located in the middle of the Drina River near the town of Bajina Bašta in Serbia, was originally constructed in 1968 by two brothers. Unfortunately it quickly washed away during the rainy season, but in subsequent years it was rebuilt. The house gained international fame during the first annual Drina Regatta of 1994, which involves around 20,000 people passing by it. Today it’s one of the most photographed places in Serbia.
Elliðaey Island, Iceland
You may call yourself an introvert, but are you introverted enough to live in the most isolated house in the world? This lonely abode is located on Elliðaey Island, just off the southern coast of Iceland, and once served as a hunting lodge. There’s also an old storage building on the island that was used by biologists at one point. So what makes this place dangerous, you ask? Well, let’s just say good luck getting to a doctor if you have the misfortune of falling and breaking your leg.
Castellfollit de la Roca, Spain
Castellfollit de la Roca is a town in Catalonia, Spain, located at the junction of two rivers on top of a 160-foot-tall basalt cliff that was formed as the result of the overlaying of two lava flows. The thousand-year-old town is nearly one kilometer long and is home to just under 1,000 people. There’s a tiny street that skirts in between the houses in case you need to get somewhere. Now, just imagine having a cliff drop-off for a backyard…
Chemosphere, Los Angeles
The Chemosphere is an octagon-shaped one-story house in Los Angeles with 2,200 square feet of living space, built on top of a five-feet-wide concrete column that’s nearly 30 feet above the ground. It was designed by John Lautner in 1960 and was at one point deemed “the most modern home built in the world.” It is particularly praised for its innovative design, which accounts for the fact that the house was built on a 45-degree slope.
Just Room Enough Island, New York
Straddling the Canada-US border in the Saint Lawrence River in northern New York is Hub Island, also known as Just Room Enough Island. At just 3,300 square feet, Just Room Enough Island is the smallest inhabited island in the world, but as its name promises, it has just enough room for a house, a tree, and a small beach. The island was purchased by the Sizeland family in the 1950s as a secluded vacation house, but unfortunately for them, as soon as people caught word of the house it wasn’t so private anymore.
Shadowcliff, Lake Michigan
Designed by architect Harry Weese, Shadowcliff is a glass box house anchored into a cliff that extends over Lake Michigan. It was originally constructed as a vacation office for Ben W. Heineman, an advisor to Lyndon B. Johnson. It may look terrifying, but Weese ensured that it was securely built, being able to withstand winds up to 90 miles per hour. Its most noteworthy feature is, without a doubt, the glass window in the floor that looks down onto the cliff below.
Solvay Hut, Switzerland
Tucked away on the side of the Matterhorn in the Alps is this tiny little hut that was constructed as a place of refuge for mountain climbers to briefly get out of extreme weather conditions or just to rest for a few minutes. It’s certainly quite small, but big enough to hold about 10 people if necessary. It also contains an emergency phone line in the case of an avalanche or injury that requires being airlifted off the mountain.
Falling Water House, Pennsylvania
Just as the name implies, the Falling Water House was built on top of a waterfall in Pennsylvania, surrounded by forest. But unfortunately the Falling Water House, which was designed by legendary architect Frank Lloyd Wright, wasn’t exactly constructed with longevity or security in mind. The floors weren’t strong enough to hold the house up and the beams began cracking under pressure – so much so that $11 million dollars had to be raised in order to fix the errors.
Meteora Monasteries, Greece
The Meteora, located in central Greece, is the home of one of the largest and highest-built Eastern Orthodox monastery complexes in the world. The original 24 monasteries were built atop the natural pillars during the latter part of the 14th century in order to avoid being raided. Today only six remain, and each one houses fewer than 10 people. So how do the people who live there get in and out? Originally, it was only accessible via rope, but luckily today there are stairs conveniently carved into the rock formations.
Tiger’s Nest Monastery, Bhutan
You’ve probably taken note by now that monks have a tendency to live life on the edge…literally. This is indeed the case for the monks who have inhabited Tiger’s Nest Monastery in Bhutan. Visitors must hike for a minimum of two hours to get to the monastery, which sits at nearly 3,000 feet on a cliff. If you ever find yourself in Bhutan and don’t mind the heights, definitely check this place out because it’s said to be absolutely spectacular.
Leaning Towers of Santos, Brazil
As it turns out, Italy isn’t the only place with a leaning tower. But while the Leaning Tower of Pisa is meant as a tourist attraction, the leaning towers of Santos in Brazil actually have tenants living in them. Ideally the foundation for these buildings would’ve been laid deeper into the group, but lax building codes allowed for them to be hastily built into soft clay, resulting in them leaning to one side. While they do look rather peculiar, this could spell disaster in the event of an earthquake.
The Hanging Houses of Cuenca, Spain
The origin of the Hanging Houses, or Las Casas Colgadas as they’re known in Spanish, is largely unknown to historians, although there is proof that they existed as far back as the 15th century. They look like they’re perfectly built into the rock, don’t they? Nowadays the Hanging Houses play host to a restaurant, as well as the Spanish Museum of Abstract Arts. Perhaps unsurprisingly, they’re known as the most famous buildings in all of Cuenca.
The Cliff House, Australia
This cliff house is located in Victoria, Australia and, as you can clearly see, it is not for those with a fear of heights. The five-story house is attached to the vertical face of a cliff and was designed by observing the way that barnacles fasten themselves to ships. And in case all of this isn’t nerve-wracking enough for you, the roof of the house acts as the garage, so you can add even more weight on top! Ready to move in yet?