With World Architecture Day falling this month, it’s the perfect time to visit some of the UK’s weird and wonderful buildings. From the Shark House to the Pineapple, there are loads of architectural oddities to explore, whether on a day trip or even an overnight stay.

The Shark House, Oxford, England

The Shark House, Headington, Oxford
The Shark House, Headington, Oxford

At first glance, it appears to be a normal house in a row of Oxford terraces. But look up and you’ll see a 25-foot shark crashing through the roof. Former owner Bill Heine commissioned sculptor John Buckley to create the one-off fibreglass sculpture. It caused quite a stir when it appeared in the 1980s – without planning permission – and Oxford City Council worked to have it removed. Over the years, it’s become an accepted, if unusual, feature of the street. You can even stay in the Shark House, for a holiday with a difference. Check it out on Airbnb.

Portmeirion, Minffordd, Wales

Portmeirion, Minffordd, Wales
Portmeirion, Minffordd, Wales

You’d be forgiven for thinking you’d stumbled upon an Italian village when you visit Portmeirion. It’s a magical jumble of colourful buildings, set among lush woodland and dramatic cliffs. Dreamed up by Welsh architect Sir Clough Williams-Ellis, it took over 50 years to perfect. He designed Portmeirion as an Italian village and included an eclectic array of architecture. It boasts plenty to keep tourists entertained, including sandy beaches, a piazza and a gelateria. It’s easy to see why it’s attracted so many notable visitors over the years, from author H. G. Wells to the Beatles’ George Harrison. A visit to Portmeirion will transport you to Italy without even stepping on a plane.

The Pineapple, Dunmore, Scotland
The Pineapple, Dunmore, Scotland

This pineapple-shaped property was commissioned by the 4th Earl of Dunmore as a summerhouse, from which to enjoy views over his vast estate. In the 18th century, pineapples were exotic fruits in Scotland, so it was a display of social standing to have one to eat, let alone one to relax in. The Earl was also the Governor of Virginia, a colony where sailors often added pineapples to their gateposts to mark their return from sea. This custom likely influenced him to build his fruity folly after returning from Virginia. Walkhighlands has a walking route that passes by the Pineapple and through the Dunmore Estate. You can book a holiday in the Pineapple too.

The Leadenhall Building (the Cheesegrater), London, England

The Leadenhall Building stands out among neighbouring skyscrapers for one reason – it looks remarkably like a cheesegrater. Its unusual shape was dreamed up by architects Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners, adding a touch more quirkiness to London’s eclectic skyline. The building is supported by a steel frame and stretches a dizzying 224 metres into the sky. It was designed with a slanted glass front, so as not to obscure views of nearby St Paul’s Cathedral. Admire the award-winning building from the outside or visit its ground floor plaza for a different perspective.

The Smallest House in Great Britain, Conwy, Wales

The Smallest House in Great Britain, or ‘Smalls’, can be found along Conwy’s quayside. You’ll soon spot the bright red building, despite it being a miniscule 122 inches high, 72 inches wide and 120 inches deep. This teeny-tiny building only has two cramped rooms and 1.5 metres squared of utilisable floor space. The Guinness World Record holder has a bed and bookshelves but no space for a toilet. This didn’t put tenants off though, with several people calling it home. Its most recent tenant, Robert Jones, even stood at a statuesque 6-foot 3 inches tall! Smalls hasn’t been lived in since 1900 and is now open to the public. Why not visit The Smallest House as part of a Conwy walk? There’s a lovely route of around two miles, that takes in Smalls, the River Conwy and the town walls.

The Royal Liver Building, Liverpool, England

The Royal Liver Building, Liverpool, England
The Royal Liver Building, Liverpool, England

The Royal Liver Building has been a much-loved Liverpool landmark for over 100 years. It’s often claimed to be the first skyscraper in Europe, and it certainly looks like it’s straight out of a US city. According to The Guide Liverpool, it even represented a Washington DC building in an episode of The Crown. It also features two mythical Liver Birds, each perched on one of its clock towers. One bird looks out over the city (to protect it) and the other over the River Mersey (to guide boats into port). Find out more on a tour of the Royal Liver Building.

Plan your architectural adventure with an Ordnance Survey map

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