17 Unusual Buildings in London, England

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One may say that London is like a patchwork quilt of architecture – everything was stitched together so now there’s an amalgam of styles, each of them standing out for being incredibly unique.

Some buildings are more than a thousand years old and as a result, are made of brick and stone meanwhile, some are new and reflect a modern form of architecture with glass and metal.

Luckily, you can visit them all during your trip to London as so many of them are centrally located and near an Underground station which connects to a variety of different tracks across the city.

1. “M” by Montcalm, Tech City

When you initially look at M by Montcalm, you always feel like you need to take a second glance – not because it has any fancy designs and patterns, but because you’re not exactly certain what you are looking at.

Designed by Squire and Partners, this building was made to look like an elongated diamond – being sort of an optical illusion when you pass on Tech City’s City Road.

This smart hotel building found in the Shoreditch area has been around since 2008, and you may easily get to it from the Old Street Tube station, Barbican Tube Station, or the Moorgate Tube Station.  

2. The Pagoda, Blackheath

Yes, you are still in London – but this building has the kind of roof that reminds you of Chinese architecture. It’s quite strange, considering the location of the building. Designed by Sir William Chambers and built in 1760, this house served as the home of the Earl of Cardigan, who lived in Montague House.

The house in Blackheath used to be packed with gardens and orchards, being quite a beautiful vacation spot.

The underground Tube route will drop you right at the Blackheath Station, from which you can walk to the building. Bear in mind that it’s almost a one-hour walk, but you can also grab a bus or a cab.

3. Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, Nasden

Also known as the Nasden temple, this Hindu temple is quite peculiar in London, as it is very different in comparison to other pieces of architecture.

Found in the Neasden area of London, this building was first opened in 1970 as a tribute to traditional Indian architecture. The design was a “group work,” so to speak, as it included the visual and conceptual design of Pramukh Swami and architect C.GB. Soompura.

You may get there by taking the Jubilee tube line to the Neasen Underground Station, from which you can walk. 

4. “Walkie Talkie,” 20 Fenchurch Street

London is quite a peculiar place because as you are walking up Fenchurch Street, you stumble across a building that looks pretty much like a giant walkie talkie.

Designed by the architect Rafael Viñoly and completed in spring 2014 (with its opening in June 2015), this building is named after the street on which it is situated – but commonly, people refer to it as the “Walkie Talkie.”

You can easily reach this unusual building by getting down at the Monument Tube Station, Bank Tube Station, or the Cannon Street Tube Station.

5. The Churchill Arms, Kensington

Do you want to stop by somewhere for a pint, but you also want to explore the intriguing and unusual buildings? Well, head to West London, Kensington, at the Churchill Arms pub and enjoy a nice pint of your favourite ale.

It was built in 1750, but the name of the architect is still shrouded in mystery, but it is believed that they were associated with Winston Churchill.

The building may not have any fancy architectural quirks, but the fact that it’s surrounded pretty much “head to toe” with flowers makes it quite intriguing. You might get there by taking the underground route to Notting Hill Gate. 

6. Thin Building, South Kensington

Nowadays, we see buildings that look bigger and bigger – but if you go to Thurloe Square in South Kensington, you can see a building that is 34ft wide when you look at it at the front – and 7ft wide when you look at it from the sides.

It seems like it’s missing a part, but the building was particularly designed this way to accommodate the Circle and District lines running just behind it.

Unfortunately, at the time of our visit, there was work being done on the building.

The building features several one-room studios that, while small, are quite intriguing. The closest tube station is at South Kensington, but you may also get off at Gloucester Road or Knightsbridge.

It’s not entirely certain when the building was built (or who designed it), but the style of the structure dates back to the 80s or 90s. 

7. Kings Cross Station

While many people use this building every day and have seen it a number of times, have you actually stopped and looked at how unusual it actually is? The building itself has some like feature in the middle which creates the sense of light.

The building of Kings Cross Station was designed by Lewis Cubitt and was opened to the public in October of 1852. It was once considered the largest railway station in the UK, though Kings Cross is still famous for a number of things.

8. The Olympic Velopark, Stanford

Designed by the Hopkins architects and the Grant Associates, this building was finished in 2011 in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park of Stanford but was only opened to the public in 2014.

It might not look like much from the ground – it’s a very long building with maybe a slightly strange roof, but that roof has a great purpose. Its curved appearance resembling a Pringle has the purpose of collecting rainwater and deflecting sunlight – making it not only an eco-friendly construction but also a comfy one.

You’ll be able to view this incredible and highly unusual building by getting to the Leyton Tube Station, the Stanford Tube Station, or the Hackney Wick Overground Station.

9. City Hall, Southwark

The city hall is the office of the London mayor – and it looks pretty much like a slanting beehive that is engulfed by light. Foster + Partners designed it, and the building became open to the public in 2002.

The city hall is located in Southwark, right on the River Thames bank, which is why it brings out so many tourists. Take the tube to Queen’s Walk, and you should be able to find your way out from there. 

10. Barrett’s Grove, Stoke Newington

This disjointed-looking building has been turning heads in Stoke Newington ever since 2015, mostly because it has an intriguing doll-house figure.

Amin Taha Architects have used timber frames, lattice brick facades, and whicker balconies, making it an idyllic construction while still in the town frame. You may easily get there by taking the subway to Stoke Newington – the structure being fairly hard to miss.

11. The Vase

While not as well known to many compared to the Shard it is an impressive building. The building is also known as ‘The Boomerang’ but formally known as One Blackfriars.

The Vase is an astonishing 50 storeys high (163m/535ft) and was designed by the award-winning SimpsonHaugh & Partners Architects. While not one of the largest buildings in London it definitely comes under the unusual category as the sleek shiny shape of the building becomes such a contrast to the sharp edges of its surroundings.

You may also notice it stands out as there are no other skyscrapers in the immediate vicinity making it look more appealing and proud.

12. The Shard

I always find The Shard impressive and it is a building that isn’t just great to look at but a great place to go for a view over London itself. The Shard was designed by Italian Architect Renzo Piano.

While the Shard is famous for its looks, incredible views over London it is also famous for being the tallest building in England. The building measures 309.6 metres tall with 72 storeys of offices, a viewing platform and even a restaurant where you can enjoy a meal or afternoon tea.

13. The Gherkin

The Gherkin is iconic and unusual due to its sleek, facade with intricate design and smooth point. The building has 41 floors and measured 180 metres (591 ft) tall. The building is home to offices, shops and dining opportunities along with incredible views spanning across London.

Formally known as 30 St Mary Axe is a commercial skyscraper in London’s primary financial district. The construction of the building was completed in December 2003 and opened in April 2004.

14. Harrods

Harrods is iconic for so many reasons and is one of the most elite and incredible places to shop for everything you could need under one roof. Harrods for me is an extremely unusual building as there is no other retail space that spans over several floors and street space.

While the retail side of the building is impressive it is mainly the building that is impressive. Harrods occupies 5-acre site and has 1.1 million sq ft of retail space. Harrods moved to the current building in 1884 and has been there ever since, though information on when the building itself was built is unclear.

At Harrods, you can do everything from shop the finest of jewellery to souvenirs and even go for afternoon tea, a small snack at the cafe or settle in for a more extensive meal.

15. Royal Courts Of Justice

The Royal Courts Of Justice or also known as the Law Courts is unusual to see compared to the new and edgy buildings such as The Shard and The Gherkin.

The building was designed by George Edmund Street who unfortunately died before the building was completed. The building was built in the Victorian Gothic style and was opened by Queen Victoria in 1882. There are many other buildings that are close to that style but this is one of the most impressive.

16. St Pancras Renaissance Hotel

While I am talking about the hotel as it stands it was formerly known as the Midland Grand Hotel that was designed by Geroge Gilbert Scott and it was opened in 1873 and closed in 1935. The building then went on to be used as railway offices and then became Grade I listed in1967.

The building is both stunning and grand and is a definite unusual contrast to the current day architecture surrounding the building along with the extension of the railway section known at St Pancras. The building has an impressive clock tower that measures 76m tall with only half of the height being usable space.

17. The Victoria & Albert Museum

Another old and classical building that can often be overlooked in London for the shiny and modern skyscrapers. The V&A has been at home in many buildings since its creation but the current residence is probably one of the most notable in size, structure and architecture.

The V&A covers 12.5 acres (5.1 ha) and 145 galleries. The building is impressive and reflects aspects of the Victorian Gothic architecture seen in the Royal Courts of Justice.