Your idea of a risky house might be one in a bad neighborhood, or it might have a few imperfections, but is it really that risky? The average suburban home has nothing on these. From a house dangling precariously from trees to a hut on a rock in a raging river, here are 15 of the riskiest houses in the world.
15. Lichtenstein Castle
If Lichtenstein Castle looks familiar to you, but you haven’t seen it in person, then you may have recalled it in the Disney fairy-tale Sleeping Beauty, the German adaption. Lichtenstein is a beautiful castle on an escarpment on the northwestern edge of the Swabian Jura in southern Germany.
It was built in a lovely Gothic styling in 1840, is privately owned, and was inspired by the novel Lichtenstein. While it’s most certainly a beautiful tourist attraction, it would make quite a risky house.
The Lichtenstein Castle sits hazardously around 820 feet above the Chaz River with an altitude of 2,680 feet in the Reutlingen District. We can’t think of anything more challenging than trying to lug a full week’s grocery shopping up those towering staircases.
Fortunately, renovations after World War II have made this castle safer and easier to access. The roof and upper floor were restored in 2002, along with walls, and public tours are available for most of the rooms. Those who visit can also see the gun emplacements from the courtyard, which is open to the general public.
14. Takasugi-an, Japan
Afraid of heights? Then you probably don’t want to visit Takasugi-an in Japan. For if it’s not the height that will scare you (but it probably will), then it will be the way in which these tea house owners have given it height. On top of two tree trunks.
Building tea houses is not uncommon in Japan. Neither are treehouses, which seem to pop up in the strangest of places. However, on a plot of land in Chino, Nagano Prefecture, one family was on the next level.
This tea house has been built on two extended trunks with a no-frills, simplistic design, led by architect Terunobu Fujimori. It’s quite a small tea house at 29 square feet, with enough space for four and a half tatami mats. It’s simple and small, but that’s exactly how Terunobu Fujimori wants it. He believes the building is an extension of one’s body, “like a piece of clothing.”
This tea house differs from many others like it in Japan, but Terunobu’s goal was to push limits and constraints, rather than focus purely on the art of tea making.
13. Sutyagin House, Russia
To look at the Sutyagin House in Russia, it’s immediately evident that no housing permits were granted. Not only does this 13-story abode look like a picture from a child’s coloring book, but it barely looks safe. And it probably wasn’t.
Local Russian entrepreneur Nikolai Petrovich Sutyagin was the owner of this house, which was thought to be the tallest wooden house in Russia. It was 13 stories, 144 feet tall, and crafted entirely out of wood over 15 years, beginning in 1992.
It would be hard enough to live in this house, but imagine trying to cook in it? One lit match, and you’d be seeing your life flashing before your eyes.
And that’s exactly what the fire department thought. When Nikolai ended up in prison on racketeering charges and the structure deteriorated, the city condemned it as a fire hazard. By December 2008, the tower component was pulled down, and the rest was dismantled early the following year.
You’ve got to give Nikolai points for creativity, but this property was easily one of the riskiest homes in the world.
12. Gate of Europe Towers
Every major city has towers, which means it hard to make your city stand out from the crowd. Of course, you could create the tallest tower the world has ever seen, but Dubai and Tokyo seem to have these titles already and plan to hold onto them. So, if you’re going to build a tower, what’s a good way to make sure it gets noticed? Well, you build it on a lean.
And, no, we’re not talking about the Leaning Tower of Pisa, although they had the right idea. We’re talking about the Gate of Europe Towers in Madrid, Spain. These two towers, which go by the name of Kio Towers, are twin office buildings at 374 feet high. They are the second tallest of their kind in Spain, and also have a 15-degree lean angle.
The 26-floor buildings with helipads on top went under construction in 1989 and were finished in 1996. They were designed by American architects John Burgee and Philip Johnson, and are easily accessible from the Chamartin Railway Station in the heart of Madrid.
Even though the Gate of Europe Towers is designed and built by experts, we can’t help but wonder whether it feels like you actually are on a 15-degree angle once inside.
11. WoZoCo Apartments, Holland
It was just a joke, a comment made out of desperation, but as it turns out, it was entirely achievable. What are we talking about? The WoZoCo Apartments in Holland, with real-life apartments slapped onto the side of a large building. You’d have to see it to believe it.
A giant housing corporation was in a bit of a pickle. They needed 100 units to house elderly residents but in a gallery-type circulation. The site they had chosen didn’t end up being suitable after they carried out preliminary studies. But that wasn’t the end of it.
The project management company, MVRDV, met with the housing corporation to find out what to do next. Half joking, MVRDV said they could “glue” units to the outside of the central unit. The client was intrigued, gave it the green light, and the rest is history.
To look at the WoZoCo Apartments now, however, it’s hard not to think it was a risky housing solution. Anyone in those apartments looks like they are teetering on the edge, ready to snap off the main building at a moment’s notice. But, as it turns out, this innovative solution was the very thing that enabled 100 units for seniors to go ahead. And doesn’t it look wonderful?
10. Cliff Edge
To an average person, a risky house would be one in a neighborhood with a high crime rate. Every day, you’re risking not finding your car up on blocks. But this property takes risky to a whole new level. Located on the Sonoma Coast around two hours from San Francisco, this 3.9-million-dollar home is turning heads.
While its views over the Pacific Ocean and nearly all-glass façade are likely why, it’s also its position which adds to the appeal or risk, whichever way you want to look at it. The home is perched on a small rocky point that juts out around 300 feet over the Pacific Ocean. It doesn’t get much more breath-taking (or nerve-wracking) than that.
The property in Jenner, California, was designed by architect Richard Clements in 1964. Richard also owned and designed the Timber Cove Inn, which sits adjacent. It underwent significant renovations in 2012 to take it from a ‘60s era classic to a 21st-century modern masterpiece. It’s now fitted with new decks, a new roof, plumbing, wiring, flooring, and a custom hot tub. Risky or rewarding, you be the judge.
9. House in the Hillside
You may not want to live in the riskiest house in the world, but would you be willing to stay in one? One property, half-built into the hillside in Mega Livadi, is offering that experience. The structure has been separated into two residences, to be rented out separately.
They overlook a beautiful bay and are encompassed by a family-friendly sandy beach. Both residences have unique features and are both special regarding their architectural and historical relevance, as well.
When you see this property from a distance, it’s hard not to let your heart race. After all, it’s built precariously into a hillside, with not even breath-taking views to stop you remembering that. Fortunately, you can enjoy a few days of luxury here – as both homes have undergone renovation – and you can then go back home to the comfort of your ‘non-risky’ property.
While you’re there, though, you may as well enjoy it. The central part of the home has five bedrooms with en-suites, a living and dining room, a cellar, and a shower room. One of the bedrooms also has a veranda with pergola. A courtyard with a pergola, a yard with trees, and a ladder down to the ocean all add to the appeal of this beautiful abode.
8. Habitat 67
Apartment life is not for everyone. It can be hard to sacrifice indoor-outdoor flow and outdoor living, even if it means you’re close to the city center. But what if you could have both? Architect Moshe Safdie proved it was possible.
Moshe sketched out a revolutionary housing development idea in the 1960s, which involved 354 concrete boxes stacked on top of each other in a 3D pixelated mound styling. They would be stacked in such a way that every apartment could have a private outdoor space to call its own.
While, on paper, the design looked crazy and entirely unachievable – especially for the era – it was anything but. In fact, it became a reality and was called Habitat 67 – built for Montreal’s Expo ‘67.
Such was the success of the building project that it was recognized with a commemorative postage stamp and also became the subject of an exhibition at a university in Montreal. As it turns, you can have it both ways – city life with a twist – even if the initial idea seemed a little risky, unachievable, insane, and unbelievable.
7. House on Middle Sedge Island
Door-to-door salespeople can be quite frustrating, and even the neighbor’s stereo going at all hours of the evening can send you up the wall. So, while the house on Middle Sedge Island might be a little risky, it’s probably also quite a desirable option for many people.
In 2015, a house was put up for sale online for $6.5 million. Now, that’s quite a lot to pay for a home, so what was so special about it? It was on its own unique little island, only accessible by boat and helicopter, in the middle of a popular beach community.
The home covered 4,866 square feet with a 1,200-foot guest house, and it was set upon 14.4 acres of land. The entire island was 25 acres. In its heyday, the house was something truly magnificent. It had a pool and rec room, a wet bar, porch, bocce court, heated pool, and much, much more.
However, bankruptcy by the owners was filed in 2016, and after Superstorm Sandy, the property has fallen into a state of disrepair. The island became flooded, the built-in pool was uprooted, and the home was damaged. Today, it probably is quite a dangerous place to live.
Meteora is a must-visit destination in Greece, which translates to “hovering in the air” in English. That name might puzzle you at first, but it won’t when you see the structures built into the giant rocks.
During the 11th century, the area of Meteora was inhabited by monks living in caves. During the Turkish occupation, however, those monks began to feel uncertain of all the lawlessness the city was seeing. Therefore, they started living higher and higher up the rocks until they had built homes at the top of the inaccessible peaks.
To them, it made sense – the harder they were to access, the easier it was to keep away from all the problems below. They built their rock homes by transporting materials with ladders, ropes, and baskets, and living supplies were transported in this way, too.
To visit these rock homes today, there’s a series of pathways and roads for access by car and foot. However, you can still see examples of the age-old method of transportation, and it will surely make you thankful for modern technology that allowed the buildings to be accessible in an easier way.
5. The Drina River House
The Drina River in the Balkans has always been an exhausting place to partake in water sports. Its waves can be particularly challenging to tackle, but it was still a favored swimming spot by locals.
One day in 1968, a group of young Yugoslavians took a break from all that tiresome swimming and sunbathed on top of a rock that jutted out from the river. However, because it was jagged, they decided to bring boards from the shore to make it a bit more comfortable.
Before long, those boards became a house, and it became one of the most popular destinations for locals. Even as flooding and weather conditions tried their hardest to ruin the house, local Serbians continued to repair it. It’s now famous throughout the world and even appeared as the National Geographic’s Photo of the Day.
The house is set on the highest point of the rock, with a small balcony area, windows, a door, and a roof. It’s accessible only by boat and swimming and has a little room for shelter on the inside. Because of continuous weather damage, the Drina River House you see today is probably not going to look the same as the one that appears on the rock next year!
4. Island House
If you’ve ever traveled along Highway 401 in Ontario, Canada, then you may have been curious about The Thousands Islands region, and what it holds within. This unique wilderness area separates the U.S. from Canada and has over 1,000 islands formed by receding glaciers around 12,000 years ago.
To be counted as islands, the landmasses within The Thousand Islands region have to have at least one square foot of land above the surface of the water year-round and should support at least two trees.
On one piece of land that ticks that box is a beautiful castle, which is only accessible by boat and helicopter. It’s situated on the New York side of the border and was commissioned by millionaire George Bolt.
The castle has a private bowling alley and has seen over 15 million dollars worth of renovations. It’s also available to hire for private events, like weddings.
While this property is undeniably beautiful, it’s also risky. It’s often challenging to access and is prone to power outages. There are also often food shortages to the island, too. You may be able to access many of the islands within the Thousand Islands region by paddleboat, but this one is just that little bit trickier.
3. Chemosphere House
Is it a space ship, or is it a house? One thing’s for sure; it’s risky. The Chemosphere house in Los Angeles, United States, was designed in 1960 by John Lautner, but you’d be forgiven for thinking it’s brand new. With octagonal shaping and contemporary features, it does look like a home of the future. So much so, that Encyclopaedia Britannia called it the most modern home built in the world.
John chose the unique design of this home due to the tricky layout and conditions of the land on which it was built. He was given two choices: cut a level platform out of the sloped land or use an open steel framework. He decided on the latter.
The UFO-style octagonal house now boasts panoramic views over the water and neighboring properties, and it’s no wonder that John was given such kudos for his ingenuity. He both solved a problem and gave himself an exceptional outlook to wake up to every day. The best part is, the entire house project only cost $30,000 but is now worth over 3.5 million to the right buyer.
2. Free Spirit Sphere House
When we’re kids, we don’t have a danger gauge or a fear meter. We do stuff, even if it’s risky, without thinking about the consequences. A company called Free Spirit Spheres is trying to help adults get back to that freedom and relaxed way of living with their spherical treehouses. Who said you couldn’t live in a treehouse? If you want to, then do it.
The treehouse spheres, while risky compared to a regular house, are really quite magical. They are simplistic, tasteful, and designed to blend into a natural environment. They are also hung in trees with suspension ropes, spider web-styling, and a five to 100-foot elevation range – depending on your preference. You can either fall five feet to the ground or 100 feet; it’s really up to you.
The exterior materials are formed in much the same way as a kayak or canoe, with wood and fiberglass shells. The inside is equally as innovative, with vinyl upholstery fabric, multiple layers of bubble wrap insulation, and varnished wood.
While living in a treehouse full time is probably not an option, there’s no reason why you can’t erect one in your backyard and enjoy a little bit of risk from time to time. Release that inner child!
If you want to break away from the hustle and bustle of city life, and you don’t mind an element of risk, then the Akrabyrgi Lighthouse on the southern tip of the Faroe Islands is where you need to be. Getting to this remote location, part of the Kingdom of Denmark, is not easy, but there’s no denying it will be worth it.
Travelers will need to take a ferry to the island of Suouroy from Torshavn. For the next two hours, all you can do is twiddle your thumbs before you arrive in Suouroy and travel to the southernmost village of Sumba. From Sumba, it’s a two-mile trip to the lighthouse, which is easily one of the most underrated locations in the world.
Looking down once you reach the lighthouse is not an experience for the faint of heart. All you see is rocky cliffs, crashing waves, and a long trip to the ground. However, its beauty is undeniable. The tall, white lighthouse overlooks the North Atlantic Ocean and far beyond, and you will be pleased you made the journey.