While some architects prefer to take more subtle cues from the natural world, others go whole hog (or sheep or elephant or cat) and make grand structures shaped like animals. From a kitty kindergarten to a whale of a house, here are some of the more spectacular examples of animal architecture.
Lucy, the Elephant, Margate City, New Jersey
This six-story wooden elephant, which was constructed in 1881 by James V. Lafferty, has served as a hotel, cottage, tavern, office, and restaurant.
Gagudju Crocodile Holiday Inn, Kakadu National Park, North Australia
Big Chicken, Marietta, Georgia
The original building was constructed in 1956, but in 1963 it was improved upon with a 56 ft (17 m) tall chicken. Thirty years later, a giant storm damaged the structure, but because of the public outcry it was remodelled by the current owner, the Kentucky Fried Chicken.
Elephant Building (Chang Building), Bangkok
The 32-floor (102 m or 335 ft) high iconic building was completed in 1997 as a collaboration between Dr. Arthur Chaisaree and Ong-ard Satrabhandhu.
(via Wikimedia Commons)
Kindergarten Wolfartsweier, Karlsruhe, Germany
There is no cuter thing than a cat-shaped kindergarten. Designed by Tomi Ungerer and Ayla Suzan Yöndel.
(via Apartment Therapy)
Casa Caracol, Isla Mujeres, Mexico
This shell structure was constructed by architect Eduardo Ocampo and his wife Raquel. The main building was completed in 1994 for just the two of them, but they added a guest house ten years later.
Whale House, Corona del Mar, Newport Beach, California
Nautilus House, Mexico City, Mexico
Designed by Javier Senosiain (of Arquitectura Organica) in 2006 for a young couple with two children, this building was inspired by the work of Antoni Gaudí and Frank Lloyd Wright.
(via Arquitectura Organica)
Whale House, Belo Horizonte, Brazil
(via Arquitectura Curiosa)
Whale House in Emu Park, Australia
(via John Douglas)
Sheep and Dog-shaped buildings in Tirau, New Zealand
Big Duck, Flanders, Long Island, New York
This duck-shaped ferrocement building was originally built in 1931 by Broadway set designers the Collins Brothers, and crafted by locals George Reeve, John Smith, and Merlin Yeager in 1931. Yeager used it as a shop to sell ducks and eggs.
The 18 x 30 x 20 ft (5.5 m x 9.1 m x 6.1 m) duck's eyes are made from Ford Model T tail lights.
National Fisheries Development Board Building, Hyderabad, India
Opened in February 2012.
Dog Bark Inn, Cottonwood, Idaho
This hotel has only one suite—inside the world's biggest beagle named Sweet Willy. It was built by Dennis J. Sullivan and Frances Conklin in 2003.
National Fresh Water Fishing Hall Of Fame, Hayward, Wisconsin
One of the museum's buildings is a 143-foot (44 m) long fiberglass jumping muskie fish used as an observation deck (used for weddings, too!) and houses an exhibition of mounted fishes an outboard motors.
(via Wikimedia Commons)