Sometimes it’s hard to figure out if builders were thinking logically when looking at buildings from the past. Otherwise why would some apartments end up having garbage chutes right inside the apartment or why would there be diagonal windows that don’t make any sense at first glance? Sometimes there’s an actual good idea behind each strange architectural and household decision and some of these strange things even turn out to be useful.
1. “Microwave oven” from the beginning of the 20th century, Europe
Dual-use radiators were popular in Europe at the beginning of the 20th century. These radiators allowed people to heat food and dry shoes. Today, these ’boxes’ can hardly be found anywhere because they have been phased out by more modern technology. Present-day houses are heated with electricity as the former option to heat with hot water and steam became very energy-consuming.
2. Seasonal fridge, Russia
The houses built in the 60s can brag about having a seasonal fridge. The thick walls of the houses allowed the architects to design a special niche where residents could keep perishable and canned products during the winter season.
3. Blocked-up windows, Great Britain
Blocked up windows in the old buildings of Great Britain are a good example of how ridiculous laws have affected a culture. In the 17th century, the British and the Scots paid taxes for the number of windows they had in their houses. At those times, only rich people could afford to have all their windows be glass. It can be compared with having yachts and private jets in modern times. This all happened because it was extremely expensive and difficult to produce glass.
If people didn’t want to pay the tax, they had to block up windows with bricks. Poor people, in turn, didn’t have any windows at all and had to live in complete darkness for generations.
4. Phoenix bird, Stockholm (Sweden)
There is a symbol of a Phoenix bird that hangs over the doors of some buildings in the historical center of Stockholm. This medallion used to cost a fortune in the 18th century. It started because houses in the old city were built so close to each other, that whenever there was a fire, it had the potential to destroy the whole block or even district. Firefighters first extinguished the houses with this distinctive medallion on the façade, while the houses of poor people were tended to later.
The medallion with the Phoenix bird was like fire insurance. And here is an interesting fact about the consistency of the Swedish people – the fire insurance company that used to sell these medallions back then is still in business today.
5. Manhole, Wiesbaden (Germany)
The lid of this manhole in Wiesbaden, Germany resembles the ’Millennium Falcon’ spaceship from Star Wars. In reality, it’s the entrance to the dungeon of the Salzbach canal. Initially, the construction served as a canal, but now it’s used for excursions.
6. Doors to saloons, Western United States
The feature of any respected saloon in the Wild West is a hinged door that can freely open to both sides. At first glance, it might seem to be a completely impractical construction. However, this door device has a few very direct purposes.
The first most obvious one is ventilation. The second one is puritan in nature, it was to protect the gazes of the pious inhabitants of western towns from the indecency inside the saloon. At the same time, frequent saloon-goers could see the light from afar and knew that the bar was open. The third reason has a more commercial meaning, the shape of doors, called “bat wings,” made saloons recognizable even without a sign.