Bizarrchitecture: An Aquarium That’s Also a Giant Pile of Pebbles

The Georgian port of Batumi has more rocks than anyone knows what to do with. So what have Henning Larsen Architects decided to build? Even bigger rocks! With dolphins inside!

This pile of cartoonishly big pebbles is an aquarium that looks more like Fred and Wilma’s two-car garage. It won a design competition recently to replace an old aquarium in the former Soviet republic‘s main port city, and it’ll house a dolphinarium and a zoo.

Henning Larsen was inspired by rocks that are “continually shaped by the wash of the waves through millennia” at the Batumi beach. Apparently, they’re everywhere, which has to suck for sunbathers. But at least makes for studiedly zany architecture.

The aquarium is something of a departure for Henning Larsen, a big but typically pretty boring Danish firm best known for designing the Copenhagen Opera House. On the opera house, Henning Larsen played whipping boy to patron and shipping magnate Maersk Mc-Kinney Møller — a sort of Eli Broad in a Viking helmet — who, among other rich-old-man demands, requested inoperable windows everywhere and toilet seats that matched the height of his own leg. The place was a bore. At least this one will have floating sharks: