Children value style over functionality, as the "gun that shoots sharks that shoot more guns" design we came up with in second grade will attest. To an imagination that's yet to be beaten down by the realities of the world, appearances are everything. Of course, turning those childish designs into reality would be wildly impractical.
Luckily, plenty of professional folks are 12-year-olds magically trapped in grown-up bodies, and they gave us stuff like ...
#7. The Fire-Breathing Dragon Bridge of Da Nang
Let's say you're a city looking to celebrate the 38th anniversary of the end of a brutal war. What would be the most sensible and dignified way of doing so? If you said, "Build a giant fucking bridge shaped like a dragon," then congratulations! You share a mindset with the people of Da Nang, Vietnam. We'll give you a moment so you can make preparations to rejoin your chosen people.
Where everybody knows your name, and where winter is always coming.
If you know of Da Nang at all, it's probably as the location of a major American airbase during the Vietnam War. Since then, it's become one of the country's richest cities, and with great wealth comes a great desire to showboat to your neighbors.
Bui Thuy Dao Nguyen/Wiki Commons
Take that, prefecture of Quang Nam!
So if you're crossing the Cau Rong Bridge over the Han River, you'll see a giant golden dragon head rising out of the concrete. Keep going and you'll see that the arches of the bridge are actually part of the dragon's body. Reports of a massive treasure trove under the bridge are unconfirmed, but probably true.
The bridge supports six lanes of traffic, was designed by the Louis Berger Group, and oh, right -- it sprays jets of fire.
Da Nang takes tollbooth violations fucking seriously.
The dragon puts on a pyrotechnics show every evening at nine o'clock, and at night the bridge is lit up by over 2,500 LED lights. Because when you build a fire-breathing golden dragon into your city's infrastructure, you're not super worried about appearing ostentatious.
Dancing Christmas lights can officially suck it.
#6. Zapa Cement's Wonka-esque Company Buildings
In one of our most beloved articles, "The 6 Most Boring Industries Ever," cement mixing easily took the number one spot. You have gray factories producing a gray material that gets driven around in gray trucks: It doesn't exactly scream "childhood wonder." And then there's this Czech company, which looks like Willy Wonka took a sudden interest in construction materials.
"Another group of bratty, spoiled chocoholics took my tour, and I needed extra room to store the bodies."
The Zapa Cement Company is one of the largest and most successful companies in the Czech Republic, despite the fact that the CEO is apparently a very talented 9-year-old. Their buildings and trucks are painted in dozens of different styles, from scientific ...
"The moon's great, except it's so damn crater-y. Time to fix that."
... to psychedelic ...
Sauron: the experimental college years.
... to, uh, pornographic?
Zapa Lubricant: not even once.
While it's great to see cement and masturbation together at last, our favorite design is this gargantuan factory-cannon:
If there's ever some sort of industrial Transformer war, we know who we're betting on.
#5. Chapelle de Bethleem's Pop Culture Gargoyles
The Chapelle de Bethleem is located in Nantes, France, and at first blush it looks like a typical church. It's old, a little creepy, and decorated with gargoyles -- nothing out of the ordinary. But take a closer look, and you'll notice something a little off about one of the statues.
Besides its terrible Mr. Burns impression.
Is that ... ?
20th Century Fox
It's actually less creepy when it doesn't smile.
Yup, it's totally the alien from Alien. How did that get up there? It's just some bizarre coincidence, right? Or maybe God's a huge Ridley Scott fan. But wait, there's more! Here's Gizmo from Gremlins, along with one of his darker brethren:
"I warned you not to chisel after midnight, but clearly you didn't listen."
And here's Grendizer, a character from a Japanese anime about giant robots that's crazy popular in France for no apparent reason.
"And you thought we were one-hit wonders with that whole Jerry Lewis thing."
The church was built in the 15th century, but of course these characters didn't exist back then (or did they?). But in 1993, the church had fallen into disrepair and needed major renovations. Stone carver Jean-Louis Boistel was assigned the task of replacing several missing gargoyles, and luckily for us, even France has giant nerds.
#4. The Kinshasa Intersections Policed by Robot Traffic Cops
When the Democratic Republic of the Congo modernized its roads, good driving habits failed to catch up with them. That left officials scrambling for ways to make sure that their roads stayed modernized. Naturally, their thoughts turned to giant robots.
Junior D. Kannah/AFP/Getty Images
"I'm sorry, Dave, I'm afraid I can't let you tailgate."
Stationed on the streets of the capital city, Kinshasa, are traffic lights shaped like robot policemen. Standing at more than 8 feet tall, these solar-powered robots have been incredibly effective at regulating traffic on one of the busiest streets in the city. It turns out that people are much more willing to follow the law when it's being enforced by a giant metal man in sunglasses.
AFFIRMATIVE: VISIONS IN EYES HAVE BEEN TRACKED.
It may seem like an absurd solution, but the Traffic Terminator program has been so successful that it's expanded to a second city. It helps that these things aren't just metal scarecrows -- they move like they just walked off the set of a 1950s sci-fi movie.
If that wasn't enough, the robots' eyes are functional cameras that allow them to monitor the flow of traffic and ticket speeders. We are one giant pistol and six giggling schoolgirls away from an anime premise.
Junior D. Kannah/AFP/Getty Images
"Forget everything I said about Jesus, son. This is our God now."