Posted in Features on October 10, 2007
If you’re in the market for a home but nothing seems to satisfy your taste, then perhaps the homes listed below will fire your creative urges. Or, maybe you’ll just be satisfied with an office space inside a building built like a basket. From small buildings to constructions shaped like flying saucers, you’ll be amazed at what some architects and builders have created. Many of the homes listed below are for rent or for sale, so you may have a chance to wow your friends with these incredible abodes.
The homes listed below are in no particular order, but we’ve managed to dig up some dirt on each building so that you can learn more about the architects and the history behind these unusual pieces of architecture.
- Smallest House in the World: There’s been a rash of small houses in the news, and they all challenge our notions about need and consumerism as well as minimum-size standards. This house, photographed by Carol Lloyd for SFGate.com, illustrates how one person can live with a small space and a loft for sleeping. Located in the middle of an orchard, the house creates little impact on the environment, and even less of a carbon footprint for the resident. We wonder if the owner is a member of the Small House Society. If you’re interested in a small house, you might check out Jay Shafer’s work at the Tumbleweed Tiny House Company.
- Shoe House: Colonel Mahlon M. Haines, the flamboyant “Shoe Wizard,” built The Shoe House in 1948 for advertising purposes. Haines walked up to an architect, handed him an old work boot, and said “Build me a house like this.” It is a wood frame structure covered with wire lath and coated with cement stucco. It measures 48 ft. in length, 17 ft. in width at the widest part and 25 ft. in height, and was built in one year. The interior consists of five different levels and contains three bedrooms, two baths, a kitchen and living room. Haines died in 1962, and the Shoe House has had a few owners since, including an orthodontist who ran tours for twenty years and sold ice cream from a small snack bar in the heel. The house came full circle as it was returned to the Haines family in 1987, when a granddaughter of the “Shoe Wizard” purchased the building.
- Crazy Amsterdam House – An otherwise ordinary apartment slab is expanded by radically cantilevering apartments over the sidewalk on one side of this building in Amsterdam. On the other side, colorful translucent balconies punctuate the facade. This building is called the “MVRDV WoZoCos,” this is just one of many projects planned and constructed by the MVRDV. Based in Rotterdam, the MVRDV has been creating unusual and beautiful architecture since 1996. Their latest project is the Didden Village, realized in 2007. This ice blue rooftop residence is located in Rotterdam.
- Cantilevered Void House – A cantilever is a beam supported on only one end, and the beam carries the load to the support without any other external bracing. Cantilevers can be constructed with trusses or slabs. This type of construction allows for overhanging structures without external bracing, but the cantilever house shown here takes the cantilever to the extreme. Another new type of cantilever house includes the Single Hauz, a construction that looks like a large billboard. The house shown here was extracted from a gallery at Archinect.
- Space Ship House: This now-silver UFO house, which is located along Highway 12 in Buxton on the North Carolina Outer Banks, used to be green. Now that it’s been painted, it seems to create a lot of glare. This house landed on the Outer Banks about thirty years ago, originally designed as a vacation home by Finnish architect Matti Suuronen in 1968. Word is that the house was once a hotdog stand and, most recently, a gift shop. Now it just sits along the side of the road, rotting and for rent. You can find other space ship houses (some more for rent, as well) at the Spaceship House Web site.
- Rotterdam Cube Houses: These yellow Cube Houses (Kijk Kubus or Kubuswoningen) sit in stark contrast to the softly shaped and much older buildings in an old part of Rotterdam. These homes are not for sale, and they’re unlike anything else in the city with their lopsided shape. The main building was originally a bridge that crossed a traffic artery with a promenade at top. Sometimes known as “pole-houses” or “tree-houses,” the buildings were designed by the Dutch architect Piet Blom in the early 1970s. Blom tilted the cube of conventional house 45 degrees and rested it upon a hexagon-shaped pylon. There are 32 cubes altogether, all attached to each other. Bet a bird’s eye view of these structures at Impossible World.
- Bart Prince House: Internationally-known architect Bart Prince is a native of Albuquerque, New Mexico, and he still lives in the area in this fantastical studio and living space built on a small lot. He designed this studio, which is set into the ground behind an earth berm toward the front of the structure to provide easy access and a buffer from the street for the more private portions of the house. The top level contains bedrooms with curved south facing glazing for passive solar benefits. The masonry tower was added in 1990 to provide library and drawing storage space. Visit Prince’s Web site to view more photos of his incredible architecture.
- Centrum Rezydent (Crooked House): The Centrum Rezdent is located on the Baltic coast of Poland in a town called Sopot. Its main tenant is a tavern called the Wonky Pub. Polish architect, Szotynscy Zaleski, was inspired by the fairytale illustrations of Jan Marcin Szancer and the drawings of the Swedish artist and Sopot resident Per Dahlberg (watch a video of his drawings inside the Crooked House). The most photographed building in Poland, the 4,000 square meter house is located in Rezydent shopping center. Find more images and history at The World According to Google.
- De Lat Crazy House: Da Lat was a resort during the Vietnam War and has remained a resort, with still-intact colonial villas designed at the turn of the last century by celebrated French architects. The Crazy House, built by the daughter of Ho Chi Minh’s right-hand man, is just one resort located in this town. The official name is Hang Nga Guesthouse (named for the architect) and gallery, but Vietnamese locals refer to it as the Crazy House. According to GlobeLife Travel, this concrete tree portion to the west in the guesthouse contains three rooms. “Its upper level has a framework of the slim tree trunks used in construction in most developing countries, draped with blue plastic sacking. Using the existing roofs of the Tiger Room, the Eagle Room, and the Ant Room for its foundations, this is where Hang Nga will build her dream room: the Bee Room. It will be a two-story suite, with two bathrooms, a waterfall and a massage bathtub.”
- Global Tree House: This house could compete for the world’s smallest home, but it might serve as a secondary home or a guest house. Designer Tom Chudleigh set out to build boats and ended up making these sophisticated tree house spheres that suspend via wires from old-growth trees or any other stationary objects. Since completing the first prototype called Eve, which was made out of yellow cedar wood, Tom has perfected his techniques. Now, he also constructs the spheres out of fiberglass, fitting them with plumbing, wiring and windows. Prices start at around US$45,000. View more images at Cool Hunting.
- Mushroom House: The Mushroom House (aka Tree House) is located in the Hyde Park area of Cincinnati, Ohio. Although Hyde Park is home to stately, well-maintained homes with manicured lawns and tree-lined streets, this house has won the hearts and minds of local residents. Terry Brown, architect and professor of architecture and interior design at the University of Cincinnati, designed this house. It would change over time as his students used this house as a building project. The house was put up for sale in 2006. You can see another view of the house on this page at Flickr.
- Cave House: Hasankeyf is a village in Turkey that clings to the rocks of a gorge above the Tigris River. Despite its beauty and history, Hasankeyf is one of the most ancient occupied places in the region, with historical remnants dated that date over 5,000 years. But if the Ilisu dam is built, 57 towns will be flooded and more than 16.000 people will be forced from their ancestors’ lands. All the inhabitants of the city — and all the local branches of the political parties — are against the building of a dam which will destroy their life. But their efforts to avert the crisis have been to no avail. If you look closely at this image, posted at Flickr, you’ll see a satellite dish erected at one of the occupied caves along the Hasankeyf Gorge.
- Going Underground: Much media interest has focused on Labour MP Bob Marshall Andrews’ underground house, located in St. Bride’s Bay in Pembrokeshire, Wales. It was designed in 1994 and built by 1996 by Future Systems, the home has been nicknamed the “tellytubby house” by locals. The home is built into an 80-ft. cloff with views of the bay, and the roof and sides of the house being turfed with local vegetation. It’s barely visible beneath its grass-covered mound, a roof constructed from plywood aerofoil construction covered with turf. Earth-sheltered homes, like the one shown here, often appear as little more than a grassy knoll with little architecture to disrupt the scenery.
- Basket Building: Can you imagine an office space in this building? What started out as a dream by Dave Longaberger, Founder of The Longaberger Company, was built into a giant basket to house the entire corporate offices of the company. “Dave believed the idea was one of his best and would draw attention to the company, while simultaneously helping to build [the] brand.” The Longaberger Company creates handcrafted baskets as its signature product. 1998, The Longaberger Home Office received a Build Ohio Award for its synthetic plaster system. The building is made of stucco over a steel structure, which helps create the look of an actual Longaberger Basket. The Home Office continues to attract the attention of media from around the world. If you’re in the area, you can tour the building.
- Bubble House: This odd house is located in Tourette–sur–Loup, high on a hillside behind Nice, France, is only 35 years old yet the French Ministry of Culture already lists it as a historic monument. Though construction began in 1970 and has so far cost $7,500,000 the house is unfinished, with completion estimated to require another $1,250,000. The house went up for sale in 2005 with a price tag of €2,440,000 ($3,000,000). Designed by Finnish architect Antti Lovag, this house is just one of about twenty bubble houses located throughout France. The finished property shown here has three bedrooms and covers just over 2,000 square feet – “although it is hard to measure,” concedes Daniel Bord, the village mayor and owner, “as it’s all round.”
- Dome House: This Dome House (formally known as Narveno Court), located in suburban Hawthorn, Australia, was based upon Roy Grounds’ 1959 spaceship design for the Canberra Academy of Science. Architects Charles McBride Ryan ditched Grounds’ idea and created a home that is grounded and built from ribbed copper cladding, gabion stone walls, timber boards, translucent plastic screens and green, sheer curtains, shiny black, glazed bricks and thin, metal window frames. According to the story at The Age, “Whites and greens, yellows, natural timbers and burgundy brighten interiors, but they act also as a kind of instruction or signage for those using the building.”
- The Chemosphere: By 1960, John Lautner had had his own architectural office in Southern California for 20 years and had produced a long series of houses that combine innovative engineering, superb handling of materials, respect for his clients’ needs, and an experimental vision that remains perpetually fresh. Lautner built this house for Leonard Malin, an aircraft electronics engineer short on money but high on imagination. Malin gave the architect a budget of $30,000, a sum that was agreed upon and construction began in May 1959. The house is today considered one of the great architectural icons of Los Angeles. The Chemosphere, which resembles a flying saucer, is located at 7776 Torreyson Drive in the Hollywood Hills. It can best be seen from the corner of Flynn Ranch Road and Torreyson Drive or directly across the street at 7777 Torreyson Drive. In 2000 the German publisher Benedikt Taschen bought the Chemosphere for $1 million, and it now serves as his Los Angeles home and satellite office.
- Tallest Log Cabin: Located in Arkhangelsk, Russia, this house is believed to be the world’s tallest wooden house, soaring 13 floors to reach 144 ft. – about half the height of Big Ben. Built by a one-time gangster, the house that Sutyagin built is also crumbling, incomplete and under threat of demolition from city authorities determined to end the former convict’s eccentric 15-year project. According to Sutyagin, “First I added three floors but then the house looked ungainly, like a mushroom,” he said. “So I added another and it still didn’t look right so I kept going. What you see today is a happy accident.” But, his plans were thwarted when he was tossed into jail in 1998 to server a four-year prison sentence. “When I went to prison I was a millionaire,” he said. “Now I’m penniless.” Sutyagin, 60, lives in four poorly heated rooms at the bottom of his wooden skyscraper with his 32-year-old wife Lena. He’s built a roof around the second floor so that he can claim the rest of the house is purely decorative. This effort was to avoid housing regulations that claim no house in Arkhangelsk can be over two storys.
- Airplane House: This oddity, which looks like a jetliner has settled atop a two-story concrete home, is located in West Africa. This is the residence of Said and Liza Jammal. When they married, Liza loved to travel. So, she extracted a promise from her young husband – that he would build a house for her in the shape of an airplane as a symbol of her hobby. But, seven children and a fast-growing business consumed the Jammals’ time. In 1999, Said – a civil engineer – spotted this piece of land and began to fulfill his promise to his wife.
- Pyramid House: While this pyramid might seem the sum of the whole house, you’d probably be surprised to learn that this structure is a skylight for an underground home. The home, located in Hamilton, Ohio, is 6,500-plus square-feet with a 2,500-square-foot living room – ample space to entertain 80 guests. But, without a skylight, the lack of light made this large underground home dim. The pyramid, according to owner, designer, and local entrepreneur Harry Wilks, would catch the maximum amount of light and that the self-supporting pyramid would hold itself up without the aid of posts. In keeping with the pyramid scheme, the home is decorated with Wilks’ collections of historic artifacts from Rome, Egypt and Greece. If you’re looking for a pyramid that’s a house instead of a skylight, try this one located in Wadsworth, Illinois.
- Forest Spiral Building: The Hundertwasser house, “Waldspirale” (“Forest Spiral”), was built in Darmstadt, Germany between 1998 and 2000 by Friedensreich Hundertwasser, the famous Austrian architect and painter. Hundertwasser died in 2000, just before this structure was finished. It contains 105 apartments that wrap around a landscaped courtyard with a running stream. Up in the turret at the southeast corner, there is a restaurant, including a cocktail bar. The building is constructed from sediment rock, bands of ceramic tiles and colored stucco, and the roof is formed by a garden of beech, maple, and lime trees.
- Cookie Jar House: This is the only cookie jar house in the United States, and it’s located in Glendora, New Jersey. The house was bui in 1947 as a speculation house, as the builders planned to make a community out of these homes. This house was originally built with a flat roof and a stucco finish. The brickwork was added later to this three-story framed building. The interior boasts a spiral staircase that rises to the roof and a widow’s walk. Every room within the house is semi-circular.
Edit: picture taken down at owner’s request.
- Vertical House: This 2,400 sq. ft. house was built from cement fiberboard, and it has been innovatively used in conjunction with three types of glazing. What’s amazing about this house is that it sits on a lot that’s only twenty-five feet wide. But, what it lacks in width, it gains in height. From the roof, a visitor can see the Pacific Ocean, which is three blocks away from this Venice Beach site. Bring plenty of window cleaner, as this home contains 112 windows! Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects, located in Culver City, California, designed this house. This firm has been recognized with twenty-four design awards including seven American Institute of Architects Design Awards.
- Spaceship House (for sale!): The link for this spaceship house, located in Chattanooga, Tennessee, will take you to a video where you can view the home’s interior. This home, which has been on HGTV (Home and Garden Television) for the number two most unique homes in the U.S,. is now for sale. Nestled between rocks and trees on the side of beautiful Signal Mountain among other single-family homes, the resident in this 1,952 sq. ft. abode will be very close to downtown and shopping. All you need for this purchase is $184,900 and plenty of time to wait in line to see the home. When this home was shown previously, so many people showed up the police were called to do traffic control.
- Dome House: This photo and link will take you to the home of Bryan and Dianne Bremner, two sixty-something retirees in Republic, Washington. They built their 2800-square-foot Monolithic Dome home, Curlew Keep, on Curlew Lake, and it resembles a modified Torus — the first Monolithic Dome of this type to be built. In addition to the loft, Curlew Keep sports three bedrooms; three bathrooms; a sunken living room; dining, kitchen and laundry areas; and a two-car, attached garage leading into an outdoor room. If you’re jealous, you can visit other Monolithic Dome homes at the Monolithic Dome Institute Web site. These homes are located throughout the U.S. and other parts of the world, and some are for rent and for sale. You, too, can live in a dome!
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