Posted on Mar 22, 2023
Last week our very own polymath, Bob Meroney, provided a pictorial journey entitled Gravity Defying Homes and Architectural Oddities. I will try to summarize in words but “you had to be there” to fully enjoy this trip.
The “Gravity Defying” portion started with 2 inflatables - Disney’s massive floating Cinderella castle and the “Flying Cathedral” designed as a replica of the Abbey of St Gail in Switzerland. But helium isn’t required for a building to appear floating as the photo of a mysterious levitating farmhouse in Ukraine exemplified. Another example is the “pod house” in New Rochelle, NY that appears suspended in air as it sits on thin concrete stems. A polish architect has designed an “unstable” upside-down house as a political statement on Poland’s communist party years. Other upside-down structures are variously used as entertainment venues or tourist attractions both in the US and overseas.
The multi dwelling “cactus house” and the “cube house” (both in Rotterdam) are designed to allow their occupants to get increased exposure to sunshine and the outdoors.
Regulations, zoning and taxes have lead to innovative designs in various urban locales - the Wozoco Apartments in Amsterdam feature 13 apartments hanging out of the main block so tenants get the required amount of sunlight. In Freiburg, Germany an apartment building rotates as it follows the sun or shade. I suspect many of our members have had a (at least) fleeting look at the “Sleeper” house in Golden, CO built for the Woody Allen movie of the same name and visible along I- 70.
Next, we saw various designs of tree houses. For adults as well as children, many are quite elaborate and even beautiful. Others are just strange like the “dome” in Japan built to attract aliens (not sure if that goal has been met). A massive treehouse in Crossville, TN was built by a minister (with guidance from God) and became a tourist attraction and a wedding venue. Alas, it has been shut down by the Tennessee Fire Marshall.
Taxation on streetside frontage has fostered very narrow houses around the world, especially in urban areas. Examples included the Silver House in London, a 17th century house in Warsaw’s Old Towne Square, the Spite House in Alexandria, VA and the “1 Meter Marvel” in Brazil.
“Just Strange” was the next category including an office building covered in a Lithuania 1000 banknote, 2 crooked structures in Poland, a “forest spiral” apartment building in Darmstadt, Germany, a steel “kettle house” in Galveston, the “Paper bag House” in Sydney and a house in Portugal built between two large stones.
Teapot structures abound around the world. Existing water towers can become giant teapots. Some structures have been built as large and expensive commercials - the Shoe House in Pennsylvania, the Basket Building in Ohio and the Public Library in Kansas City, MO. Other oddities are the “House Attack” in Vienna and a Texas house that features a wormhole.
For photographs (the essence of this presentation) I refer the reader to the Internet or Bob Meroney.