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The other day I was reading an article about an interesting house being built by an innovative couple and I started remembering a couple of interesting and different houses I’ve known.
While driving through our small valley to get to town I noticed some construction going on high on the side of one of the hills. It caught my eye because it was gleaming in the sunlight like steel rather than wood. Every day after I checked it out. Nothing commercial was allowed to be built so I knew it had to be residential - but steel?
Eventually, I could see a tower and then cantilevered structures sprouting near the top.
One day I remembered where I had seen a similar structure. I’ve always been a fan of Buckminister Fuller, the American genius and creative thinker. So much so that I have read everything he wrote and everything written about him. He may be best known for his geometric domes. I also know about his articulated car and his revolving house.
Fuller’s house was built around a cylinder which would hold its electrical systems and hydraulic equipment to turn the rooms which would be cantilevered from the base structure. The house would revolve following the sun which could be harnessed for solar power. One of the books I read had plans for the house and unless I was mistaken that’s what I was seeing on the hill.
I found my way up the road to the construction site and the engineer in charge of the project. He was only too glad to talk to someone who recognized what he was doing. He was also thrilled to be doing it. Turned out, the owner was a space engineer also a firm Fuller fan, whose wife was willing to live in a revolving home.
The house was almost finished. Would I like a tour? Would I! There were big rooms with large windows - a living room/dining room, a kitchen, a laundry room, three bedrooms and three baths. Then came the best part. Would I like to take a ride? We did a complete turn. It was soundless and smooth as silk. I thanked him and left. I never went back, feeling it would have been intrusive.
There have been a couple of other unusual houses I’ve known. One belonged to a woman with whom I played golf. The architecture of her house was just plain
goofy. I rather suspect it was the brainchild of her husband who drove big, ugly cars, wore ugly suits, smoked cheap cigars and hung out with prize fighters in Las Vegas. She, on the other hand was a sweetheart and a lovely lady. Go figure.
The house had a big four car garage and an elevator. The first floor had a two
story living room with windows to match. Thirty six feet of lavish drapery. Halfway up, there was a balcony reached by about ten steps or the elevator if you were too tired to walk. There was a seat in the elevator if you were too tired to stand. On the balcony there was a dining room , kitchen, laundry room and powder room. A few more steps up to the next floor, or elevator ride, and there were four bedrooms and three baths.
This was called a town house. There were two others around a swimming pool and tennis courts. My friend hated the whole place, poor thing. She was a small town girl who married the lout, who made her leave her nice simple house where
she could garden and move to a place he thought was grand.
I had a similar friend. She had lived in a small college town where her father
worked as a janitor. He brought home an exchange student from Egypt, an electrical engineer because the fellow was lonely. She and the student married. When he graduated he got a high paying job with a Silicon Valley firm and proceeded to get rich. They bought a home in our valley. It was a big house which she designed, complete with sunken bathtubs and 14 carat gold fixtures in the downstairs powder room. The whole place was a series of expensive but serious misjudgements. The house was huge and just plain awful, like the setting for a big, bad MGM movie.
There were a couple of people whom I knew who had trees in the middle of their homes, debarked, of course. I never could figure out why. I can understand an artistic piece of driftwood, but a tree?
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