Leaf House – Angra dos Reis, Brazil
The roof of this architectural masterpiece looks like a giant flower with six petals, each of which covers a different section of the home. A curved swimming pool works its way through the house before culminating as a small pond stocked with fish and vegetation in the backyard. Architect firm Mareines + Patalano designed the interior of this house to be free of hallways, providing ample space for the beach winds to blow through. “The idea of hallways stems from production homebuilding, which has so dominated our environment and marketplace that people see them as a standard,” says Peter Koliopoulos, an architect with 26 years of experience and founder of Arizona-based Circle West Architects. “That is really unfortunate because great spaces are developed in a way that this home has been developed.”
Everingham Rotating House – Taree, Australia
This octagonal house can rotate a full 360 degrees with the touch of a few buttons. A rotating drive consisting of 32 outrigger wheels and powered by two 500-watt electric motors is used to spin the house on demand, a process that can take anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours. Geothermal heating keeps the house at a steady 71.6 degrees, and the electrical wiring and plumbing are centralized so that they don’t interfere with the house’s ability to move. The entire cost of the project was on par with the cost of a nonrotating house of comparable size.
The Nautilus – Mexico City
This seashell-shaped home was completed in 2006. The stone steps running along the shrubs lead to the front door, which blends into the mosaic façade. Architect Javier Sensonian practices what he calls “bio-architecture,” a style that has led him to design buildings shaped like snakes, whales and several other creatures. The Nautilus was created to imitate the cephalopod’s shell, and its cavernous interior is filled with vegetation and small trees. “It’s not common that you would see a home of this design ascetic,” architect Peter Koliopoulos says. “However, it’s very enlightening and something that we can all learn from.”
Steel House – Lubbock, Texas
Artist and architect Robert Bruno has been at work on his steel home since 1974. Bruno has said that he wants the shape of the structure to be somewhere between animal and machine. Most homes have an initial skeleton that is built upon throughout the construction process, but Bruno has approached this home like a sculpture, building it on the fly and making constant modifications. Architect Peter Koliopoulos points out that the four legs and cantilevered design minimize the structure’s impact by not disrupting the earth as much as a typical home design would have. Estimated weight of the structure is 110 tons.
The Mushroom House – Cincinnati
This was the home and studio of Terry Brown, an architect who died in 2008. Brown, who was a professor at the University of Cincinnati’s College of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning, built the home between 1992 and 2006, bringing in students, on occasion, to contribute to the project. Undulating woodwork, bizarre shapes and an array of materials come together to form a cohesive, albeit zany, structure. “This isn’t something you draw up and say, ‘Go build it,’” architect Peter Koliopoulos says. “When you’re doing something this custom, you’re fabricating and designing simultaneously in the field.” The fantastical design doesn’t stop at the front door. The interior is adorned with angular cabinets and multicolored rock walls. “This is highly personal and artistic … it’s just a different way of living and thinking,” he says.
Bubble Castle – Theoule, France
Designer Antti Lovag long rebelled against traditional structures, and the Bubble Castle is a perfect example of his radical approach to rethinking the built environment. The bulbous compound sits on the southwestern coast of France. There are no sharp angles or straight lines in this unusual design. Lovag unified the home with its natural surrounding by bringing outdoor elements inside, including palm trees and a waterfall. “This home is incorporating these outdoor rock croppings in a way that links them to the overall bubble concept,” architect Peter Koliopoulos says. The house has already been deemed a historic monument by France’s Ministry of Culture, despite the fact that it’s not even 50 years old.
Amory Lovins’ House – Old Snowmass, Colo.
Amory Lovins, co-founder of the Rocky Mountain Institute and a Popular Mechanics Breakthrough Award winner, is no stranger to eco-friendly initiatives, and this combined home and work space is a testament to his ingenuity. The residential section of the building costs a measly $5 per month to power, thanks to the structure’s passive solar design, 16-inch-thick walls and krypton-filled windows. Lovins doesn’t rely on a boiler or furnace to heat the space; instead, two wood-burning stoves take care of the job. But most impressive, perhaps, is the greenhouse, which has churned out nearly 30 crops of bananas, as well as guavas, pineapples and other tropical fruit rarely associated with the Rocky Mountains.
Lake Palace – Udaipur, India
This relic of architectural days past dates back to 1746, when Maharana Jagat Singh II commissioned it. Nowadays, it is a high-end hotel, outfitted with modern amenities and luxury suites. The ornate palace sits on a 4-acre slab of land in the middle of Lake Pichola. Its exterior is made from white marble, which architect Peter Koliopoulos says isn’t exactly compatible with the natural surroundings. “You always want to develop design concepts that leverage, reinforce and highlight the natural features of the area. The scale and form of this building, though, are pretty obtuse,” he says. “Incorporating the marble just extends the oddity of the design approach.”
Chameleon House – Northport, Mich.
Anderson Architecture completed this home in 2006 atop a hill overlooking a cherry orchard and Lake Michigan. The striking structure took less than eight weeks to build thanks to the use of prefabricated materials. The steel frame of this house is wrapped in corrugated, translucent acrylic slats, allowing it to take on and reflect the changing colors of the landscape, like a chameleon blending into its habitat. Because it sits on a steep hill, the entrance of the home leads to the third floor, letting residents descend to the bedrooms or walk up to the living area.
Free Spirit Sphere – Qualicum Beach, British Columbia
This hanging room is the brainchild of Tom and Rosy Chudleigh, a Canadian couple who build these spherical living spaces for customers around the world. The Chudleighs have two spheres hanging on their property: the Eve model, which has a diameter of 9 feet, and the Eryn model, which has a diameter of 10.5 feet. The spheres can be ordered fully loaded, equipped with plumbing, electricity and insulation. An average sphere weighs around 1,100 pounds, and it takes a crew of three about a day to install. The Chudleighs say that the structures gently rock in the wind, a nice thought — depending on just how windy it is.
Photos & Text: via18 Unique Architectures Of The World | The Wondrous Design Magazine.