Greatest Hits: The World’s Coolest Homes
I first published this post on September 17, 2012 and even though it wasn’t my best work, you can’t deny that these houses are cool. Check them out and I’m sure you’ll agree.
When I was ten years old, I started to mentally construct the dream home I would build once I made my fortune. It had everything a boy could want: hidden doorways, secret passages, underground headquarters (think Bat Cave), an escape tunnel and even a lazy river that snaked its way through the house and across the grounds. I guess you could say I envisioned myself becoming Bruce Wayne, even though I wasn’t privy to the same family fortune.
As the years passed, I continued to alter the architectural plans in my mind. One year I might add an indoor/outdoor pool, only to replace it the next with an arboretum or steam room. If I went to the beach and saw a house with a widow’s walk, then I would find a place for it in my next draft. And all the recent attention on green technology got me thinking if a geothermal climate system might be in order.
Although I may never have the capital I need to make my dream home a reality, there are people who have done that very thing. What follows are some of my personal favorites: the homes I truly believe to be the coolest on the planet.
If you love Tolkien and “The Lord of the Rings” as much as I do, then this unique creation in Wales undoubtedly appeals to you. An eco-friendly family built this low-impact home using natural and readily available materials, including straw for insulation and local stones for its foundation. The home was dug into a hillside, which provides additional shelter, as well as some of that geothermal magic I mentioned earlier. And there are plenty of other Earth-friendly features, including a compost toilet, solar panels and a system for using gravity to funnel in water from a nearby spring.
I love that the goal here was to build in harmony with nature, but if I lived in the Hobbit House, I know one thing for certain: I would wear a Gandalf wizard outfit every time someone visited. Hell, I would probably do chores in it, too.
Star Trek Voyager Apartment
This may not be a “home” per se—even though I believe home is what you make it—but it is a very cool apartment. Tony Alleyne of Leicestershire, just north of London, created this amazing take on Gene Roddenberry-inspired design. Using items anyone can find at their local home improvement store, Alleyne handcrafted almost everything himself, including his own transporter room. And he had so much fun completing the project that it inspired his new business, 24th Century Design. Check it out here.
Personally, I’ve always been more of a “Star Wars” fan, but “Star Trek: The Next Generation” was cool and I could appreciate living in this apartment for a while. All the crazy lights would probably get to me, though, so I would eventually “beam up” to a less visually stimulating environment.
“Tron: Legacy” House
To help promote its news film, Disney collaborated with the DuPont chemical company to design the exhibition known as the Tron: Legacy House in Milan, Italy. The home is built largely from Corian, a DuPont compound that can be molded into almost any shape, and features all the modern amenities, including a hot tub, a home entertainment area and, like the Star Trek Voyager home, lots and lots of lights. I definitely would not recommend either of these domiciles to anyone prone to photo-sensitive epileptic seizures. And I’m sure the electric bills are nothing to sneeze at, either.
Organic, Hungarian architect Antti Lovag designed—but never finished—this bubbly structure in Tourettes-sur-Loup, France, which has been declared a historic monument. The home features exotic vegetation, built-in shelves, space-saving furniture and incredible views of the Mediterranean Sea. And as you can see, it blends seamlessly into its environment. It might be hard to wallpaper, though.
In 2006, the company Arquitectura Organica built a home for a young Mexico City couple that simulated the inside of a mollusk shell. The concept is known as Bio-Architecture because it is based on organic forms that are found in the natural world and bring us closer to harmony with nature. I’m not sure why I continue to be drawn to homes that connect to the environment, but they are interesting, don’t you think?
Hang Nga Tree House
No list of awesome homes would be complete without at least one tree house making the cut. For me, the most interesting and unusual of these structures is the so-called “Crazy House” in Vietnam. The structure was built for the daughter of Vietnam’s ex-president, herself a student of architecture. What makes this tree house so unique is that instead of incorporating trees into its design or resting on tree branches, the house actually is a tree. It also resembles something out of a dream—maybe a nightmare—which only serves to intrigue me more.
All of the homes presented here prove that with a strong vision and adequate means, anyone can build the house of their dreams. And if I ever get the opportunity to build my own, I can say with absolute certainty that these structures have inspired all sorts of interesting additions and modifications. I can already see the blueprints in my imagination changing for the better.