Out of the Box and Out of this World: Odd houses

Upside down, in a shoe or up a tree. There's no end to what an inventive mind can do when it comes to building.

House of the future

Futuro house

The Futuro house was designed in 1968 by Finnish architect Matti Suuronen, who designed it as a vacation house for a friend. After the first house was built, Polykem approached the architect about designing a prefabricated model and it became an overnight sensation.

The house came in 16 pieces of fiberglass and plastic. A hatch door in its lower half opened down to reveal steps, like an airplane, and led into a room outfitted with six plastic bed-chair combinations, a fireplace, a kitchenette and a bathroom. The house sold for between $12,000 and $14,000 in the US before the energy crisis of the 1970s and changing tastes led the manufacturer to stop production.

But there are still some Futuros out there and Richard Pisani has made it his mission to find them. You can read about it



The Pod House


Pod house, Rochester

Also known as the Mushroom House and the Floating House, the house was actually designed to resemble the flower known as Queen Anne's Lace. The house, a series of pods on "stems," was built in 1970 for Robert and Marguerite Antell by architect James H. Johnson. It has been declared a national historic landmark.

The Storybook House


Storybook house, Olalla, Washington

An homage to Hansel and Gretel, the Storybook house was built in the 1980s by Richey & Karen Morgan. A stone bridge, a tree house and five fireplaces complete the house, which was up for sale as recently as

March of this year

for the asking price of $359,000.

The Mushroom House


Mushroom house, Cincinnati

This hodgepodge of a house looks thrown together, but it was designed by Terry Brown, professor of architecture and interior design at the University of Cincinnati.

The house was a nondescript bungalow until the early 1990s, when Brown got his hands on it. The remodeling created a structure adorned with wood shingles, mosaics, art glass, peekaboo windows, and swirly orange stairs. Since the remodel, the house has sparked controversy among Erie Avenue residents, who have dubbed it "the Mushroom House" and the "Dr. Seuss House."

The Airplane House


The house with the airplane on top was built by Said Jammal as a tribute to his wife, Liza, an avid traveler. The plane is 100 feet long and 20 feet tall with a 50-foot wingspan.

As of 2006

, the house was unfinished, mostly because Said has done most of the work himself. Jammal has built a two-story control tower and planned to build a guest cottage topped by a smaller plane.

The Football House


Football house, Malawi

An odd-shaped lot and a passion for soccer led Dutch architect Jan Sonkie to design and build this house in Blantyre, Malawi's capitol city where he lives with his wife.

The house is four-stories high with at least one room on each level. According to the architect, the house stays cool in summer and warm in winter because of the materials he used: metal on the outside and wood inside.

The Bubble House


Bubble house, France

Actually, there are three bubble houses, all designed by Hungarian architect Antti Lovag, who prefers to be known as an habitologue, and is committed to the concept of organic architecture inspired by the shapes and forms found in nature.

Designer Pierre Cardin

stumbled upon a Bubble house under construction when he was looking to build his own home in the French Riviera. Lovag was finishing up the house, which had been commissioned by an elderly man who had since died. Cardin fell in love and built the house.

For what better habitation could one imagine for the genius behind the bubble dress, the trapeze coat, hat-sculptures, giant buttons, asymmetrical collars, and the chic-shock pairing of miniskirts and maxicoats? This promoter of the unusual in the realm of fashion?who got his start creating costumes and masks for Cocteau's La Belle et la B?te, was the first couturier to launch a ready-to-wear line, in 1959, staged the first fashion show in communist China, in 1979, and wasn't afraid to turn businessman, licensing his name to anything and everything and opening Maxim's restaurants worldwide?this agent provocateur had finally found his dream house.

Daniel Bord

, mayor of the village Festes-et-Saint-Andr?, owns another house which he built himself after attending a workshop run by Lovag. It took him 10 years.

The Crooked House


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. The most photographed building in Poland, the 4,000 square meter house is located in Rezydent shopping center in Sopot, Poland.

The Crazy House

The Hang Nga Guesthouse, known to locals in Dalat as the crazy house, was designed by Dang Viet Nga, the daughter of Vietnam's president in the 1980s.

The base of the building is a tree,

which can be seen especially from the outside.

Nga says 10 of the rooms, which are used as a hotel, are luxuriously fitted out, with fireplaces in each room in the shape of a wild animal, named Tiger, Bear or Kangaroo. The hotel?s top room, with a skylight, has an unobstructed view.

"I have for years dreamt of having a house resembling a jungle with flowers, trees, birds and beasts," Nga said. "With such a place, I want to bring people back to nature."

"Many people criticised me, even my colleagues. I don?t blame those who don?t understand me."

The Upside Down House

Upside down house, PolandThe house was built by Daniel Czapiewski in the village of Szymbark as a statement about the Communist era and the state of the world. The furniture inside the house hangs from the ceiling. Construction of the house took five times longer than usual because workers were disoriented by the strange angles.
The Cookie Jar House

Cookie jar house, Glendora, NJ

The builder of this house intended to make a community of similar houses, but the plan fell through.

"The house was built in 1947," said John. "It was built as a speculation house. They were going to make a community of them. Originally it had a flat roof and a stucco finish. The brickwork was added later, probably because with a flat roof, it had a lot of leak problems. I spent a lot of time fixing it up."

The three-story, steel framed building has a spiral staircase in the center going up to the roof, and a widow's walk. A tour of the inside makes one a bit disoriented because every room is semi-circular.

Mr. Toilet's House

Mr. Toilet's House, South Korea

Talk about bringing your work home with you. The Toilet House, located outside Seoul, is the brainchild of Sim Jae-Duck, member of the World Toilet Association. It was designed as part of Sim's campaign for better public hygiene.

The interior features a glass-walled bathroom that contains a mis-producing device to make sure users do not feel too exposed. Upon entering the bathroom, music erupts and the toilet'l lid raises.

Koreans also call the house "Haewoojae," meaning "a place of sanctuary where one can solve one's worries."
The Gangster House

Gangster house, RussiaNikolai Sutyagin, the gangster in question, started out wanting to build a house larger than his neighbors' to reflect his position as the city?s richest man.
Fifteen years and 13 stories later, the house in Archangelsk, Russia remains unfinished owing to Sutyagin's unfortunate incarceration.
Sutyagin was penniless after being released from prison; he says his rivals stole his business. He now lives on four rooms at the bottom of the house, which is falling apart.
Archangelsk city officials say the wooden structure a fire hazard and they want to tear the house down.
Shoe houses

Shoe house, PennsylvaniaThe Haines Shoe House from Pennsylvania was built as a gimmick by Mahlon Haines, owner of several shoe stores in Pennsylvania and Maryland.

Haines didn't live in the house, which was built in 1948. But he did open it up--for free--to guests.

The five-storey shoe house has three bedrooms, two baths, a kitchen and living room. Plus a boot-shaped dog house in the yard, a shoe mailbox and stained glass windows of Haines holding shoes in every window.

Shoe house, India

The Shoe House from India is in Kamala Nehru Park in Muimbai, India.

Shoe house, South Africa

The South African shoe house, located in Mpumalanga Province, was built in 1990 by entrepreneur and artist Ron Van Zyl, who built it for his wife Yvonne. The interior houses a museum of rock and wood carvings made by Van Zyl.

The House on a stick

House on a stick

The "Single Hauz" concept by Poland?s

Front Architects

borrows ideas from billboards. It sits atop a mast, creating you a two-story house that can be built just about anywhere. Its cantilevered design makes it easy to balance on top of a pole and pole-driven into a lake bed or bolted onto the side of a mountain.

Rachel Sawyer
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