Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Top 5 Coolest, Craziest, and Strangest Homes

Going completely against the grain of cookie cutter home architecture can lead to disaster or something magnificent. In the case of following five homes, it resulted in the latter. These five homes have defied conventional wisdom to create the most unconventional, thought-provoking, and beautiful houses in the realm of architecture.

1. Upside-down House (Szymbark, Poland)

(Photo credit: Rossel)

Polish businessman Daniel Czapiewski gave new meaning to the term “house flipping” with his house in Szymbark, Poland. In a statement about the failures of the Communist era, Czapiewski did to this home what he thought Communism had done to the world: he turned it upside-down.

Construction of the home left its builders so disoriented that its construction took a whopping 114 days, far more than normal for a right-side-up house. Reports say the thousands of tourists who have visited the home since its construction in 2006, have also walked out having experienced battles with vertigo.

There are a number of other upside-down homes and buildings, but few capture the aesthetic beauty of Czapiewski’s design. Many others also double as theme parks, museums, or other non-house purposes, giving Czapiewski’s upside-down home the nod for the coolest overall home.

2. Fallingwater (Bear Run, Pennsylvania)

(Photo credit: Wmcclure333)

Famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright designed this masterpiece summer home in 1936 for Edgar J. Kaufmann, a department store mogul. Hovering atop a waterfall in Bear Run, Pennsylvania, the home is perfection of art in nature: an extraordinary design situated between a forest and a glistening waterfall.

The American Institute of Architects named this home the best all-time work of architecture in 1991.

3. Heliotrope (Freiburg, Germany)

Germany can drop to bitter cold temperatures in the winter and swing to sweltering heat in the summer. Rather than spend money on rising air conditioning and furnace prices,  architect Rolf Disch kept heating and cooling costs at minimum consequence to the environment and the wallet.

Disch devised a solar powered home that spins to face the sun in the winter and spins back to the opposite (and well insulated) side in the summer. Meanwhile, the home produces more energy than it needs using roof-mounted photovoltaic panels.

4. Crooked House (Sopot, Poland)

(Photo credit: tomek.pl)

Poland makes its second appearance on the list with this 4,000 square-foot visual distortion—reminiscent of a Salvador Dali painting or Dr. Seuss illustration. Architect Szotynscy Zeleski credited illustrators Jan Marcin Szancer and Per Dahlberg as inspiration of the three-story house, built in 2003 within the Rezydent shopping center. It has been cited as the most photographed building in Poland. It's easy to see why.

5. Pod House (Powder Mills Park, New York)

(Photo credit: Chris Marcera)

Inspired by a local flower, Queen Anne’s Lace, architect James H. Johnson designed several interconnected “pods” hovering high above the ground atop stems jutting from the center of each pod. Often referred to as the mushroom house, this oddity is a popular tourist attraction for visitors of nearby Rochester, New York.  It’s perhaps the most well known home that falls under the category of “organic architecture.”

Jim Davenport is a seasoned home improvement veteran with a passion for architecture.  He specializes in Carrier furnacesBryant furnaces, and other heating services.