Vintage postcards of round houses from Somerville, Massachusetts to Nunspeet, Holland. Only two of these homes are still standing -
Archives For ’30s
The traditional beehive houses of northern Syria are among the country’s architectural treasures -
Found in villages near Aleppo, the conical structures were designed to trap cool air and keep out the hot sun, making them well suited to the harsh desert climate. While similar structures were common throughout the Middle East and Mediterranean region a few thousand years ago, only in Syria do they still exist.
This 1930s postcard shows a beehive village to the northeast of Aleppo, possibly Sarouj -
These unique buildings are now at risk of destruction. In addition to killing tens of thousands of civilians, the war in Syria has devastated the country’s cultural and architectural heritage. Five of Syria’s six UNESCO world heritage sites have reportedly been damaged, and UNESCO recently placed all of these sites on its list of sites in danger. The members of the World Heritage Committee urged all parties to the conflict in Syria to “refrain from any action that would cause further damage to cultural heritage of the country and to fulfill their obligations under international law by taking all possible measures to protect such heritage.”
A stunning half circle of an apartment building in central London, designed by Scottish modernist architect Thomas S. Tait in 1934 -
An “exceptionally bright apartment” in the building is currently on sale for £2,200,000. The apartment has a good view of the Park Tower Knightsbridge, a round concrete behemoth on the south side of Hyde Park.
With the death of Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer on December 5, the world has lost a leading proponent of curved, rounded, wavy and spiraling forms. A modernist innovator, Niemeyer, who began working in the late 1930s, eschewed the straight lines and boxy shapes that had characterized modernism up to that time.
“Right angles don’t attract me. Nor straight, hard and inflexible lines created by man,” explained Niemeyer in The Curves of Time, his 1998 memoir. “What attracts me are free and sensual curves. The curves we find in mountains, in the waves of the sea, in the body of the woman we love.”
Le Chasseur Français, a French hunting magazine, ran an article on round houses in December 1950.
The author, architect Gérard Tissoire, described a small round house, presumably of his own design, in exhaustive detail, from the entryway to the windows to the bedrooms to the closets. He responded first to the claim that such a house was impractical -
Good people will say, “A round house isn’t ‘livable.’ How are you supposed to arrange furniture when you have round walls?” These good people forget that round houses are divided up by walls and partitions that form flat surfaces; that in general the rooms will be in a nice fan shape, with windows in an arc toward the view; that where necessary a cupboard can conveniently and usefully correct an irregularity, and that one can even, exceptionally, build furniture with cylindrical backs.
Built in the 1930s, the Martin Zech house near Sauk City, Wisconsin, is a two-story wood house with a cupola -
A columnist with the Wisconsin State Journal described its idiosyncratic style in April 1946:
“The Zech house is absolutely round … not octagonal … and the second story is somewhat smaller in circumferance than the first so that, from the distant road, it appears to be two fine cheeses of different sizes set one on top of the other. Inside the rooms are pie-shaped, except that the tip of each is cut off by a small round central hallway.”
“Mr. Zech built it that way, he said, simply because he liked it that way, and the idea was original with him.”
A recent photo shows it looking much the same.
In Long Island, New York, “an exercise in how to fit circles together” -
Designed by architect Wallace K. Harrison in the 1930s, the Harrison Estate served as a laboratory for Harrison’s architectural ideas. “The home’s signature element, the circle, is found in the forms of the living room, small former dining room, pool, and even concrete pavers used for walkways . . . . Amongst the many artists and friends whom enjoyed the house were Alexander Calder, Marc Chagall, Mary Callery, Robert Moses, and Le Corbusier.”
“He builds landmarks,” Time Magazine said of Harrison in 1952.
His Long Island house was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1985.
A modernist round house at the Frinton Park Estate, in Frinton-on-sea, Essex. It was designed by architect Oliver Hill in November 1934, and altered by another group of architects before its completion in 1935 -