nothing square in nature

A 1920 article from the Victoria Daily, a Canadian newspaper, described the round houses designed by New Orleans architect C.N. Wisner. Pointing to the fact that “nature doesn’t make things square,” Wisner argued that it was wrong for people to live in square rooms in rectangular houses –


and what-have-you

Architect Rudolph Matern — sometimes working with architects Herman York, Samuel Paul and others — was responsible for the design of tens of thousands of suburban homes during the US’s post-WWII residential construction boom. He sold architectural drawings for single-family homes via ads in local papers, blueprint catalogs, and model home exhibitions.

Here is his design G-92, a circular vacation home with four extruding wings, advertised in 1967 –

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The literal centerpiece of the house was its sunken circular lounge, “a kind of combination living room, family room and what-have-you” –

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As far as I can ascertain, the design was never built.

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a concrete mushroom

Designed by architect George Bissell in 1963, this house was a demonstration model for a nationwide association of cement companies. It was meant to show that concrete homes were modern, inexpensive, fashionable, and easy to maintain.

A “concrete ‘mushroom,’ of unsurpassed strength and stability,” said the house’s advertising brochure, “it is a major step forward in the development of minimum-maintenance housing, as well as a satisfying esthetic achievement.”

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The first house in the new master-planned community of Laguna Niguel, in Orange County, California, it was visited by thousands of people when it was first built. All concrete and glass, with a floating, scalloped concrete roof, it was unlike any other house in the neighborhood, either before or since. While it didn’t spark a craze for round, all-concrete homes, as its developers may have hoped, it did manage to find sympathetic owners who didn’t tear it down or renovate it beyond recognition.

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sunflower house

A mid-century round house in Madison, Wisconsin, has just hit the market


Built in 1952-53 by architect James Dresser, who studied with Frank Lloyd Wright at Taliesin, the house has a central skylight, curved hallways, cork walls, a mix of wood and cork floors, and a round brick fireplace. It was for some years the architect’s family home.

Structurally, the house is a concrete shell built on a radial framework of curved steel beams. Stylistically, it’s both circular and angular, its round form accented by a series of triangular windows.

The innovative house was featured in a November 1952 edition of Popular Mechanics, which said, in something of rhetorical flourish, that “cobwebs will never collect in the corners” of the new house because “there aren’t any corners.”

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