Somehow in putting together my list of round houses for sale I overlooked the most fabulous of them all: Seymour Harris’ Tukal, in Hampshire, England. At an asking price of £12 million (over $18 million), it is easily the world’s most expensive circular home, but unlike some of round McMansions currently on the market, it’s more than just an ostentatious display of wealth — it has style and daring.
Yes, it’s monstrously large — and yes, it has its own lake, 10-acre garden and private dock — but beyond the glitz are some appealing ideas about structure, transparency and the flow of space.
Designed by architect Seymour Harris in 1962 as home for himself and his wife, the house in its current iteration might be best understood as an asynchronous collaboration between Harris and architect Nic Bailey. Harris moved to the Bahamas in 1968; the house suffered through a series of bad owners and unhappy renovations, and Bailey was brought in to salvage it several years ago, when the house was bought by its current owner, Mike Browne.
In its original glory, the house was truly something –
Photos from its heyday show it clad in pink marble, set off with vertical aluminium fins. The building contained pockets of semi-outdoor space — the car ramp, balconies and a generous roof terrace. The interior was an amazing display of late-1960s taste — a symphony of luxury living in brown, orange and white, with Scandinavian furniture and a three-storey tropical-plant house.
By the end of the ’80s, though, the house had been stripped of most of its decorative bling; goodbye pink marble; goodbye aluminium fins, hello bland wood siding and staid country cottage decor. It was a mermaid disguised as a librarian; it didn’t make sense.
When Bailey began work on the house in 2005, he went back to the original structural elements, and made ample use of glass to open the house up. It’s not a copy of what it was before, but, like the original, it’s modern and exhilarating.
As for Seymour Harris, the house’s designer and original owner: he went on build other innovative houses in other spectacular locations — we’ll hear more about him later.