would you live in a circular house?

November 8, 2013 — 12 Comments

Back in the late 1950s, when living in the suburbs was understood to be the common aspiration of mankind, the magazine Suburbia Today asked this question of its readers. In an article about the “unusual suburban home” of Mr. and Mrs. Walter Benson, whose circular floor plan offered ample open space for entertaining guests, it gave an appealing glimpse of life in the round.

Stunning views, tasteful furnishings, elegant cocktail parties — a round home was modern and glamorous, the magazine suggested.

mario corbett, round house, sausalito

The Walter Bensons wanted their house to be round so that they could get maximum exposure to their magnificent views. To live way, way up on the top of a mountain in a house that seems to melt in with its surroundings; to look freely all about you and see the mountain ridges to the side, the bay and ocean below, and the teeming city across that you must be part of and yet can turn away from at will — this was the dream of the Bensons.

suburbia today article, 1959Designed by Bay Area architect Mario Corbett in 1954, the Benson’s redwood and glass house was built on a hillside in Sausalito, California. It is now nearing its sixtieth anniversary — still there — and still, one assumes, a great place for a cocktail party.

suburbia today


12 responses to would you live in a circular house?


    Very funny article. To me, it’s really not the suburbs as it’s just 10 minutes to San Francisco from that part of Sausalito. I’m sure the views are amazing – San Francisco, the Bay and maybe even the Golden Gate Bridge.

    Marvin McConoughey November 8, 2013 at 6:41 pm

    Yes, i would live in a round house, and have, for 26 years now.

    Livon Diramerian November 9, 2013 at 11:19 am

    Circular houses are better forms to live in.To get the best effect of circular forms, furniture should be designed on the same principle.

      Marvin McConoughey May 17, 2014 at 12:52 pm

      You are correct, Livon. We were particularly fortunate to find an old curved pew of the same curvature as our house. It sits in the living room near the entry and serves as an informal sitting space for casual visitors.


    Built a multiple dome house as an experiment 18 months ago. The inside environment is warm, dry and enveloping. No cavities, no rebar, no formaldehives. From a sceptic I now believe it’s the way of the future. Our problem is we need some one to design the internal spaces.

      Marvin McConoughey May 17, 2014 at 12:50 pm

      Designing the round house interior is by far the most difficult challenge to meet. We came up with a very elegant interior, but not a particularly space efficient design. Many round houses have used a pie slice configuration for the rooms. This is a useful approach but at some cost to the “feeling” of roundness in the rooms. For small round houses a maximally open interior may be the most efficient approach.

    Livon Diramerian June 4, 2014 at 2:08 pm

    The house doesn’t have to be of one circle. It can be of several circles that are related to each other.

    Livon Diramerian June 4, 2014 at 2:10 pm

    The house doesn’t have to be of one circle. It can be of several circles that are related to each other.Thanks Marvin for your reply.


    I have, and I found it freeing and enjoyable. A built in kitchen and bathroom help. “Square” furniture isn’t “hip” in a round house. But you can work with it. Pie-shaped bathroom was fine. Hexagons and Octagons share the liberating aspects, but work better for the square furniture. But I’m for ROUND. My round house in Mexico had 10-foot ceilings, was made of brick, and block, white-washed in and out. Built on an elevated slab (foundation built on a slope, and filled in, and then slab poured). Roof was also a thick slab 4-6 inches thick. Windows were decorative concrete tiles about 12 inches square, set like mortared bricks. Concrete floor had yellow ochre color. Doors and frames were wood. Central wall divided front half (living room-Kitchen combined); rear half was bedroom, with pie section for bathroom (opened to front half only). Very practical for sub tropical West coast of Mexico. Bucket of Clorox and water on the floor; sweep that out the front door, and you’re home after months away. Screens kept bugs out. Iguanas lived in the windows and voids in the cinder block. No sweat. Water tank on the roof for gravity water. Built by an old German as proof against hurricanes. Smart old guy! About 20 feet in diameter. Miss it and would like to make another just like it!


    I live in the house pictured. It is an amazing home with even more amazing views!


    I would, and do, live in a round house in Paradise, California. The design is brilliant with a stone fireplace in the center of the house.

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