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.

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los feliz lautner

November 6, 2013 — Leave a comment

The Harvey Residence, in LA’s Los Feliz neighborhood, designed by John Lautner in characteristically exuberant style –

john lautner, harvey house 4

john lautner, harvey house

john lautner, harvey house 3

john lautner, harvey house 2

Built in 1950, the house was said to be in terrible shape in 1998 when it was bought and restored by actress Kelly Lynch and writer Mitch Glazer. Lautner principal Helena Arahuete led the restoration, and the original builder, John de la Veaux, came back to assist on it.

The swirling living room is stunning.

Time and again, when people are asked to choose between an object that’s linear and one that’s curved, they prefer the latter. That goes for watches with circular faces, letters rendered in a curly font, couches with smooth cushions — even dental floss with round packaging. 

Recently neuroscientists have shown that this affection for curves isn’t just a matter of personal taste; it’s hard-wired into the brain …. “Curvature appears to affect our feelings, which in turn could drive our preference.”

Buckminster Fuller’s first Dymaxion House, sketched out in 1927, was a hexagonal design suspended from a central mast.

fuller, hexagonal model fuller dymaxion 1927

By 1945, when Fuller entered into an agreement with Beech Aircraft Corporation to mass produce the house, its plan was circular. Asked later about the Dymaxion House’s unusual form, Fuller said that functional rather than aesthetic considerations determined his choice. “We did nothing arbitrary,” he emphasized. “We were not trying to make a cute house. Its shape is due to the solution of our problems of space, weight and mass production.”

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“We are living in a spheroidal universe. A round spheroidal world—not a cubicle sugar lump world.”

— Buckminster Fuller, in 1929, presenting an early model of the Dymaxion House.

circle dreams

October 26, 2013 — 1 Comment

The circle-studded facade of NYC’s Dream Downtown Hotel –

dream downtown hotel, NYC

The hotel is the latest incarnation of an iconic 1966 building designed by Louisiana architect Albert C. Ledner, known for a sort of playful, oddball modernism. Just off Ninth Avenue, stretching between West 16th and 17th Street, the building was recently transformed by Handel Architects. The building’s 16th Street facade, above, was covered in shiny stainless steel, as was its 17th Street facade (on the left, below, in its original red-brick cladding).

maritime hotel

maritime_hotel_4

The building’s circular motif — equally in evidence in the adjoining Ledner-designed structure, the white tile and concrete Maritime Hotel — reflects the structure’s history. Both buildings were originally annexes to the headquarters of the National Maritime Union: the porthole windows were a coy reference to life at sea.

Ledner, whose use of circular forms extends from his professional to his personal life, or vice-versa, lives in a round house of his own design in New Orleans.

pittsburgh press - 4-12-46News of Buckminster Fuller’s circular aluminum house, complete with artist’s rendering, in the Pittsburgh Press, on April 12, 1946 –

 

 

INT, exhibition hall, men and women stand around a low display table showing a scale model of a circular home. R. Buckminster Fuller is interviewed by a man in a suit.

Man: “Mr. Fuller, why a . . . a round house???”

Fuller: “Why not? The only reason that houses have been rectangular all these years is that, that is all we could do with the materials we had. Now with modern materials and technology, we can apply to houses the same efficiency of engineering that we apply to suspension bridges and airplanes . . . . The whole thing is as modern as a streamlined plane.“

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a new kind of house

October 25, 2013 — 1 Comment

fuller house 2, nytimes, 1946

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all year round

October 20, 2013 — 1 Comment

This pretty circular house in Båstad, Sweden, was on the market earlier this year –

bastad, sweden

Beautifully located just off the beach, it was apparently build decades ago as some sort of outbuilding for the neighboring Hotel Riviera. Later it was converted into a vacation home, and later still into a permanent residence. Simple, elegant, and very cool.