Once upon a time — about 2,500 years ago — people in what is now Britain switched from building rectangular houses to building round houses: in many instances, small circular structures with wooden walls made of wattle and daub, no windows, a conical roof, and a single entrance. And for more than 2,500 years, from the early Bronze Age to the late Iron Age, they stuck with this circular design, even while people in the rest of Europe — or what later became Europe — lived in rectangular structures.

It was with the Roman conquest that the British, too, began to adopt rectangular house designs. But evidence of the region’s history of round construction can still be found in archeological sites all over the UK, from Dartmoor, Devon, England, to Aberdeenshire, Scotland.

In recent years, a number of replica round houses have been built. Below is one in Burwardsley, Cheshire, which is open to school groups and other visitors –

celtic round house

The dome home of Buckminster Fuller and Anne Hewitt Fuller in Carbondale, Illinois, is now being restored. The only dome in which the Fullers actually lived, it took less than a day to build: seven hours from start to finish.

buckminster fuller

fuller2

fuller3

 

Designed by maverick American architect Bruce Goff, the Ruth Ford House — known variously as the Round House, Coal House, and Umbrella House — is a creative tour de force.  It could not look less like neighboring houses in suburban Aurora, Illinois, where it was built in 1947-49, and local people took it as an architectural affront. Fortunately, as the photo below attests, the owners of the house were undaunted –

goff, ford house, life mag, 1951

Life Magazine published a several-page spread on the house in 1951, with lovely color photos by Eliot Elisofon of the house’s interior and exterior.

360 house

January 4, 2014 — 2 Comments

The 360 House, by the Dutch firm 123DV

123DV, 360 house 2

round house by 123DV

On the grounds of an abandoned military base in southern New Jersey, there survives a small collection of Buckminster Fuller’s Dymaxion Deployment Units (DDUs), the innovative designer’s WWII-era effort to create an inexpensive, portable housing system.

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as good a reason as any

November 24, 2013 — Leave a comment

“I don’t like corners.”

topsham, VT

For sale in Topham, Vermont. This video reveals its construction secrets.

les maisons ballons

November 21, 2013 — 2 Comments

A colony of Wallace Neff’s bubble houses (“maisons ballons”) in Dakar — as they look now –

neff, bubble houses, dakar, 2013

And as they looked in 1949, when they were built –

neff, bubble houses, dakar

360 degrees of architecture

November 18, 2013 — 3 Comments

cecil alexander, 1958

Cecil Alexander’s circular house in Atlanta, on the cover of Florida Architect in April 1958. Finished in 1957, the house was featured in Life magazine in November of that year, and in Progressive Architecture in November 1959.

300 degree house

November 10, 2013 — 3 Comments

A newly-built, near-circular house in Thornbury, England, is now on the market

thornbury, UK

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