Semi-detached from Reality – 5 Truly Unique House Designs

An Englishman’s home is his castle they say, and yet rarely do Englishmen own homes that resemble castles in any way. In fact, wherever you go in the world houses follow, for the most part, practical and utilitarian designs that conform to best practices of building with economy, safety and suitability to their environment. This can result in entire communities of identikit housing where character and individuality have been sacrificed to the gods of mass production. Happily there are exceptions; houses that are so off-the-scale in terms of their design and subsequent architecture that they are unlike any other dwelling on the planet. Here are 5 examples of such truly unique house designs.

The Conch Shell, Isla Mujeres, Mexico

Attrib: Šarūnas Burdulis (Flickr)

Taking the conch as its inspiration this remarkable house belongs to Mexican artist Octavio Ocampo, and follows organic lines both inside and out. The living spaces are circular and have a smooth shell-like finish. Much of the detailing of the interior décor is fashioned from seashells and coral found on nearby beaches and the marine theme is echoed throughout the Conch Shell’s 5,500 feet of living space which includes two bedrooms and two bathrooms.

The Steel House, Lubbock, Texas

Attrib: jczart (Flickr)

Begun in 1973 by sculptor and architect Robert Bruno and using 110 tonnes of steel, the Steel House was developed organically over thirty-four years with walls being moved and rebuilt, rooms expanded, and stained glass windows and other architectural features being added. The house stands on four ‘legs’ and overlooks the dramatic landscape of Ransom’s Canyon. Built entirely by his own hand, Bruno was only able to enjoy his three storey creation for the eight months prior to his death in 2008. Now iconic, the Steel House has been opened to the public and receives visitors from around the world.

‘Haewoojae’, the ‘Toilet House’, Seoul, South Korea



Sometimes it may be possible to take your dedication to a good cause just a little too far. In the case of Sim Jae-duck, the late chairman of the organizing committee of the Inaugural General Assembly of the World Toilet Association, this fanaticism extended to the design and construction of a house shaped like an enormous toilet bowl. Sim Jae-duck regarded the toilet and sanitization as fundamental to resolving worldwide health issues, and upon his death in 2009 the impressive 420-meter squared steel and glass ‘toilet house’ was converted to a public museum celebrating the history of the restroom.

The Round House, Connecticut, USA



Designed by renowned architect Richard T Foster, the Round House enjoys a picturesque lakeside setting in four acres of beautiful Connecticut countryside. The aspect that makes the Round House unique is that you can admire the entire landscape around you without moving from your seat. Featuring floor-to-ceiling windows around its perimeter, the entire Round House slowly rotates 360o on its base taking around fifty minutes to turn full circle. For those with the $2 million price tag to spare, the round house is finished with fixtures and fittings to the highest standards of luxury.

Attrib: Emily Engle (Flickr)    
The influence of classical Japanese architecture isn’t what makes the design of this house unique, it’s the fact that it’s built on a waterfall of the Bear Run tributary of Pennsylvania’s Youghiogheny River. Designed by the famous American architect Frank Lloyd Wright in 1935, Fallingwater is perfectly integrated with its natural environment and has been deemed the ‘best all-time work of American architecture’. Once the private family home of the successful businessman Edgar Kaufmann Senior, Fallingwater was opened as a public museum in 1964 and has been listed by the prestigious Smithsonian Institute as one of 28 must-visit places before you die.

Amy Sawyer is a freelance writer currently working with Skip and Bin Hire who provide an essential service for many ambitious home renovation projects!

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