Saturday, July 31, 2010

The House

Houses ought to be built on hills, but I’m against the idea of having a pool on a hill.  Water up high is a bad idea, and that is likely just a personal quirk. The owner of the house had in mind something like the Roman Coliseum, not like there would be mention of any other Coliseum but the Roman one. It’s a three story house, with an open atrium in the very middle, but with the three stories surrounding it, leading up on a spiral, but no staircases or stairwells at all.

Every room connects with another room via sliding door, and that’s part of the charm of the building is there is so much space there isn’t any real need for door or walls at all. The person who designed the house made it so when you see the house from the outside you see windows but you do not see any floors, and from the inside you see windows but you really cannot tell what floor you’re on either. It takes some getting used to, the walking up to a room not down or up a hallway, but up or down a ramp, and  were it not for the exquisite design for each room you might get lost. But once you enter a room you know, you really remember, where that room is in relation to the last miracle you just left. Each room’s wall is a mural, and each room has a particular set of windows that reveal the mural in a certain light.
There are no hand rails on the spiral walkways leading up, and in the middle of the night when you go from one room to anther that is something to remember. The small pool in the middle of the atrium serves as a North Star for it is always illuminated, but the designed wanted night to be night. There is very little artificial light in the spirals, and the observatory on the roof houses a telescope controlled by a computer that will reveal seasonal and habitual celestial delights.
Because the house is round, and because it is in an out of the way location, and because the designer and the builder of the house made sure that the general location was unknown, there are only a few tourists who visit the house each year. There are private security guards, of course, and the locals truly take umbrage at not being allowed on the property, but this is not a circus but a home. Over the years as the house has changed hands infrequently, all the owners have had one trait in common and that is the need for privacy. This is a building that speaks a language only a few can hear. This is a residence that can only be appreciated by a select few. The original owner who designed it left in his will a trust fund that insures a very complicated vetting process, so that each new owner complies with who the house really is.
The bottom floor, which is really the bottom of a spiral, is actually the third spiral, not the first or second. There is another building underground which houses the garage and the utilities. The sides of the building that face the sun collect energy from the light and covert into the power needed to operate the house itself. The bottom set of doors can be sealed by a rotating steel drum that once in place can only be moved via hydraulic pump, operated by hand. There are hidden compartments filled with water in case of fire, and but these compartments are heated by the sun so as to eliminate the need for hot water heaters.
One of the truly wonderful things about the house is the wings on top that can be unfurled and that will allow the top spiral to be disconnected, and it will rotate slowly in a stiff breeze. Nothing is left unharnessed that might be, and the wind is collected and stored like the sunlight. During storms the wings cannot deploy, of course, lest bad things happen, and the top spiral locks down if a certain speed is overmatched.
The pool, (did you catch my disapproval of the pool earlier) is a product of the waste water of the house being recycled and cleansed by solar and wind. It takes some never to swim in water that if not properly treated might kill you, but this is a house that covers all the bases. Rainwater is collected as well, and stored underground, so the use of external water is nearly zero. Unknown to most, there is also a generator that harnesses the power of the waves of the sea, half a mile away. The waves push a wheel forward and back all day and all night long, generating power for the house.

It is, of course, a house with secrets, and the library on the third spiral has a series of enigmatic painting and drawings that beg to be deciphered. They are rearranged, in a set pattern, every year, and if someone ever breaks the code I wonder what will happen. With the advent of the computer, the house was reworked for wireless, but the books still remain, as does the artwork. There is a replica of “Saint George and The Dragon” over the false fireplace in the library, and some consider this a clue, but I think it’s just a painting.

It’s the light and the darkness, really. It the daytime the windows let in an incredible amount of sunlight for reading, or painting, or living, and at night, there are no unimportant sources of light. Darkness is allowed to reign. The small pool of the atrium is lit, dimly, and the rest of the house remains pitch dark. It’s like being in a cave. Lights at night are strictly controlled so even if you want more light, it will illuminate a very small area, and no more.

I like this house a lot, I do.

Take Care,
Mike

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