A famous eccentric, the Fifth Duke of Portland
spent a fortune over twenty-five years constructing fantastical additions to his estate, Welbeck Abbey, including fifteen miles of underground tunnels.
The Duke was very introverted - he did not want to meet people and never invited anyone to his home. His rooms had double letterboxes, one for ingoing and another for outgoing mail. His valet was the only person he permitted to see him in person in his quarters - he would not even let the doctor in, while his tenants and workmen were told never to acknowledge his presence (a workman who saluted him was reputedly dismissed on the spot) and they received all their instructions in writing.
His business with his solicitors, agents, and the occasional politician was handled by post. The Duke maintained an extensive correspondence with a wide-ranging network of family and friends, including Benjamin Disraeli and Lord Palmerston. He is not known to have kept company with any ladies, and his shyness and introverted personality increased over time.
His reclusive lifestyle led to rumours that the Duke was disfigured, mad, or prone to wild orgies, but contemporary witnesses and surviving photographs present him as a normal-looking man.
He ventured outside mainly by night, when he was preceded by a lady servant carrying a lantern 40 yards ahead of him. If he did walk out by day, the Duke wore two overcoats, an extremely tall hat, an extremely high collar, and carried a very large umbrella behind which he tried to hide if someone addressed him.
If the Duke had business in London, he would take his carriage to Worksop where he had it loaded onto a railway wagon. Upon his arrival at his London residence, Harcourt House in Cavendish Square, all the household staff were ordered to keep out of sight as he hurried into his study through the front hall.
He insisted on a chicken roasting at all hours of the day, and the servants brought him his food on heated trucks that ran on rails through the underground tunnels.
Long essay here.
had become an eye sore that seemed unlikely to be renovated. Now it is a successful hotel of luxury suites.
is feeling pretty salty now!
British artist Alex Chinneck does strange things with buildings. His latest project
involved flipping a London building upside-down so that the front door is now at the top. (He didn't actually turn it upside-down. He attached a brick veneer to the outside to make it look that way.)
In an earlier project
, a building's brick veneer appears to be sliding off the house.
A reader known as "Pat@email@example.com" recently wrote in with some good info on an old WU topic:
" I have been a fan of Buckminster Fuller's writings for many years and just recently found out that he actually didn't invent the geodesic dome. It was invented by Walther Bauersfeld, a German engineer, some 30 years earlier for use as the first projection planetarium. Fuller did, however, apply for and was granted the U.S. patents. He took it's design and construction further and is credited with popularizing it. We have one in Fairbanks built in 1966 at a site originally called "Alaskaland" which was built to commemorate the centenial of the purchase of Alaska from Russia in 1867. It's called the Gold Dome and now houses an aviation museum. Also, there were many "golf balls" in the state during the Cold War which were used for radar."
A architectural student at University of Minnesota decided on a rather interesting thesis project. Hank Butitta transformed an old school bus into a cool mobile home. Its the Busmobile
If you're going to build a multi million dollar (or Euro) skyscraper
you might want to be sure the glass in it will not reflect sunlight strongly enough to melt cars on the street.
What's less than four feet wide, thirty-feet tall and thirty-three feet deep? And has a ladder entrance ten feet off the ground?
This 3D visualization gives you an idea what can be done when an old building and a newer building leave four feet between them. It's meant as a statement about the war destruction in Poland and the rebuilding being connected. The Keret home is named for the writer who will be living there.
He moves in Saturday, and says the narrow house is a "a kind of a memorial to my family," says Etgar Keret, whose mother's and father's families died in the Holocaust. His paternal grandfather died in Warsaw's uprising against the Nazis in 1944.
Here's the link for the whole story and more pictures.
Toilet and shower included, plus an "almost" double bed.
Not living large -- living thin!!
In 1954, 23-year-old Jack Fletcher showed off his new home to the media. Reporters called it the "house of the future" because of all the unique features he had designed into it. The windows closed by themselves when sensors felt rain. Lights came on automatically when someone entered a room. The phone had a speed-dial feature. The lamps didn't need cords. Instead you just placed them over induction coils installed in the floor. And strangest of all, electromagnets caused pots and pans to float over the stove (which also used induction coils to heat the food).
The house was in West Covina, CA (in the LA area). I wonder if it's still standing? I don't see why it wouldn't be, but I haven't been able to find an address for it. Read more about it here