The House of the Century
July 12, 2019 7:54 PM   Subscribe

When the so-called House of the Century rose from the swampy earth back in the early 1970s, it arrived as a vision of the future, a biomorphic experiment in modern living. Back then it was a bright white jumble on the shoreline, and depending on your angle of approach, it looked like either a man's erect genitalia or a giant schnoz.
posted by latkes (18 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
 
That's a charming story, and I have a soft spot for architectural follies.

As for the building itself... well, the entrance walkway is (was) awesome. The building itself would make a nice addition to Mos Eisley, but even wacky architects should know what they're doing. They basically made a house that's bad at being a house (third floor too hot, can't carry anything up there, leaky walls, dodgy plumbing).
posted by zompist at 8:53 PM on July 12, 2019 [3 favorites]


My first thought was "Yeah, it'd be neat to live in the House of the Century...in the Century of Cheap Air-Conditioning." I mean, artistically it's cool and all, but the very notion of living in a claustrophobic place like that - not to mention that hellish solar oven of an entryway - in the south's long hot humid summers almost literally gave me hives.

My second thought was "Yep, that's a dick."
posted by Greg_Ace at 9:12 PM on July 12, 2019 [2 favorites]


Similar to what locals call the Flintstone house, subject of a recent FPP.
posted by Rash at 9:14 PM on July 12, 2019 [2 favorites]


A great read and a fascinating project. I would have loved to be able to see the interior in person when it was new.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 9:17 PM on July 12, 2019 [2 favorites]


There's a very good reason why basic house design is/was pretty conventional, but this is an awesome folly. I think I want the sink.
posted by jrochest at 9:27 PM on July 12, 2019 [3 favorites]


Ant Farm's Media Burn

Whoa, I'd forgotten all about that.
posted by davejay at 11:34 PM on July 12, 2019


Article not available in Europe, sadly. Although it took so long to load the popup I was onto the second paragraph.

That must be intentionally phallic right? Because nobody could look at the architects drawings and not go "hmmm, that's pretty damn penis-y. Maybe TOO penis-y"
posted by stillnocturnal at 12:53 AM on July 13, 2019 [3 favorites]


no offense to Mrs. Oshman, but if you give an experimental architecture collective anything like free rein, the result will never not be a penis.

Anyhow from an aesthetic standpoint, I love the thing, but wish it had been constructed with durability in mind.
posted by notquitemaryann at 4:19 AM on July 13, 2019 [11 favorites]


Looks a bit like Xanadu: Home of Tomorrow, a Wisconsin tourist attraction of the 1970s.

According to Wikipedia, at least 3 of these foam domed houses were built around the U.S., all of them long-since demolished.
posted by cheshyre at 4:26 AM on July 13, 2019 [2 favorites]


I love the thing, but wish it had been constructed with durability in mind.

Unfortunately, it seems to have been. Now, it's the Eyesore of the Century.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:39 AM on July 13, 2019 [2 favorites]


Article not available in Europe, sadly. Although it took so long to load the popup I was onto the second paragraph.

Here’s a quick workaround: since the popup is indeed a bit slow to show up, before it does you have time to use Pocket or Instapaper to easily save the entire page despite the geoblocking.

OR, even easier: just Save the entire webpage to your desktop, the geoblocking popup won’t show up in the saved version.

Another recent article that’s not geoblocked here on Archinect: The House of the Century is falling apart.
posted by bitteschoen at 5:09 AM on July 13, 2019 [1 favorite]


no offense to Mrs. Oshman, but if you give an experimental architecture collective anything like free rein, the result will never not be a penis.

There's a dome house I drive past once in a while that was unmistakably modeled after a breast. (It even has a nipple on top!)

So, at least there is variation in what body parts the houses were modeled after?
posted by Dip Flash at 6:14 AM on July 13, 2019 [1 favorite]


From the Xanadu article:
Xanadu was also home to yearly, themed staff parties. “During the toga themed party, a young guy ran out of gas near the house. When he knocked on the door to ask to use our phone, he was so shocked by the site[sic] of everyone in togas partying in this strange looking house that we felt compelled to offer him a drink” Gussel laughs.
Please, please tell me his name was Brad!
posted by The Underpants Monster at 6:46 AM on July 13, 2019 [11 favorites]


The early 70s were so great. Why did we ever leave?
posted by allthinky at 6:57 AM on July 13, 2019 [2 favorites]


They say we had no choice.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 8:19 AM on July 13, 2019 [1 favorite]


You would need to be 100% stone cold sober to navigate that building. Every feature from the elevated "light beam" entrance way, to the 30' metal ladder with curved rungs up to the bedroom is hazardous to anyone with less than perfect balance.

It strikes me that this building would make a great prison cell for some evil oligarch.
posted by monotreme at 9:23 AM on July 13, 2019 [3 favorites]


It looks like part of Ape City from the original Planet of the Apes.
posted by octothorpe at 12:07 PM on July 13, 2019 [1 favorite]


Looks a bit like Xanadu: Home of Tomorrow, a Wisconsin tourist attraction of the 1970s.

According to Wikipedia, at least 3 of these foam domed houses were built around the U.S., all of them long-since demolished.
--cheshyre

Well there's one near San Francisco built in 1976 that people jokingly called the Flinstone House. Now there's a Flinstone House website with a cool 3D tour.

It was bought recently by this elderly Asian lady who is infuriating her wealthy neighbors by putting statues of actual Flinstone characters and dinosaurs in her garden. She's hired a lawyer to fight the lawsuit and to protect her right to self-expression in her own garden.
posted by eye of newt at 2:09 PM on July 13, 2019 [2 favorites]


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