WEIRD WEDNESDAY: Round And Round We Go

One strategy in the design of more sustainable buildings is to orient structures so they benefit from the sun (for both natural daylighting and interior temperature purposes). A family in Australia, with the help of numerous sponsors, built a house several years ago that would maximize the benefit they glean from the sun—they did this by building a rotating house. The octagonal structure, completed in March 2006, was designed to rotate in order to take advantage of sunshine and shade at different times of the day and year.

Windows and glass doors constitute a large part of the exterior walls. Additionally, the house is heated and cooled with a geothermal energy system, which supplies a constant 22°C (71.6°F) to the house through the central core.

Exterior of the Everingham house
Exterior of the Everingham house

Luke Everingham, who owns the house with his wife, Deb, says on their Web site: “The idea was born when our neighbours were expounding the virtues of their new home and commented that if they could start again they would orientate the house 15° more to the north. Deb said, ‘Wouldn’t it be handy to have a house that could move?'”

The design concept was based on the following principles:

  • The cost must not exceed that of a conventional house of the same size and level of appointment; the owners says the house cost A$700,000 (USD$641,000).
  • The layout and finish must be highly functional
  • The end result must require very little maintenance
  • The house must be white ant proof
  • The rotating aspect must allow the occupants to maximize exploitation of weather conditions, seasonal conditions, and 360° views.

    Touchscreen control panel
    Touchscreen control panel

Set atop a turntable-like mechanism, which is powered by an electric motor, the house can rotate a full 360° around a central core of plumbing and electrical systems. A touchscreen control panel in one of the rooms enables the Everinghams to change the positioning of the house. The speed can also be varied—say company is coming and a certain view is desired, the family can speed up the change (at top speed, a full rotation takes about 30 minutes). If time isn’t an issue, the house can be rotated on a slower speed, which takes approximately two hours for a full rotation.