The Sky’s the Limit
Posted: January 1, 2022
Build it, then: Crank it. Spin it. Raise it. Lower it. Shift it. Rearrange it. These days, the sky is the limit when it comes to designing buildings that move. Some office structures rotate. Houses swivel. Floors float. Motors move gigantic buildings. More and more buildings are being designed to make life easier for the people who use them—by adapting in unexpected ways.
There was a shift in architectural design after the influenza pandemic of 1918. To keep germs away, builders focused on putting smooth, easy-to-clean surfaces in the homes they built. They added skylights and balconies so that people could have plenty of sunshine and fresh air. Laundry chutes were popular. These indoor slides used gravity to send dirty clothes to the washroom. The chutes kept germs from moving all over the house. Around the same time period, builders were creating buildings with moving parts like machines!
François Massau built a rotating house in Belgium in 1958. He built the spinning house so that his sickly wife could enjoy the warm sunshine as much as possible.
Villa Girasole is in Verona, Italy. Its name means “sunflower,” which is fitting. The home turns to follow the Sun’s movement. It makes a complete circle in nine hours and 20 minutes.
At the touch of a button, Villa Hush Hush lifts 130 feet in the air. Residents in the London, England, building can choose to have the privacy of trees, or they can raise the building to enjoy a treetop view.
The Sun can be scorching hot in Gothenburg, Sweden. Architects planned for heat when they built the Kuggen Building. Motors twist a sunscreen around the building to provide shade.
Principality Stadium in Cardiff, Wales, is the second-largest stadium in the world. It has a fully retractable roof that is held together by 200,000 nuts and bolts. It takes 20 minutes for motors to fully open the roof.
The Orchid House in the United Kingdom doesn’t spin. Its outside walls are fixed in place. But walls inside the house can be shifted around. That makes changing room sizes easy!
What’s next? A house that can walk? Well . . . Engineers in China moved an entire building using “robot legs.” The legs slowly walked the building from one location to another!