As more and more people rebel against ticky-tacky, cookie-cutter homes, options are growing for more unique, satisfying dwellings.
Popular Mechanics' Chris Sweeney recently created a great list of 18 of the world's strangest homes. And though there are arguably some even stranger ones out there (the toilet-shaped home, for one, or the coral castle), one of the things we like about Popular Mechanics' list is a strong focus on sustainability.
The Popular Mechanics collection focuses on designs that think outside of the box and approach sustainability from a holistic perspective. Some include recycled materials, but recycling itself isn't usually the central theme.
You don't have to live in a house built out of discarded tires, bottles, or vehicles to "go green." There are many ways that we can all go green in our homes, no matter what they look like or where they are located. Switching to more efficient light bulbs and appliances, trying out energy monitoring devices, and boosting insulation are a few examples.
For the greenest of Popular Mechanics' strange houses, look below:
Photo: Courtesy of Free Spirit Spheres
Free Spirit Spheres
Looking like something from Star Wars, suspended tree houses known as Free Spirit Spheres excite the imagination. Made by Tom and Rosy Chudleigh from British Columbia, the "tree houses for adults" are handmade from local wood.
The spheres are recommended for meditation, photography, canopy research, leisure, wildlife watching and other activities, and they can be ordered fully loaded with plumbing, electricity and insulation. Some are available for rental, and DIY kits are offered. They reportedly sway in the wind.
The Nautilus House
Perhaps what Gaudi would have envisioned if he were asked to decorate a sea shell, the Nautilus in Mexico City was completed in 2006 by architect Javier Sensonian of Arquitectura Orgánica. Sensonian practices what he calls "bio-architecture," and has designed buildings shaped like snakes, whales and other living things.
The Nautilus was built for a young family who wanted something that felt more integrated with nature, and it is filled with lush vegetation. The front door blends into the colorful mosaic facade.
The Steel House
One glance at the fantastical Steel House, and you'll never forget it. Designer Robert Bruno wanted it to look somewhere between animal and machine, and we think he succeeded. The unique home is perched on a bluff near Lubbock, Texas, and minimizes disruption to the area by resting on top of four skinny legs.
Steel is long-lasting and highly recyclable, so green builders have been giving it a second look in recent years, especially for roofing. Inside, the Steel House looks more H.R. Giger than Martha Stewart, and it doesn't look like the most practical living space, but it definitely is thinking outside of the four-walled box.