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The word “extreme” means different things to different people, but to these homeowners it means pushing the envelope as far as possible, dreaming, daring, and innovating. From construction to completion, take an up-close look at some of the world’s most spectacular homes ever built.
This unusual house is in Berkeley, California. It’s a beautiful place to live but earthquakes are a worry, particularly for architect Eugene Tsui’s elderly parents, so Eugene turned to nature for inspiration. The structure is based upon the world’s most indestructible living creature, the Tardigrade. With its oval plan and parabolic top it utilises the same structural principles nature employs in creating an astoundingly durable design, by curving the outline of his house, he wind proofed it.
All floors, walls, and ceilings were built as one unit from recycled Styrofoam strengthened with concrete Rastra blocks and steel rods. This kind of continuous construction dissipates the force of earthquake tremors on the house. Every part of the house is interconnected structurally with every other part of the house, the structure disperses stresses and strains that act upon it unilaterally. If some other kind of disaster strikes the Styrofoam blocks are so tightly packed together that no air can get through, making them fireproof and waterproof.
Two massive convex windows act like magnifying glasses and flood the central atrium with natural sunlight. The oculus eye-shaped lens on the south side is angled low to catch the light and heat of the dim winter sun, but not the hot summer sun. The round windows may look strange but there’s a very good practical reason to use them, they let in 30% more light, and are 200 times stronger than a flat window.
The interior of the 220+ square metre property has no stairs. Multiple levels inside the building are reached by a series of ramps which culminate in a central circular ramp at the midpoint of the house. Because this is an earthquake proof house, the ramps and just about everything else, are curvilinear for safety and ease of passing
The name of the house is “Ojo Del Sol” (The Sun’s Eye) and is featured in the “Extreme Homes” documentary series. It is internationally touted as the world’s safest house.