My father built dollhouses for a living. After he died, my mother learned enough from him to take over the business. I edit and write stories about homes and real estate. My son wants to be a builder.
That is why the new book “H.O.U.S.E.: Homes That Are Outrageous, Unbelievable, Spectacular and Extraordinary” (Harper Design, $18,99) caught my family’s attention right away.
This colorfully illustrated, quirky book looks at 35 fascinating and jaw-dropping houses around the world, ones that exist or ones that have been conceived.
There’s an “inflatable house” in Germany, with an electric stove for boiling water, since the abode is designed only for drinking tea. In Canada, there’s a “nut house,” so named because the maker “always wanted to feel like a forest elf” — the wooden home looks like a hazelnut and hangs from ropes in a tree.
But the one example my 8-year-old son, Harrison, turned back to again and again was the “house for the homeless” — a design by a Polish artist based on suggestions made to him by people who live on the streets of New York City. The inexpensive-to-make, shopping cart-like contraption not only gives someone a place to sleep but space for storage.
In their introduction, authors Aleksandra Machowiak and Daniel Mizielinski explain that they wrote the book because people barely think about where houses come from or why they look the way they do. "If you're up the challenge, perhaps one day, thanks to you, there will be stunning and remarkable buildings around us, and our world will be more interesting," they write.
For an aspiring builder from a house-loving family, that is one lofty and worthwhile message.