If Frodo Baggins inhabited our world instead of Middle Earth, he'd probably run as fast as his hairy feet could carry him to make an offer on this subterranean home. Burrowed into a sandy knoll in Atlantic Beach, Fla., the "Dune House" has the trappings of the dwelling commonly populated by Frodo's kinsmen. Well, at least on its grass-covered exterior.
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If the ring-bearer stepped into the two concrete shells that comprise the home's interior, for once he'd be possessed by something other than that accursed ring: awe. The entrance leads down a winding staircase into the kitchen, living and dining rooms -- some of which feature oval windows that stare out over beachfront into the Atlantic -- and the home's furniture is built into the interior, making it resemble a space capsule.
Designed by famed architect William Morgan in 1975, the beachfront dome -- more or a less a duplex -- delivers 1,500 square feet, including two bedrooms and two bathrooms.
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With Hurricane Irene bearing down on the Eastern Seaboard, homeowners are battening down the hatches from North Carolina to New York this weekend. But if you lived in one of the uniquely sturdy homes on our list, Irene might pack a less powerful punch. From semi-subterranean shelters to conch-shaped fortresses, hippie dirt mounds to high-art domes, we explore some of the coolest places to weather a storm.
Advertised as "off-the-grid," this 3,140-square-foot home just outside of Taos, N.M is listed for $495,000. It has a spacious living room, fireplace and half-bath, kitchen dining area, patio and deck, and is powered by solar panels and a wind turbine.
The bedroom, encased in concrete and wood is surrounded by "mature" trees -- you know, like the kind you can have deep conversations with. Also on the patio awaits an appliance which may come as a surprise: a barbecue. Who's up for some grilled arugula!?
See homes in Taos, N.M.
The center of the home hosts its green nuts and bolts: There, a giant cistern stores the home's H20 next to an interior waterfall and the solar battery apparatus.
These renderings sketch the designs of "eco-cottages," green homes that nestle into hills that will dot the perimeter of Frank Lloyd Wright's famous waterfall-straddling home known as "Fallingwater." The innovative homes were selected through a design competition, according to inhabitat.com.
The jury that selected the home reportedly stated: "In its subtlety, it is provocative and it carries forward the discourse about where architecture can move." Construction of the cottages is still in the fund-raising phase.
Tardigrade House is modeled after "the world's most indestructible living creature -- the Tardigrade," according to the designer's website. Don't know what a Tardigrade is? Neither did we. According to Webster's, it's a category of microscopic animal that comprises the water bears. The partially buried home constructed of styrofoam and cement is internationally "touted as the world's safest house," the designer's website proclaims.
The concrete foundation sits over a series of perforated drainpipes that carry away floods. While it may have the hardiness of something microscopic, the place actually turns out to be quite spacious: The three-story home contains three bedrooms and bathrooms.
Rock-solid homes don't always come cheap. This dome complex in Brainerd, Minn. costs $1.5 million. Financed by the Water Foundation. Polystyrene insulation under the concrete creates a "thermal envelope" that wraps around the structure.
Nifty windows flood the wood interior with natural light. The home includes the "Biological Composting Toilet System" that the home's designer, Natural Spaces Domes, estimates has saved Minnesotans 900,000 gallons of water.
Located in the sleepy Swiss village of Vals, this high-concept vacation home is literally built into the pastoral scenery. The brainchild of architectural firms SeARCH and Christian Muller Architects, the home was designed to "strengthen the surrounding landscape" -- not dominate it.
The Villa Vals booking site, which offers the home to visitors for 3,500 euros ($5,061) per week during peak season, notes that the interior is filled with furnishings by some of the most cutting-edge Dutch designers.
OK, we can't in good faith suggest that people seek shelter from hurricane force winds in this glass and steel cube -- but what a way to spend a rainy night in! From ground level, only the sleek cubic shell is visible. But for those invited in, the basement level pool is sure to please. Located in a wooded area in Long Island, N.Y., the 4,500 square-foot Sagaponic House is perfect for outdoorsy revelers.