wooden folly 20102 baumhauer s germany 1


Architects: Philipp Baumhauer with Karoline Markus
Location: Southern Germany
Project Year: 2010
Photographs: Julien Lanoo


The pavillion, which was commissioned privately, was originally conceived and planned as a tea house. In the course of the planning phase, the project evolved into a decorative and ornamental structure that was given a new purpose.

It grew into a Folly of the kind that populated 18th century landscaped gardens in England and turned into an edifice without a clear definition – a larger than lifesize abstract piece of furniture.

Niches in the facade, the roof as well as the interior, where cushions await, invite reposal. The exterior consists of planed boards of larchwood, whose smoothness contrast with the weathering process.

No flashing (cover sheet), socket or visible attic, detract from the sharp edges and solidity of the structure – in part to ensure that the aging process will appear completely homogeneous.

When not in use, the pavillion is closed with shutters made of highly polished stainless steel. In this way depth is achieved not only by structural means but in an imaginary and illusional way using the reflecting qualities as a mirror.



wooden baumhauer folly 2




cornwall grotto seat


The Folly Fancier now has a facebook presence where you can read about follies and post your own. Unlike this blog, it is not restricted to modern follies but covers any follies, anywhere, any age. It is a public site, anyone can view. Why not pop over there and have a look and if you like it, drop me a friend request and join us.

Just go to facebook, and type Folly Fancier in the search bar along the top to find us.

The light shines out of me grotto jupiterartland june 2012

The Light Shines Out of Me, Amethyst grotto, Jupiterland, Scotland

The Light Shines Out of Me is a new grotto/art work, conceived by Scottish artist Anya Gallaccio for Robert and Nicky Wilson at Jupiterartland, their home near Edinburgh in Scotland. It was completed in June 2012.

Discussing the work, Gallacio told the Times newspaper:“I wanted to make a contemporary folly or grotto, a nod to the great 18th century tradition of British landscape gardening.  This is a sculpture but it is also part of a garden”.

The grotto was excavated 5m into the ground and consists of a 3m square chamber lined with Brazilian amethyst. It was assembled by two dry-stone- wallers. The amethyst cube is framed by a rectangle filled with 10 tons of obsidian glass, from Oregon and enclosed in a hornbeam hedge.

It took nine months and a large team to construct. By 2013 it will be covered with the ferns, which will have grown back so that the fencing will be almost invisible.


the light shines out of me closeup

All the best grottoes lure you in with an equal measure of awe and wonder and The Light Shines Out of Me, will be no different. Gallacio says : “I would like it to be unsettling- and people to question whether they should enter or not. Then when they come into the space, it is very formal, grandiose but also intimate, a quiet place for one or two people.

The healing properties of amethyst are also a reference to Robert Wilson’s family company, Nelson’s [homeopathic remedies]. The Jupiterland estate has many commissioned art works and sculptures and is open to the public in the summer months. www.jupiterland.org

Westonbury bottle dome

The glass bottle domed fernery by the old mill stream at Westonbury Mill, Herefordshire

The further you get into the darkest researches of the English countryside, the more likely you are to encounter the sort of enterprising  Englishman with the imagination and the land to build himself a modern folly.

Richard Pim is just such a fully fledged English eccentric. At the Westonbury Mill Water gardens near the village of Pembridge in the Welsh Marches, he has laid out  the 3 ½ acre garden, around the tangle of streams and ponds behind the old corn mill, with exuberant plants and a range of follies to delight and amuse his visitors.


Westonbury domeInside

Sunlight streams through the glass inside the Fernery

The follies include a Dome fernery made from wine bottles – nicknamed the blotto-grotto – and a castellated Stone Tower, which spurts jets of water from its three gargoyles. (Water is pulled up the tower from the mill stream by a water wheel to a tank and then on reaching the set level, ‘flushes’ out of the gargoyle’s mouth.)

Westonbury stoneTower1


There is also a thatched African Summer House and a Spiral Mound. Spiral Mound began as a muddy mini-mountain built from the spoil from the canal. It now forms a focal point of the Wild Flower Meadow, climbed by a grass path and gives a splendid view over the meadows.


Westonbury oakTower3


Mr Pim’s latest folly is the Oaken Tower, built by a local half-timbering specialist which overlooks the garden and has a first floor viewing platform and is nearing completion.

The tower has a watery theme, with a broad shaft up the centre displaying the mechanism of the water powered clock and singing bird – in effect a huge cuckoo clock!

In an update on his website Mr Pim reports “I am now working on parts of the water powered clock and singing bird mechanism. The musical part is being made by a friend who restored the Renaissance singing birds at the Villa d’Este – it should be fun! “

And that is of course the whole point of a folly – above all it should be fun.

Get along there and visit them this summer. The Westonbury Mill Water Gardens are open every day until the end of September. http://www.westonburymillwatergardens.com/index.html

Home for a Hobbit

A Low Impact Woodland Home - Simon Dale (1)

Who has not at some time hankered after a Hobbit Hole? The peace, the seclusion of life in the shire? Well if you have a reasonably large garden or back yard, this dream can now be yours. There are several versions of the Hobbit Home on offer but this is a particularly attractive version. It was built by Simon Dale and his father in law in Wales, as a low impact woodland home, with only a little help from their friends using mostly materials found on site – and  it cost a princely 3000 pounds sterling.

Read more about it




A Low Impact Woodland Home - Simon Dale (14)



A Low Impact Woodland Home - Simon Dale (2)

Follies have been a bit thin on the ground lately but now comes news of one designed to cheer up folly builders everywhere. Forget the euro and feast your eyes on this:




Heinz Schönewolf, a retired bricklayer and his wife Hildegard from Dudweiler, Germany, have spent the last 37 years building a 350 square-foot fairy tale castle, right in their own backyard. The 15-meter-high and 15-meter-wide Schönewolf Castle features towers, battlements, narrow pathways, a charming Rapunzel room and even an 18,000 litre aquarium in the basement. Note too the many gnomes scattered liberally around the ramparts.

Like all the best follies, it started small but then took on a life of its own. Schönewolf told German newspaper Bild that his beautiful backyard castle started out as a simple retaining wall that he simply kept embellishing over the years. The German couple estimate they’ve spent about €50,000 on the castle so far

Ever since he started work on it, in 1975, Heinz has spent every single day making his castle better, and his wife Hildegard says they never even went on a holiday, only to visit her husband’s mother, in Hessen. Well a man needs a hobby after all.

Although he says the backyard castle will never really be finished, because he always wants to add new things, Heinz has already opened it up for public visits, free of charge.


Fujimori treehouse


Knowing how much many of you like tree houses, here is another example of the vernacular for you to admire, this time by Japanese architect, Terunobu Fujimori. (The Japanese seem to have a particular weakness for weird yet decorative tree houses.) Situated in Nagano, Japan, the structure is elevated 20 feet and sits atop two tree trunks. As Fujimori explains it: “One leg is dangerous and three legs are too stable and boring.”

treehouse by blue trees


Tree houses are fertile ground for folly builders and Blue Forest makes some gorgeous examples, as you can see in these pictures.




But while the setting and the materials may be all about getting back to the nature, inside they tell a different story.


blue forest interior            Tree_House_Office_4_gallery-image-600x364


Outside all is rural charm, inside the owner is ensconced in a cosy stylish wooden room with a flat screen television and a wine fridge. All this and peace and quiet too, what more could a discerning owner want?


Blue Forest’s founders Andy and Simon Payne grew up in East Africa where they spent their childhood enjoying the beauty and adventure of the great outdoors. According to their website their UK based company’s treehouses were born from these experiences and from a desire to bring other people closer to the natural world. Read more at www.blueforest.com



It’s quite surprising how many people harbour a design to build an upside house. Sometimes it’s a statement on modern life and the builder even puts in the furniture upside down: visitors frequently report feeling seasick. But some topsy-turvy builders just want to turn their life on its head and even live in their creations.




Here is a selection of upside down houses, if you recognise one and even better have visited one, let us know what it is called and what it was like inside.












Meanwhile here is a video of the interior of an upside down house in Poland, its business man owner apparently built it as  his personal take on modern values. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1CrLXEE_y_Y



Hobbit Home by Peter Archer (for private client)


Dear Folly Fanciers

I only just came across this, although it was built 4 or 5 years ago, but I just had to share it with you. It is a miniature Hobbit Home built to house a Tolkien collector’s Collection and was designed by architect Peter Archer based on information from the Tolkien novels. Even the site was carefully selected, it is built into an 18th century dry stone wall which runs through the owner’s property.



There is enormous attention to detail, for example the 3inch thick circular front door (although there is another more conventional door around the back). And  there is also a circular “butterfly” window, so-called because the centre hinged panes look like an insect’s wings when open.




Read more about it at




The original Bag End cottage built for the films, has been reconstructed  at the home of director Peter Jackson in New Zealand, where it is used as guest accommodation.