Archive for the ‘Folly-esque’ Category

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.

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A Low Impact Woodland Home - Simon Dale (14)



A Low Impact Woodland Home - Simon Dale (2)

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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


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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.




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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. 

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Just put up for sale is a very modern prehistoric monument. Carhenge in Nebraska, according to a recent report by Reuters. In the shape of Stonehenge in England, this one is a tribute to the automobile.

Carhenge near Alliance in Western Nebraska contains 38 vintage automobiles and can be yours for just $300,000.

The Carhenge autos mimic the Stonehenge stones in size, dimension and northeast orientation to the sunrise. The attraction consists of 38 gray-painted autos in a 96-foot circle. Some are buried five feet deep, trunk end down. Some jut from the ground at odd angles. Nine vehicles welded atop some of the half-buried autos form the arches.

Vehicles include a 1943 Plymouth Savoy, 1945 Jeep Willys, 1956 Buick Roadmaster Deluxe, 1957 Cadillac Eldorado, 1965 Ford Thunderbird, 1971 Chevrolet Nova, and a 1976 American Motors Gremlin.

A 1962 Cadillac depicts the Stonehenge heel stone, which is outside the main entrance and leans inward toward the circle.

Carhenge was built by Jim Reinders in 1987 as a tribute to his late father, who farmed the site two miles north of Alliance, a city of 8,600 people on the western Nebraska plains.

Reinders worked in England for a time and visited Stonehenge. More than 80,000 tourists from around the world have visited the site annually. It is a stop for tour buses and some visitors come before dawn to experience the sunrise. Admission to the 10-acre grounds is free.



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A new folly in London popped up, literally, in London, this summer, under a freeway flyover.   Originally planned to last for six weeks from June 2011, Folly for a Flyover  under a busy freeway junction in North London,  turned out to be so popular that its life was extended to the end of August and it  won the Bank of America Merrill-Lynch 2011  Create Art Award.

And here it is.

Folly for a  Flyover was built in under four weeks, at a cost of  £20,000. The location was pretty unprepossessing  –  under two concrete road bridges, carrying the eastbound and westbound A12  traffic in London over the  Hackney Cut. This is a man-made addition to the River Lea which flows nearby. The location is in  Hackney Wick, east London, a dreary urban wasterland on the northern fringe of the 2012 Olympic site.  It was designed as a temporary structure, a “pop-up” folly with a life expectancy of six weeks as a venue for films, concerts, boat rides and cheap coffee.

The folly was conceived by the same group of architecture students and others, now calling themselves Assemble,  who created last year’s Cineroleum, a cinema temporarily made out of a disused petrol station.

The structure consisted of a sloping bank of seats for watching films and events, which then turned to form a café in the shape of a house. The house resembled something out of a child’s drawing or a fairytale, standing improbably in the forgotten concrete world beneath the flyover. The structure was scaffolding holding up some wobbly-looking bricks, which turn out to be made of reclaimed timber – oak, pine, yellowish opepe and reddish jarrah from railway sleepers. Each of the 10,000 bricks has been sawn from longer lengths by volunteers, and drilled with holes so they could be strung together by wires. The wall was in fact not masonry, but woven, and its elements can be reused.

One critic commented admiringly: ” The place is powerful, under the roads, with Piranesian columns, the water of the Hackney Cut and a slot of clear air, like an elongated oculus, between the two Roman-scaled bridges. Usually, it is also desolate and possibly scary, but by putting stuff and events there with a certain wit and spirit, Assemble have revealed its weird beauty. By having daytime events, boat rides and a cheap café, the Folly is also reaching a wider catchment than the largely twentysomething crowd who patronised Cineroleum.”

Here is a link to its website: http://www.follyforaflyover where you can find more images and what they got up to there.

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Visit wondrous and curious places on Obscura Day – 9 April 2011. Lots of unusual,hidden and intriguing places to visit worldwide. Check it out at http://obscuraday.com

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Sanio strawberry house denenchofu Tokyo Japan


This strawberry house is apparently a shop in Tokyo selling Hello Kitty artefacts. Not our favourite brand of kitsch  – and we LOVE kitsch – but the shop deserves a place here just because it’s so cute.

Plus of course strawberries remind us of summer.

Strawberry House
2-49-2 Denenchofu Ohta-ku Tokyo (google map)

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OK so they’re not really follies. But there is something very endearing about those giant artificial creatures  which turn up from time to time to enhance our public spaces. And they are after all, quite useless. Here are a few I have come across, to make you smile.


Giant Creatures


This  big fish was on Donegal Quay, Belfast North Ireland.big fish donegall quay belfast aubrey dale geograph          


The largest mascot in Canada is Drumheller’s T-Rex. Four times the size of a real Tyrannosaurus Rex, it weighs 145,000 pounds, stands 86 feet tall and is 151 feet long.


dinosaur-mascot-drumheller vew platfrom in teeth


Iggy the giant iguana has had an interesting life.  In the 1980s he lived on the roof of the Lone Star cafe in New York. Here the 40 foot monster, newly spruced up, is being lowered into his new home on the roof of the reptile house at Forth Worth Zoo, Texas in 2010.




This 7.5 metre high mosaic sculpture, marks the entrance to the town of Erith in South East London, England.

The design was inspired by the old town coat of arms which was adopted from the family arms of the powerful Richard de Luci, supporter of King Stephen, and owner of Erith during the reign of Stephen and Henry II.

It has disconcerted some motorists who stop to gawp and has been run over at least once.


erith fish


Finally this giant puppy sculpted from flowers was located in Bilbao.

It was designed by Jeff Koons, the celebrated pop artist.



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It’s like London buses used to be, none around for ages when you want one and then several come along together. So it is with follies and fantasy buildings. Two in a single day today.

Here is our second treasure of the day – the Chongwe River House in Zambia on the banks of the Chongwe River.  Strictly speaking it isn’t a folly as it is a working building, a luxury safari lodge, but I defy anyone to look at the image above and say it doesn’t fulfil many of the fantasy elements of the best follies.

If you want to stay there, it has four bedrooms, waterfall showers and open air bathrooms and a range of wild life watching options, including hippo spotting on the river, exploring the Lower Zambezi National Park (with your own private guide and armed ranger or hanging out in the lodge’s pool and elephant spotting on the lawns. Not your bargain basement stuff more a dream like fantasy.

More information at Chongwe Lodge website

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NY cabin01-popup


We take a very liberal view about what makes a modern folly here at the Folly Fancier. If turning the interior of your New York apartment into a fake log cabin is the nearest you can get to realising your own personal fantasy, why not?

And that is just what New Yorker Rob Schleifer has done in a one room fifth floor walk up near 14th Street in Manhattan.

Mr Schliefer was interviewed recently by the NYT which also ran an interactive active photo spread of the apartment http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2010/02/22/nyregion/22cabin-panorama.html?ref=nyregion which is truly astonishing.

All of the interior and fixtures and fittings are painted brown or veneered or painted to look like wood and the apartment is filled with a truly extraordinary collection of objects. The bathroom steam pipe has been painted to resemble a tree, complete with curling serpent. If you have ever played one of those computer “hidden object” games you would be right at home although it might take months to identify everything hidden in this room. This is after all the result of 30 years compulsive collecting.

The apartment is stuffed with found treasures: a stuffed cat, a zither bought at auction for 45 cents. an ox yoke turned into lighting.,  a horse skull picked up in the woods in Florida, a World War II radiation detector,  handcuffs. brass knuckles, two sets.  

Collecting on this scale seems to be a chap sort of thing, and there is no Mrs Schleifer to complain about the clutter or the dust. Now however his landlord is buying him out and Mr Schleifer is moving on. Before he does look on his works and wonder. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/22/nyregion/22cabin.html

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