Archive for the ‘Folly-esque’ Category

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In theory follies should be buildings without any practical use. In practice of course many can be used for sitting, admiring the view and enjoying a spot of liquid refreshment.

Taken to its logical extreme therefore (and what are follies if not extreme), why not design your refreshment room to resemble the refreshment you take there.

Hence our collection of cafes and restaurants built to resemble tea and coffee pots, from around the world. Here is a selection

Relax, put your feet up, have a cuppa and enjoy.


Worlds largest teapot in Chester, West Virginia , USA

shown before restoration (see current appearance above introduction)

teapot canoe livery beuna

Coffee pot used until recently for canoe hire and livery stables,

Beuna, Lexington Kentucky, USA


This coffee pot was in Bremen Indiana, USA now gone sadly


Petrol station tea pot in Zillah, Washington USA

This little gas station was built in 1922 by Jack Ainsworth as a commentary on the Teapot Dome scandal involving President Harding and a federal petroleum reserve in Wyoming. It is said to be the oldest gas station in use in the country. Read its unique history here.

It is no longer in use but some City of Zillah staff have formed a group called “Friends of the Teapot Association” and they are raising funds to relocate the structure closer to downtown and possibly convert it into a tourism information center. There, they say, “the Teapot could be watched and cared for in a way that respects the history and artistry for which it represents”.

blackpool 1930s

Mobile teapot refreshment van in Blackpool, UK in the 1930s

java jive teapot

This giant coffee pot is in Washington, USA

Information about this and similar building is on the roadsideamerica website where there are lots of similar goodies


Mystery entry. Anyone know where this giant coffee pot is?
<Thanks to Karen Kocik for letting us know this is a Teapot Museum at Meitan in China>

We are still looking for a wine bar or restaurant built to resemble a  decanter or a wine bottle. If you find one let us know 🙂

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 The Baobab Hotel, Huilo Huilo, Chile

Hotels in tree houses are not a new concept. But the latest addition to the genre certainly takes the form to new heights.

Parque Huilo Huilo is  a sprawling private nature reserve, midway between Neltume and Puerto Fuy, on the east side of Volcán Choshuenco (Choshuenco Volcano) in Chile.  The Magic Mountain Hotel and the Baobab Hotel, in the parque were built by the same owners. 

The Baobab is the newer of the two  and built, as it name suggests, to resemble a baobob tree.

baob hotel fountain

Lobby with fountain

 Hotel Baobab Huilo Huilo Chile 3*

This beautiful Lodge  opened in December 2007 and belongs to the same owners as the Montaña Mágica.  The hotel resembles a baobab (monkey bread tree), which is quite high and their trunk is slender and gets broader the more you get up. The 55 modern rooms with magnificent views of the Mocho-Choschuenco Volcano are ordered spirally around an atrium, in which a huge tree is growing. The surrounding trees weren’t cut for this construction, but included into the architecture.

All the styling and decor is inspired by the natural surroundings and crafted by indigenous artists designing in wood from the area. Windows, walls, doors and stairs are all carved out of the local rustic woods. All rooms have private bathrooms and central heating as standard and penthouse suites offer the added luxury of hydro massage bath. An impressive panoramic elevator offers a magnificent view when visiting the nine floors of Baobab lodge. There are two restaurants offering gastronomic menus, and there is an international bar. exquisite gastronomical delights and an important international bar. Baobab is an ideal place to relax in a quiet natural setting.


View from a bedroom window

The hotel is nestled in the National Reserve of Huilo Huilo, in the Region of The Rivers, a park of 12.000  about 56 km / 35 miles from Panguipulli, just next to the Lodge Montaña Mágica. Prices: 01.04.2008-30.04.2009 Standard single 132 USD double 187 USD Triple 265 USD extra bed 52 USD booking service at Inns of Chile

Footnote: I have no connection with the owners of the Baobab and Magic Mountain hotels, but if they ever wished to invite me to make a more detailed report on site for you, I could be ready to travel at 24 hours notice!

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bottle-2 bottle-detail

Monks in Thailand have built a temple complex from over 1 million recycled beer bottles. Above is the temple and a detail from the roof.


Wat Pa Maha Chedi Kaew, also known as Wat Lan Kuad or ‘the Temple of a Million Bottles’, is in Sisaket province near the Cambodian border, 400 miles from the capital Bangkok.

The Buddhist monks began collecting beer bottles in 1984 and they collected so many that they decided to use them as a building material. They encouraged the local authorities to send them more and they have now created a complex of around 20 buildings using the beer bottles, comprising the main temple over a lake, crematorium, prayer rooms, a hall, water tower, tourist bathrooms and several small bungalows raised off the ground which serve as monks quarters.


A concrete core is used to strengthen the building and the green bottles are Heineken and the brown ones are the Thai beer Chang. The bottles do not lose their colour, provide good lighting and are easy to clean, the men say. The monks are so eco-friendly that the mosaics of Buddha are created with recycled beer bottle caps.

Altogether there are about 1.5 million recycled bottles in the temple, and the monks at the temple are intending to reuse even more. Abbot San Kataboonyo said: “The more bottles we get, the more buildings we make.”

The beer bottle temple is now on an approved list of eco-friendly sight-seeing tours in southeast Asia.

For more information go to http://www.treehugger.com/files/2008/10/temple-built-from-beer-bottles.php

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The Hang Nga Hotel in Vietnam

This offbeat hotel in Dalat in Vietnam goes by various names, among them The Spider Web Chalet, the Hang Nga Tree House and the Crazy House, depending on who you ask.

It is in fact a hotel, designed by Dang Viet Na, a former model and daughter of Truong Chinh, the former resident of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. She designed the hotel so that guests could imagine they were staying in a fantasy world. Being the former president’s daughter clearly helped Dang Viet Na, who studied architecture in Moscow, get permission to build her fantasy hotel.

Its official name is the Hang Nga Tree House, Hang Nga was a moon fairy. Features include an Ant Room, a Honeymoon room reached by a minute bamboo staircase and spiders web made out of string waiting to catch the unwary. 

Crazy_House_09 courtyard

You can find more images here Travelogues site with photos of The Crazy Hotel in Dalat, Vietnam

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Park in a Skip









The young London based artist Oliver Bishop-Young has had the brilliant idea of creating mini landscapes in that most prosaic of urban artefacts, the builder’s skip. Seen here is one of his most popular and successful designs, a park in a skip, featuring a park bench and a tree.

Other of Olly’s designs have included a water garden in a skip, a skateboard park in a skip, a swimming pool in a skip and a sitting room in a skip. You can find out more about Olly and his work at his web site www.oliverbishopyoung.co.uk  email:olly@oliverbishopyoung.co.uk

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The Dutch House, Rayleigh, Essex

The thatched octagonal Dutch Cottage in Rayleigh, Essex, is thought to have been built in 1621 by immigrant settlers who helped drain the land. Since 2005 it has stood empty after pensioners Ann and Derek Jolly upped sticks and left after 20 “happy years”.

Despite resembling a doll’s house, the octagonal seventeenth century home – which measures just 20ft across – has all the mod cons, including a fully fitted kitchen and shower room. The listed home, in Crown Hill, Rayleigh, is thought to be one of only a handful of Dutch Cottages left in the UK – and the only one used as a council house.It is also the only house still owned by Rochford Council after it transferred its stock to a housing association.

Tamara Burton, a spokeswoman for Rochford Council, said the house, which has already generated a lot of interest, is not restricted only to people on the housing register or waiting list and can be rented for just £75 a week.

But whoever is lucky enough to get their hands on the listed property will not be in for a quiet life – because a condition of the tenancy means the new dweller will have to show tourists around the historic abode.

Inside it is surprisingly spacious with the open-plan living space set around a central construction of the chimney.The kitchen is at the back of the cottage and there is also a shower room. The bedroom is accessed by a steep stair case and, at a squeeze, it could fit a double bed inside.

Former resident Mrs Jolly, 71, who moved out of the house with husband Derek in 2005, said it was a privilege to live in there.She said: “We loved it because we felt very close to Rayleigh’s history.

“We were talking about it all the time and we were conscious it was a privilege to be looking after one of Rayleigh’s monuments and having something beautiful to look after.” 

The cottage was given to Rayleigh Urban Council in 1964 by its owner and has remained in trust ever since.A plate above the door is inscribed 1621 but surveyors, architects and historians who have studied the cottage say it could have actually been built as late as 1740.

Tours of the cottage would be made by prior arrangement, Mrs Burton said. It is opposite the King Canute Public House. Essex. TQ8090 : The Dutch Cottage, Rayleigh


dutch cottage canvey island

The Dutch House, Canvey Island, Essex 

There is another similar cottage on Canvey Island in Essex. TQ7783 : Dutch Cottage Museum, Canvey Island

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Shed on top of Whistler Mountain in Canada

image by hyperfocusing.jpg

This shed, perched precariously on a ridge on Whistler Mountain, in British Columbia in Canada recently caught our eye. More information has been hard to find. If anyone knows anything about who built it and how it got there, indeed why it has been put there, please let us know.

Folly Fancier

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Okinawa tree house at entrance to Onoyama Park

Okinawa Tree House restaurant (Photo credit: Flickr)

Purely decorative follies do not spring up like trees, so here is a functional folly which has done just that – the Okinawa treehouse which is poised in a banyan tree (or maybe it is a gajumaru tree). Whatever. The tree is in fact  concrete.

Back in the late nineteenth century the French were making trees out of cement and a good example of has survived at Oakworth Park in Yorkshire. But I have not seen such a bizarre and impressive modern version as this before.

This treehouse is a restaurant, serving Asian food. It is located on Highway 58 at the entrance to Onoyama Park in southern Japan where it overlooks the ocean. Visitors ascend via a lift inside the trunk.

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Sealed with a (Marmite) Kiss

7 foot replica of The Kiss unveiled in Greenwich park on valentines day sculptor Jeremy Frattorini

There is a shortage of follies to report here at present so I thought we might look at some folly-esque public art. Follies are not to everyone’s taste  –  so what could be more of an acquired taste than a Marmite statue?

Following on the success of last year’s Guinness flavoured Marmite, the company brought out a limited edition “I Love You” Champagne flavoured Marmite for Valentine’s day on February 14th 2008.

To publicise it the manufacturers commissioned sculptor, Jeremy Fattorini to recreate Rodin’s celebrated sculpture, ‘The Kiss’, in Marmite. The work was ‘unveiled’ in London’s Greenwich Park.

Fattorini took nearly two and a half weeks to sculpt the 7ft replica statue which was coated in 420 jars of Limited Edition ‘I Love You’ Champagne Marmite. The artist said: “It will be interesting to see if this gains more popularity than the statue at St Pancras. I’m sure that Marmite will once again polarize the nation – you’ll either love it or hate it. It’s a good thing I like the stuff, as I was licking my fingers as I created it!”

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Shed-tower-folly by Jayne Tarasun, 2007

What better way to start 2008 than with a new folly design by a new folly builder, the self styled folly-smith, Jayne Tarasun of Cornwall? 

Artist Jayne has brought the concept of the folly tower into the 21st century, reviving this unique and celebrated slice of British eccentricity and fusing it with contemporary design principals and traditional, sustainable materials. Using cedar, oak, copper and glass, each structure is a tower of tranquillity, designed to engage the senses, enliven the spirit and offer a platform from which we can establish a reconnection between our landscape, our skyscape and ourselves.

Each folly follows a particular design, 5ft square by 10ft high, and has a mezzanine level where owners can sit and relax and read or just look out of the window into the branches of a neighbouring tree.

  • Materials include chestnut frame, cedar shingles, copper roof and laminated safety glass in French doors and windows
  • Design includes secure 5 lever locked front door, ladder to mezzanine-level platform. Fully lined and insulated
  • Planning permission not usually required

Design templates can be adapted to individual requirements. Price on application, includes initial site visit (to assess positioning), delivery and erection. A bespoke design service is also available for function and site specific space.

But what to call it – I suggest a she-tower – a combination of shed and tower -which also reflects the female identity of its designer.

About Jayne: After starting her career in furniture making, constructing bespoke commissions, Jayne Tarasun went on to study Fine Art at Cheltenham College of Art, where she specialized in printmaking. In 1995 she won the Gane Travel Scholarship, which allowed her to study in Barcelona. Jayne has exhibited extensively throughout the UK and she currently works from her studio in Cornwall.

In 2006, Jayne embarked on an MA course in design at UCF, where the seeds of her Folly business were starting to germinate. One year later she decided to focus her energy into `Folly-Smith’ designing, manufacturing and exhibiting her first prototype in Autumn 2007. This has been viewed by thousands of people and is on display at the Trevarno Gardens in Cornwall.

Jayne also designs bespoke, site specific follies tailored to her clients needs.

Contact details:

Jayne Tarasun, 2 Post Office Row, Gweek, Nr Helston, Cornwall TR12 6TU tel: 01326 221750 emailjayne@tarasun.co.uk


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