For a year, six people lived inside a small dome on the desolate side of a volcano on Mauna Loa, Hawaii. The aim of the Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation (HI-SEAS) was to approximate life on Mars (albeit with much more surface gravity). This week, the team stepped out of the dome and National Geographic's Nadia Drake took a tour:
Inside the 1,200-square-foot habitat, they dealt with a 20-minute communications delay, limited water supplies, and a few strict house rules. But as we saw on a recent tour, this habitat is the lap of luxury for Martian hopefuls. And if this two-story house were on the earthbound market, it would be a total steal, considering that room, board, and utilities are all free....
Itching for some entertainment? The living room has a bookshelf full of Russian language guides, DVDs, astronaut jigsaw puzzles, and board games, which are perfect for a wild night on the mountain with your five favorite roommates. There’s also a virtual reality setup where you can explore 30 different environments, in addition to creating your own personal getaway.
Finally, Wi-Fi is already installed. Although there’s that pesky 20-minute delay, you can send emails, texts, and video messages, completely Comcast-free.
"Take a Look Inside a House Meant for Mars" (Nat Geo)
photos above and below by Nadia Drake
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For $1.5 million, you can be the proud new owner of Westland, Michigan's Eloise Complex, a building that started in 1839 as a poorhouse and has served as a tuberculosis ward and insane asylum before closing in 1984. During the Great Depression, it had as many as 10,000 residents. Oh, did I mention that it's haunted?
The main five-story building is 150,000 square feet wile the site contains a 19th century fire station, decommissioned power plant, and two maintenance building. Bonus, it backs up to an eighteen hole championship golf course!
Here's the real estate listing.
"Own a former mental asylum" (MLive)
"Haunted Former Mental Asylum For Sale in Michigan" (Mysterious Universe)
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Jeff Wilson, a university professor in Austin, left his beautifully appointed dumpster this week. For a year, he lived in the 33-square-foot space, set in the school's parking lot. Read the rest
In a residential neighborhood in Raleigh, North Carolina, there's a house that looks like most every other house on the block. But it isn't a house. It's a public utility pump station perfectly camouflaged as a house. The inside is filled with massive industrial pumps chugging away. WUNC made a video documentary about the place. Apparently, this is a fairly common way to build electrical generators, pump stations, and other utility infrastructure in residential areas. That quiet house down the street from you? The one where nobody seems to live? Who knows what machinery resides inside… "What's Inside This House On Wade Avenue?" Read the rest
As a youngster, my dream was to live in a Futuro House, the UFO-like prefab homes designed by Matti Surronen and available for purchase new in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Only 100 or so were built around the world but quite a few survive to this day, in varying states of decay. In the video above, urban explorer The Unknown Cameraman visits Futuro Houses in New Jersey. You can also see many more photos of these otherworldly abodes at Cult of Weird. Read the rest
Researchers at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory are studying how the seemingly innocuous things we do in our homes and offices can have big impacts on our health. One of those things is cooking, because the way we cook can affect the air we breathe. Scientists are trying to figure out how to make houses safer, but to do that, they need to understand how
people use houses — what we cook in them and how we cook it. You can help by taking this quick, anonymous survey
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Last weekend, I visited St. Louis and got to catch up with some friends who live in an old brick house in that city's South Grand/Tower Grove neighborhood. (Which is awesome, by the way. After hearing nothing but bad news about St. Louis for years, I was pleasantly surprised by great, thriving neighborhoods like this one.)
There's a little porch off one of the upstairs windows, facing the street. But, at first, it's not entirely clear how you get out onto it. But, whoever built this old house had a clever trick up their sleeve — and it's one I'd never seen in action before. That's a picture of the closed window above. Read the rest
Ciaran Brennan painted the exterior of his home with a delightfully surrealist trompe l'oeil. "boptical illusion" (via) Read the rest
Lloyd Kahn is the editor-in-chief of Shelter Publications. His latest book is Tiny Homes: Scaling Back in the 21st Century.
Avi Solomon: What do you see in your childhood that pointed you onto the path that your life took?
Lloyd Kahn: When I was a kid I had a little workbench with holes in it, and the holes were square or round or triangular. And you had to pick the right little piece of wood block and hammer it in with a little wooden hammer. And so I'd hammer with it, put the round dowel into the round hole, and hammer it through. And then maybe the most formative thing was when I was twelve - I helped my dad build a house. It had a concrete slab floor, and concrete block walls. And my job was shoveling sand and gravel and cement into the concrete mixer for quite a while. We'd go up there and work on weekends. One day we got the walls all finished, and we were putting a roof on the carport, and I got to go up on the roof. They gave me a canvas carpenter's belt, a hammer and nails, and I got to nail down the 1" sheeting. And I still remember that, kneeling on the roof nailing, the smell of wood on a sunny day. And then I worked as a carpenter when I was in college, on the docks. I just always loved doing stuff with my hands. Read the rest