Remembering the Awhatukee House of the Future, a "shining home of dreams" that became a $3 tourist trap

In 1979, construction concluded on the Awhatukee House of the Future, a $1.2m model home in the new Phoenix suburb of Ahwatukee Village, co-built with input from Frank Lloyd Wright's Taliesin Associated Architects and equipped with 10 networked Motorola processors that retailed for $30,000.

The Awhatukee house was ambitious in both its architecture and automation, partially buried to adapt to the Phoenix climate, and striking in its exterior (The Haunted Closet says it "looks something like the star-child offspring of a mid-century modern church and an inter-dimensional spacecraft" -- it even had a conversation pit!

The systems were very impressive too, beginning with passive solar water-heating but extending to "Tuke" (short for Awhatukee), the automation system that could actuate windows, doors and blinds, and optimize temperature by analyzing energy use. Terminals in the main rooms allowed access to local messages and recipes, and could fetch banking information from your bank.

Tuke used a voice synth that made it sound like Wargames's WOPR, and could recite jokes and nursery rhymes.

The house was filled with CCTVs and motion sensors and had a keyless entry system controlled by a numeric keypad.

No one bought the house, though. From 1980-1984, it was a $3 tourist attraction, with 250,000 visitors over the years -- it finally sold and became a private residence in 1984.

The Haunted Closet has fantastic photos and backstory on the Awhatukee House, including details of its appearance on the TV show "That's Incredible."

It was conceived as a "shining home of dreams", an "experimental living laboratory and testing ground", a "magnificent prism of Man's dreams" where the ideas of tomorrow are experienced today.

In practice, it ended up being a three dollar tourist attraction.

Completed in 1979 for a cost of $1,200,000, the Ahwatukee House of the Future was the brainchild of real-estate developer and Ahwatukee village founder Randall Presley.

Conceived as an attraction to generate interest in the relatively new Phoenix, Arizona suburb, Presley approached the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation with an idea for an idealized futuristic home that would wow visitors while also maximizing efficiency in a harsh desert climate.

Awhatukee House of the Future (1980-1984) [The Haunted Closet]