Unusual homes around the world

Private Property South Africa
Lea Jacobs

People, it seems, are willing to convert and live in just about any structure these days. Here we take a look at a few of the more zany places some like to call home.

It's been estimated that five country houses (the type portrayed in the television show Downton Abbey) were being demolished every week in the 1950s. Basically the lords and the ladies of the manor could no longer afford to maintain their enormous homes and no one had the slightest interest in saving these architectural masterpieces. According to reports, 1 200 have been razed to the ground since 1900. Fortunately, by the time the 1960s came along, historians had come to realise that an important part of the UK’s culture was being destroyed and started putting systems in place to safeguard these historic buildings. Unfortunately, the tide only really turned in 1984 when the old and stately Calke Abbey was saved from demolition, indicating that public opinion favored preserving the great homes Britain.

altTextCalke Abbey

Since then the British have become almost fanatical about saving their heritage and these days all sorts of properties built for alternative purposes have been transformed. Water mills, churches and old barns have been turned into homes. It doesn't stop there: water towers, old forts and even a WWII airport control tower have been converted into living space over the years and before you think that you would have to be pretty desperate to live in something like this - these properties all carry a hefty price tag.

It's not just the British who are keen to live in structures originally built for other purposes.

The most unusual conversion has to be that of former missile silos. Various developers have jumped on the bandwagon, converting these Cold War relics into luxury homes. The privilege of owning such a home comes at a cost of between US$1.5-million and US$3-million.

Situated at the Atlas F Missile Base in the U.S. and ideal for the more paranoid among us, the condos inside the silo feature, among other things 2.7m thick concrete walls, their own electricity and water supply and filtration systems that will clear the air in the event of a nuclear attack. The converted silos each have their own command centre, a digital weather station which provides information from the outside, a pool, spa and a general dealer. Each silo can house 70 people in full floor or half floor units.

altTextMissile silo home

WWII relics that have received a homely makeover are also available in Germany. Various bomb shelters have been converted into apartments and others are used for commercial and industrial purposes. However, one that was built to house 3000 people during air aids has been refurbished and is now both the owner’s home and their art gallery. What was once an 80 room structure still looks somewhat intimidating from the outside with its thick concrete walls and tiny windows, but the interior has been stylishly renovated and the penthouse features an indoor swimming pool and a rooftop garden.

Transforming a building designed for another use into a home is one thing, taking an object such as a plane and turning it into a residence is quite another, yet it has been done. A retired American engineer took his love for planes to new heights and converted a Boeing 727-200 into a home. It has to be said that judging by a video showing the interior, he didn't spend much remodeling the inside and the end result looks quite scruffy. He has, however, left the cockpit intact and appears to spend quality time playing with the now defunct radio system. He is also planning to expand and now has his sights set on acquiring and renovating a Boeing 747.

altText727 home conversion

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