LOTR Fans’ Fantastic Real-Life Hobbit House

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Now here’s a house that all you LOTR fans out there wouldn’t mind spending a few nights in. Or maybe, the rest of your lives. If you’ve been an admirer of the hobbits who inhabited Middle Earth in J.R.R. Tolkien’s fantasy world, this house is something you’ve got to see. The 600 sq.ft. dwelling was built by architect Peter Archer for his clients – a Chester County couple with grown kids. Lifelong fans of J.R.R. Tolkien, they wanted the house as a worthy shrine for the rare books and Tolkien-inspired memorabilia collected over a period of 30 years of travel in the U.S. and abroad. The stone cottage is tucked away into the Pennsylvania countryside, a picturesque location befitting the hobbit-style house.

Before he took up the project, Archer wasn’t too well versed with the nature of Tolkien’s works, but he caught on rather quickly. “Upon starting the project I read the book The Hobbit and watched the Lord of the Rings movies, but more importantly, looked at the range of writings by Tolkien, including amazing sketches he had done to illustrate his work,” Archer says. “I remember at the start saying that we would be happy to design the structure but we were not going to do a Hollywood interpretation. We wanted it to be timeless. It was built in 2004 but looking at it, you could think it was from 1904 or 1604.” Working closely with another Pennsylvania architect Mark Avellino, he was able to “interpret Tolkien and create the beautiful details that make this such a special building.” He also credits the host of builders and landscape artists who put in every effort possible into the making of what has come to be known as the ‘Hobbit House’.

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Dutch Artist Spends 20 Years Building Life-Size Replica of Noah’s Ark

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Inspired by Noah’s Ark from the Book of Genesis, Dutch artist Johan Huibers built a modern day replica spending a whopping $1.2 million on it. His reasons for building the vessel  – he feared the effects global warming would someday have on his country, flooding included. The idea came to him in 1992, when he had a dream about his native land submerged in a flood similar to the one in the Book of Genesis. He continued to think about it until he finally did something about it. And the result is a 130m long, 29m wide, 23m high ark that he completed in 2005. Weighing almost 3000 tons and built from Swedish pine reinforced with steel, it is quite hard to believe that ark might be seaworthy at all, but this modern-day Noah assures us it does indeed float.

A carpenter by profession, Johan Huibers has now opened his full scale ark to the public and is attracting thousands of tourists from the world over. Located in Dordrecht, the Netherlands, the ark is something that would even surprise Noah, for it has a restaurant, two cinemas and of course, a menagerie of life-sized plastic animals. Towering over the flat Dutch landscape, the ark is easily visible from a nearby highway. Across the arks main hold is a huge space of stalls, where visitors can view a large collection of stuffed and plastic animals like zebras, gorillas, lions, tigers, bears and buffaloes. There’s also a petting zoo, where less dangerous real-life animals like dogs, sheep, rabbits, ponies and a few exotic birds are housed . On each level of the boat, around its edges, are displays about the history and dress of the ancient Middle East, a few scenes from the life of Noah, and games for kids like water pumps and levers that lift bales of hay. But the ark is not just about tourist attractions. Down below, there exists a honeycomb system of hatches, each opening an area where food could be sealed in for long-term storage. The curvature of the upper deck could be used to collect rainwater and also to let the horses and other animals get some exercise. Huibers says that his boat gives people a pretty good idea of how Noah’s ark would have worked in practice.

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$100,000 Luxury Tree House Is as Comfortable as a 5-Star Hotel

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Britain’s most luxurious tree house belongs to builder Chris Whalley. The incredible abode that he unveiled just last week took him over seven months and £60,000 ($98,000) to build. Located in Blean, Kent, Whalley’s tree house is made almost entirely out of driftwood that he gathered from a nearby beach and is meant to be his holiday home. What’s most unique about the house itself is that it comes with all the comforts a five-star hotel has to offer, including plumbing, electricity and even a rustic décor that goes very well with the natural surroundings.

I must say that I’ve fallen in love with this quaint little house, just looking at the pictures of the interiors. There’s something so charming about the place that it reminds me of the Beatrix Potter books I read as a child; of course, with some modern conveniences as well. The beds are covered with the finest Egyptian cotton linen, and the bathrobes and towels are from Waters and Noble. The kitchen crockery is also top of the range. Some of the pieces of luxury furniture in the house are well worth over £1,500. Everything inside the house is one-of-a-kind, including the concrete-wood effect kitchen worktop and the tree trunk sink. As if all this wasn’t good enough, Whalley’s house even comes with an elevated hot tub, for the ultimate experience in luxury. The entire construction rests 20ft above the ground on a 25 ft red cedar tree, making it not only the most deluxe habitable tree house in England, but also the highest. It is located among other holiday log cabins that Whalley built six years ago. Naturally, the view from the house is brilliant.

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Serafin Villarán, the Man Who Built His Own Castle

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Located in Cebolleros, a small community in the province of Burgos, northern Spain, Castillo de las Cuevas, or Castle of Caves, is the result of one man’s ambition and determination. Serafin Villarán dreamed of having his very own castle, and he single-handedly turn his dream into a reality.

Born in 1935, in the town of Burgos, Serafin was a simple man, working as a welder in a local factory. He didn’t have much experience in construction, until that day in 1977 when he got the idea to build himself a fairy-tale castle. He was 42 years old, yet he decided to follow his dream of create a castle-shaped home for him and his family. He bought a piece of land, and without any real architectural knowledge began working on his masterpiece. He mainly used rounded stones which he collected from the nearby rivers Nela and Trueba, and fixed them together with concrete to give his Castillo de las Cuevas an authentic look. Construction began without a preconceived plan, and according to his family he relied only on his imagination and books on Spanish castles as inspiration.

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Man Builds UFO House to Prove His Ex-Girlfriend Wrong

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Thinking of going to Roswell in the hopes of spotting a UFO? Don’t bother, just head out to the southern coast of Puerto Rico where you’re guaranteed to see one. It may not be able to fly, but it’s bizarre shape and colorful decorations make it quite a sight.

58-year-old Roberto Sanchez Rivera has been planning his unique UFO house for about 40 years. In a perfect world, I’d be saying his inspiration for the project was love, but this is the real world and Roberto’s true motivation was sweet revenge. In his youth years, when he was just a dreamy, artistic student from a poor family, he courted a girl by sending her love notes decorated with drawings of UFOs, and telling her he would one day build a UFO-shaped house. Not the usual pick-up lines, that’s for sure, but he eventually made her his girlfriend, if only for just three months. After she broke off their relationship, the girl’s mother told Rivera it was because she thought he would never amount to anything in life. Rather than crying his heart out, drowning his sorrow in booze or burying himself in work, the man started plotting his revenge. The truth is he was so devastated that he even contemplated suicide, but then he said “No, I’m going to show her, this person, I’m going to work that much harder to show her who I am.”

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German Couple Build Fairy Tale Castle in Their Backyard

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Heinz and Hildegard Schönewolf, from Dudweiler, Germany, have spent the last 37 years building a 350 square-foot fairy tale castle, right in their own backyard.

It’s amazing the kind of things people create in their backyards. Just a few days ago we posted about the stunning Four Seasons Garden, and the impressive replica of the Golden Gate Bridge built by Larry Richardson, and let’s not forget the backyard Titanic we featured a while back. Today, I found some photos of a colorful castle like the one you usually see in children’s fairy tale books, and learned it was actually built by a retired bricklayer, right in his own backyard, in the German town of Dudweiler. The 76-year-old castle enthusiast spent 37 years building his masterpiece out of stones, bricks and thousands of bags of cement.

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Man Turns 727 Passenger Plane into His Woodland Dream Home

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Bruce Campbell, a 62-year-old self-confessed nerd from Oregon, USA, has spent the last 10 years converting a 727-200 passenger jet into his dream home.

We’ve seen airplanes converted into living space before, like the 747 jumbo jet hostel in Stockholm, or the Boeing 707 plane hotel of Costa Rica, but Bruce Campbell’s work is the most impressive we’ve ever seen, because he did it all by himself.  The Building Services & Environmental Engineer bought the old 727-200 plane for $100,000 and spent at least another $100,000 on logistics costs like having it moved from the airport to his home, and temporarily removing the wings and tail. On AirplaneHome.com, the website dedicated to his ambitious project, Campell says planes like his aren’t that expensive nowadays, and costs can be significantly lowered if you work on the project during the summer, instead of a La Nina hurricane winter, like he did.

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Poor Carpenter Builds Awesome Tree House with Materials Found on Craiglist

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Joel Allen completed his amazing tree house on Whistler Mountain, in Western Canada, two years ago, but chose to keep it a secret for fear it would be torn down. Now, his secret’s out and the Hemloft has become one of the most talked-about architectural wonders on the Internet.

Hemloft, named after the hemlock tree supporting it, is definitely one of the most charming tree houses I have ever seen, but it’s actually the story behind it that’s most fascinating. Its creator, Joel Allen, was 26 when he decided to quit his job as a software developer and pursue a get-rich quick scheme. That didn’t exactly work out the way he planned, and he soon found himself strapped for cash. Joel found his calling as a carpenter, and one day got the brilliant idea of using his new-found talent to build a wooden tree house on Whistler Mountain, right in the middle of one of the world’s most expensive housing markets. He didn’t have the money for it, but that didn’t mean it couldn’t be done.

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21st-Century Cavemen – 30 Million Chinese Live in Caves

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This title might seem a bit shocking, but considering China’s total population, 30 million really isn’t very much. Still, millions of people living in caves in this modern era is kind of strange, wouldn’t you say?

According to a report by The Los Angeles Times, millions of Chinese people have gone underground, to live in caves. So I guess calling someone a caveman in China really shouldn’t be taken as an insult, especially if you consider many of these burrowed dwellings have all the facilities of modern homes. Because they take advantage of the existing landscape, China’s cave houses don’t require too many other building materials, and since the hills and mountains they are dug into act as natural insulation all year round, they are more energy efficient than most conventional family homes.

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Size Doesn’t Matter – Man Builds $200 Tiny Eco-Homes from Ordinary Household Junk

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A tiny house doesn’t necessarily have to be shabby. And a stylish one doesn’t really have to cost a lot of money. Proving these points is carpenter Derek Diedricksen, who makes small wooden dwellings out of junk at $200 apiece. They look nothing like junk, though. The decorative detailing in these houses make them pretty interesting places to live in.

The largest structure made by 33-year-old Derek is Gypsy Junker – 24 square feet in size and 5ft 10 inches high. The smallest one is just 4ft tall. But then the interiors of these houses are so pretty that anyone would be interested to spend at least one night in them. Everyday junk is used in the building process, like the glass from the front of a washing machine that becomes a porthole-like window and a sheet of metal is used as a flipdown counter. Castoff storm windows, shipping pallets and discarded cabinets are used as well. Stained glass windows and the likes are used for that decorative touch. Some of the houses built by Derek are also portable, ranging from 4 to 24 square feet in size.

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Shattering Nerdiness at Canada’s Spaghetti Bridge Building Competition

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So what if geeks can’t lift heavy weights? They sure can build bridges to do their lifting for them. And that’s exactly what Peter Sandor of Hungary has done. He built a 967 gram bridge made of spaghetti that was able to hold a whopping 384.06 kg, before it shattered into pieces.

The bridge was made for Okanagan College’s 29th annual Spaghetti Bridge Contest, in Kelowna, Canada, as a part of Engineering Week. Contestants from around the world brought in structures made of spaghetti to be tested by pressure added in increments. The bridge that held the maximum weight before it broke was declared the winner. Sandor, a student of engineering at the College of Nyiregyhaza, in Hungary, was awarded the ‘heavyweight champion’ title, hands-down. The pasta-engineering efforts of this 23-year-old bright young student won him $1500.

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Woman Commissions 9-Foot-Tall Harry Potter Cat House

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A Harry Potter fan from Houston, Texas asked a local woodworker to build her a 9-foot-tall cat house inspired by The Burrow, the Weasley family’s famous home.

Laura Marshall is a big fan of Harry Potter and three months ago she got this crazy idea of building a a real-life Burrow for her cats, right in the backyard. Since she didn’t have the skill and experience to pull off such a tricky job herself, she asked Wil Whitehouse of Whitehouse Wood Works to make it for her. She brought him a series of photos from the Internet for reference and the skillful wodworker got to work. Although in a normal construction setting he would cut all his studs the same size and try to keep everything level, he tried to give this model of The Burrow that out of square and out of level look by cutting pieces at different lengths. He got the fact that the house in the movie was held up by magic and waterd to capture that feel.

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Russian Couple Build Their Own Fairy Tale Castle

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A retired couple from the suburbs of Artyom, Russia have worked for 16 years transforming an ordinary house into a fairy tale castle, using only junk materials found on the street and at a local landfill.

They might be pensioners, but Alexey and Valentina Krivov don’t consider themselves too old for fairy tales. They didn’t want to grow old in their grey house and since they couldn’t afford to buy a castle of their own, they decided to build their own castle fit for a prince and princess. Alexey worked in constructions for most of his life and this gave him the chance to be a foreman for his own personal project, and Valentina had experience as a decorator and plasterer, so they figured out most of the details themselves. They started work on their architectural wonder in 1995, salvaging whatever materials they needed from the streets and the nearby construction landfill. As the castle started taking shape, their neighbors started noticing it and became eager to help the Krivovs in whatever way they could.

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Chinese Pharmaceutical Factory Looks More Like the Palace of Versailles

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This is what you’d expect to see in the lavish Palace of Versailles built by Louis the XIVth, but it’s actually the inside of a pharmaceutical company in Harbin, northeast China.

Citizens of Harbin were outraged to see what the state-controlled Harbin Pharmaceutical Group spent their funding on rather than solving more pressing issues, like the factory’s sewage problems, but representatives of the company said the recently emerged photos are part of a smear campaign. They claim the photos show the museum, which takes up three floors in the same building as the factory, where the company showcases local art. Now I’m not an expert on Chinese art, but those gold-tinted walls and lavish chandeliers look pretty European, and some of those rooms look an awful lot like conference halls…In fact, photos of the museum on the company’s website showed white-painted walls, brown wooden floors and none of the opulence in the photos.

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Chinese Couple Convert Cargo Truck into Mobile Home

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Unable to buy a real house, a young couple in Kunming, China, have opted to convert a small cargo truck into a comfy mobile home.

It’s hard to imagine someone living comfortably in the back of a truck, but the high housing prices in China have forced young people to be resourceful and find all kinds of original alternatives. Last year, a young Chinese student from Beijing built himself a sustainable egg-house from bamboo and insulating materials, and now a young couple have turned a cargo truck into an 8.5-square-meter living space.

It’s not the spaciest home ever built, but it features just about everything anyone needs to live a decent life, including a small kitchen with a sink and electric stove, bunk-beds, refrigerator, flat screen TV and even a computer. The only thing that isn’t shown in the photos is also one of the most important – the toilet, but, even if they haven’t improvised one on their truck, I’m sure they have some way of dealing with personal hygiene.

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