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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Build It and They Won’t Come – World’s Largest Shopping Mall Is 99% Empty

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The New South China Mall in Dongguan, China is the biggest in the world. With an area of over 7 million square feet that can accommodate 2,350 stores, and attractions such as roller coasters, ghost trains and a replica of the bell tower of St Mark’s Square in Venice, you would think the place would be swarming with people. So did the owners of the mall, who expected over 70,000 visitors a day when they started building it. But today it stands empty, with almost no customers entering its gates. The 553 meter indoor and outdoor roller coaster hasn’t been operated since it was installed and 99% of the shops have never been leased out. The only ones that do operate are a series of fast food joints at the entrance of the mall and another few shops inside the huge complex.

New South China Mall was built in 2005 by Hu Guirong, who made his millions making instant noodles. He started the project with great enthusiasm, sending teams all over the world in search of ideas for his dream mall. And most of these ideas were even translated into reality. Where else in the world would be able to see a gondola on a mock Venetian canal inside a mall? But then something went horribly wrong, because when the place was completed in 2005, it simply failed to take off. It wasn’t even a dead mall, where tenants simply depart and business winds down slowly. No, Guirong’s mall never attracted merchants in the first place, as they felt it wasn’t a realistic place to set up shop.

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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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Real-Life Flintstones House Can Be Yours for Just $3.5 Million

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Are you a die-hard fan of the Flintstones and have an extra $3.5 Million to spare? If the answer is yes, then you actually have the chance to live in a house styled in the theme of the popular cartoon. If not, well then you can just make do with looking at the pictures.

The house, located in Malibu, presently belongs to TV and Radio legend Dick Clark and his wife, but is up for sale and pretty fresh on the market. Apart from being the perfect place for a ‘Modern Stone-age Family’, there’s several other good things going for the house. For instance, the property has a 360 degree ocean and mountain view. Now, that’s probably a luxury that even Fred and Wilma wished they could enjoy. From the 23-acre estate’s glass windows, one can comfortably view the Pacific Ocean, Boney Mountains, Channel Islands, Serrano Valley and also Los Angeles. Sounds awesome, but that’s not all. The place is only minutes away from the beach, has a wine cellar, and the living and dining rooms have vaulted ceilings that open up the space. Surprisingly, there are only two bathrooms and one bedroom in the sprawling mansion. I suppose it is the ultimate place for a romantic getaway for two. Two Flintstones-lovers, that is.

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Billion Euro Home Is Made from Shredded Remains of 1.4 Billion Euros

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Unemployed Irish artist, Frank Buckley, has built an entire apartment from the shredded remains of 1.4 billion euros he borrowed from the national mint. He says the Billion Euro Home is a monument to the madness the single currency brought to Ireland.

In 2002, when Ireland adopted the euro, a wave of cheap credit flooded the country, fueling a huge property bubble that eventually led to the country’s economic downfall. People were spending billions of euros on buildings, but when the bubble burst in 2007, the country plunged into the deepest recession of the industrialized world, and those buildings quickly lost their value. Frank Buckley was one of the many Irish who was given a 100% mortgage by the bank, to buy a home with an estimated cost of €365,000, despite the fact he had no steady income. Now his house on the far reaches of Dublin’s commuter belt has lost a third of its value, and the artist is stuck with the credit.

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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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Woman Converts Old Caboose into Comfy Home

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When she bought a 1909 Soo Line caboose in 1975, Marcia Webber never thought she’d end up living in it full time, but she’s now happy to call this collector’s piece home.

Marcia and her husband bought the old caboose from the Turnerville Station, in Whippany, New Jersey, after responding to an ad in the Wall Street Journal that said “wooden cabooses for sale”. At first, the couple used it as a vacation home, but after a going through a divorce and losing her job, Marcia had to move into the caboose permanently. Electricity had been installed a few years back, but with no indoor plumbing and heating, going through the first winter was a pretty rough experience.

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Artist Makes Detailed Architectural Models from Paper

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US-based artist Christina Lihan uses her experience as an architect to create detailed models of famous buildings and urban spaces, from paper.

Ms. Lihan received a Bachelor’s degree in architecture from the University of Virginia and went on to get her Master’s in architecture, from Columbia University, in New York. She done internships in England, France and Italy, but it was the repetitive, monotonous rhythm of hundreds of soviet-built housing cities she saw in Czechoslovakia that most influenced the way she looked at building facades. After completing her studies, she decided to use all of the acquired knowledge in the name of art, by creating impressive architectural models from paper.

Christina Lihan first decided to dedicate her life to art during the time she spent living in Florida, designing hospitals for another architect. She was really bored, and realized she needed a creative outlet so she just started cutting paper, playing with it and trying to turn it into building models. It sort of grew from there and ultimately became her passion. Her impressive creations are made from unpainted, 300lb, watercolor paper. She carves, cuts and folds every little piece by hand until she assembles them into a completed composition. Ms. Lihan starts by photographing the site she wants to replicate, then moves on to sketching with charcoal, and finally enlarges the drawing to the desired size of the finished piece. She generally places the detailed pieces of paper directly over the drawing.

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Paris Museum Displays Skateboarders’ Dream House

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The PAS House, a skateboarding living environment concept thought up by French pro skater Pierre Andre Senizergues and designer Gil Le Bon Delapointe, has finally been brought to life at the La Gaite Museum, in Paris.

Pierre Andre Senizergues has been in love with his skateboard ever since he first discovered it, as a teenager, and has pretty much built his life around the board. He’s ridden it to five world skateboarding championships and built a successful skateboarding shoe line called etnies, so you can see why he felt a little reluctant to part with it every time he went inside his house. But then one day, he had this crazy idea: “I began imagining a city of the future where skateboards are used as the primary form of transportation and recreation — in and out of your home.” the skater told the Toronto Star. “A utopia city for skateboarders would mean that a skateable path, like a ribbon connecting everything together, links each building in an unending ability to keep in motion on your board.”

So, in the early 2000′s, Senizergues partnered with etnies designer and fellow skateboarding fanatic Gil Le Bon Delapointe to create a perfectly skateable house on Senizergues’ Malibu property. They came up with a few great ideas, and even managed to build a miniature model of this skateboarder’s dream house, but after 10 years and some run-ins with the Coastal Commission, it was still in the project phase. But, La Gaite Museum, in Paris, somehow learned about their original housing idea and presented them with the opportunity of building a prototype for their skate-culture exhibition, running this summer.

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House from Disney’s Animated Movie Up Recreated in Real Life

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A full-scale replica of the iconic house from the movie “Up”, complete with small details from Disney/Pixar’s animation, is being built in the city of Herriman, Utah.

Utah fans looking to feast their eyes on some real-life Disney magic won’t have to take the trip to California anymore, as a real masterpiece starts to take shape a lot closer to home, in Herriman. Blair Bangerter, one of the three brothers in charge of Bangerter Homes – a custom home building company – said: “I was just watching the movie, and thought, ‘We build houses kind of like that, ’” So after getting the go-ahead from Disney, they started recreating Carl and Ellie’s house from “Up”, while making some modifications of their own.

While the laws of physics may not apply to cartoons, they do apply in real life, so in order to make this house safe, the Bangerters had to make some changes: the house is now a narrow rectangle rather than a square, and the chimney and fireplace have been modified so they actually match up in real life. But, according to Adam Bangerter “ff you see it in the movie, you are going to see it in real life here”. The outside is painted in sherbet shades and there is even a replica of Carl and Ellie’s hand-printed mailbox and custom-made garden hose reel. And the movie details continue inside: the upstairs nursery has the same mural Ellie paints in the film, her and Carl’s armchairs have been custom ordered to match those in the animation, and there is a painting of fictional Paradise Falls over the mantle and a custom-made fireplace.

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Man Decorates His House with 180,000 Wine Corks

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Miroslav Svoboda’s house, in Mutenice, the Czech Republic, has become a regular tourist magnet after he decorated it with 180,000 wine corks.

The idea of using wine corks to make his house more appealing came to Mr Svoboda two years ago, There was an empty circle space on one of the walls, and he decided to fill it with a drawing, but when he noticed his friends were pretty unimpressed he decided to fill the space with wine corks. The small town of Mutenice is located in the South Moravian wine region of the Czech Republic, so wine corks were fairly easy to come by. A passionate red wine drinker, Miroslav Svoboda saved his own corks, but also got them by the thousands from friends and neighbors.

The experienced bricklayer developed an entire process to clean the wine corks and make sure his decorative work passes the test of time. First he placed them in a disinfectant bath that removed the smell of wine and killed any germs that could have caused mold to appear. He then dried them in nets made from onion bags and cut them in half. Using cement, he fixed each piece of cork into place, by hand, into various shapes. Svoboda says his house is very old and has extremely thick walls, so he didn’t cover his house in corks for padding, but purely for aesthetic reasons.

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German Couple Convert Train Cars into Comfy Home

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Vanessa Stallbaum and Marco Stepniak love trains so much they decided to integrate two old mail cars in the design of their new house.

The German couple met on a train, and their first vacation was a four-day train ride from Berlin to Kazakhstan, so when Marco told his girlfriend he wanted to build their house around two train cars, she immediately agreed. 34-year-old Stepniak got the crazy idea 15 years ago, when he attended a youth club, close to his home town of Herten. It was set up in two old train cars and he remembers thinking someone could actually live in them.

Two new train cars like the two wanted to use for their new house, cost around €500,000 ($725,000), but they were lucky enough to find an online ad for two second-hand mail cars from Switzerland. Built between 1974 and 1975, the two railway antiques were in remarkably good condition, and they cost only €20,000 ($29,000). Unfortunately, transporting them from Switzerland to Germany actually cost more than the cars themselves €26,000 ($37,600), but  Vanessa and Marco spared no expense in order to realize their dream.

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