Robert Heinlein's House of the Future



Images from Popular Mechanics

Alas, it isn't a tesseract as described in And He Built a Crooked House, but Robert Heinlein did build himself a very interesting modern house that is a good model for building today. Popular Mechanics covered it in 1952. It's in Colorado Springs, it is purposely tiny at 1150 square feet, and the unusual flat roof is sprayed with aluminum paint to reflect heat.

It does all the tricks we talk about: "The roof projects far enough beyond the south wall to shade the south windows from summer sun, yet admits light to the windows in winter when the sun is lower in the sky."

There are no rugs, movable lamps or furniture; the minimalist interior can be cleaned in an hour. Although the house is only two bedrooms it can accommodate guests; all of the built in divans convert into double beds. Heinlein says:

The built-in bed with storage drawers beneath it, the build in divans that can be converted to extra beds and all the other furniture are built right down to the floor. THere is nothing to clean under."

Perhaps the oddest feature is the "commuting" dining room table, designed to eliminate the "time consuming domestic chore" of carrying dishes back and forth. The table rolls through the wall so that the china and dishes can be laid out in the kitchen, then rolled to the dining room and back into the kitchen after a meal, to put the dishes straight into the dishwasher.

Even in 1952, Americans were obsessed with price per square foot. Popular Mechanics writes:

The house cost a little more than $ 20 per square foot. That sounds expensive, but it really isn't. For one thing, cost per square foot would have been less had Heinlein built a larger house; he packed all the expensive kitchen and bathroom fixtures into a small residence.

Some things never change.

More at Site: RAH, found on BoingBoing

Tags: Books | Colorado | Housing Industry

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