At the start of the Gregorian Calendar year, I wrangled up a few eco- and apocalypse-friendly homes, both real (and for sale!) and conceptual, in anticipation of the expiration of the Mesoamerican Long Count calendar. Or, as it’s better known, Dec. 21, 2012. And in case you didn’t get the memo, Dec. 21 is this Friday. Three days away. Oh, how time flies when you’re super-busy prepping for end times! Or not.
That said, I figured it would be fitting to republish my initial post from earlier this year to once again highlight a few pieces of real estate ideal for riding out alien invasions, massive earthquakes, solar storms, geomagnetic reversals, erupting supervolcanoes, and catastrophic collisions with meteorites and/or rogue Sumerian planets. I've also added a handful of newbies — floating passivehouses! private islands! SSIP construction! — to the mix. And I said it before and I’ll say it again: Most, but not all, of the below homes were designed specifically with safety, security, and self-sufficiency in mind and/or to withstand some pretty extreme weather. But when Planet X is hurling towards Earth with a spaceship filled with aliens from the Zeta Reticuli star system trailing not too far behind, I don't think a solar-powered concrete palace in the Ozarks will do anyone much good.
Silohome – Sarnac, N.Y.
This past year, I featured numerous noteworthy home conversion projects. My favorites? It’s a tossup between this school bus-turned-tiny home and this decomissioned water tower in London. However, when it comes to doomsday-friendliness, Silohome, an upstate New York residence partially built deep (as far as 185 feet below the Earth’s surface) into a decommissioned Atlas-F intercontinental ballistic missile silo, wins top prize. And if you truly believe that Dec. 21 will be rough going, you’re in luck: this “unparalleled 3,900-square-foot subterranean luxury estate with Cold War flair” is currently on the market for
$750,000 $995,000 (or a little over $2M with a log home, runway with hangar, and a whole bunch of land thrown in).
Safe House – Warsaw, Poland
For those of you looking to ride out the end of days in modernist style, look no further than KWK Promes’ Safe House. Located in the idyllic Polish countryside, this impenetrable — yet stylish and sustainable — fold-up concrete fortress features an array of “maximum security” bells and whistles including a drawbridge. (A drawbridge! How perfect for deterring homicidal home invaders, marauding mother-in-laws, noisy neighbors, aggressive Avon ladies, and, of course, whatever unsavories just happen to be unleashed on Dec. 21.) I’d like to think Safe House is where Claire, Charlotte Gainsbourg’s doomsday-obsessed character in “Melancholia,” would have fled to if she had had the chance to escape from her husband’s lavish golf resort.
Pensmore – Christian County, Mo.
At 72,000-square-feet, Pensmore, a concrete “residential chateau” (still) under construction in rural Missouri, is larger than the White House, the Hearst Castle and even, gasp, Candy Spelling’s old digs near Beverly Hills. Naturally, this Ozarkian behemoth has managed to raise a heck of a lot of eyebrows especially given that the man behind it, concrete kingpin Steven Huff, is touting his aboveground bunker’s eco-friendly features, calling the 13-bedroom home “a modern, practical implementation of the Jeffersonian concept of independence and sustainability.” And in addition to sustainability, Huff is also touting features that may come in most useful during a doomsday scenario: Pensmore is built to withstand an F-5 tornado and I’m guessing a slew of other natural disasters. However, the jury is still out as to how Pensmore would hold up during an alien invasion or solar flare.
“Up” House – Harriman, Utah
Although interpretations of what exactly will go down this Friday vary, none of them sound all too appealing (take it from me and don’t accidentally watch the 2009 Nicholas Cage film “The Knowing” before boarding an early morning flight). If doomsday hits and you’re looking to make a quick escape but can’t bear to leave your home and all of its contents behind, consider Bangerter Homes’ whimsical reproduction of the floating home featured in Disney/Pixar’s “Up.” Located in the Salt Lake City suburb of Harriman, this 2,800-square foot, Key West-colored Victorian isn’t actually designed for take-off. And besides, Armageddon will have come and gone before the local HOA gives you permission to affix thousands of helium balloons to the chimney in hopes that the winds will carry you to Bugarach, France.
So let’s say, hypothetically, the world as we know it truly does go to hell in a plus-sized hand basket on Friday. But what if, instead of a series of cataclysmic events or a collision with the alien planet Nibiru, Mother Nature decides to pull a “The Walking Dead” on us? If doomsday turns out to include marauding hordes of flesh-eating zombies, Zombie Ranch, a vertical farm/fortress that pairs self-sufficiency with living dead-proof security features, may be mankind’s only hope. And get this: the Zombie Ranch housing concept is a self-sustaining, eco-friendly one. Instead of fossil fuels, the cantilevered structure is powered by a most interesting renewable energy source: the zombies themselves.
Massaro House, Putman County, N.Y.
Although it may seem much more noble to save a historic Frank Lloyd Wright home in Phoenix from a nefarious developer, I suppose it would make more sense to invest in a Frank Lloyd Wright-“inspired” home if we’re talking Armageddon real estate. Sure, the asking price is higher ($19.9 million vs. $2.4 million), but along with a massive home constructed in the mid-2000s using preliminary plans drafted by Wright in the late 1940s, you get a private 11-acre island in the middle of a lake in rural New York. The perfect setting to ride out whatever cataclysmic nonsense is coming our way! There’s also a helipad in the event that a quick escape is needed. One thing does give me pause, however: Petra Island, the craggy island in which the stunning Massaro House is situated, is heart-shaped. This may or may not act as a beacon for invading extraterrestrials with a love for organic architecture.
Sunshower SSIP House, New Orleans
Again, it’s rather uncertain what exactly will go down this Friday aside from Winter Solstice (my totally wild prediction: nothing). But here’s a remarkable home — a solar-powered, rainwater-collecting two-bedroom abode built from steel structural insulated panels and designed by two Tulane architecture professors — constructed to withstand whatever nasty, potentially catastrophic events Mother Nature just happens to throw at it: hurricane-force winds, 8.0-magnitude earthquakes, floods, wildfires, tornados, you name it. Plus, it’s termite-proof and mold- and mildew-resistant. And there's an outdoor shower on the front porch!
Autark Home, Maastricht, The Netherlands
So yeah … some guy in northeast China is building a 65-foot ark that he plans to hop aboard once Friday’s (anticipated) biblical flooding hits the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. Or he was building the ark until he ran out of my money. Anyways, I’m much more partial to Autark, an IKEA-furnished, self-sustaining floating home out of the Netherlands that’s built to stringent Passivhaus standards (it’s currently moored in one of my favorite cities on the planet). It looks like there's space for a couple of (domesticated) critters on there, too.