Skip to comments.Inside the Hobbit House (Architect designs modern-day cottage based on mythical literature)
Posted on 05/15/2007 2:12:08 PM PDT by NYer
Asked to design a fitting repository for a clients valuable collection of J.R.R. Tolkien manuscripts and artifacts, architect Peter Archer went to the sourcethe fantasy novels that describe the abodes of the diminutive Hobbits.
I came back my client and said, Im not going to make this look like Hollywood, Archer recalled, choosing to focus instead on a finely-crafted structure embodying a sense of history and tradition.
The site was critical tooand Archer found the perfect one a short walk away from his clients main house, where an 18th-century dry-laid wall ran through the property. I thought, wouldnt it be wonderful to build the structure into the wall?
Not only did the wall anchor the cottage, but stones from another section were used in the cottages construction. It literally grew out of the site, Archer said.
Perhaps stranger things have happened in Tolkiens world, but few houses in this one go to such lengths to capture a fictional fantasy in the context of architecture. Here are some details.
Inside the cottage, a bench seat rests below the butterfly window, so called because its center-hinged panes take on the appearance of the insects wings when open. The divided-light look is created with gridwork affixed to both sides of the insulated glass.
Like the butterfly window, the cottages round 3-inch-thick front door is made of Spanish cedar by cabinetmaker David Thorngate of Newark, Del. Though the round door is used as an entryway, a more conventionally shaped (and discreetly concealed) 3-ft. x 7-ft. door in the back of the cottage conforms to code and, Archer concedes, makes it easier to get in and out. To the right of the round door, an electrical outlet is disguised under a metal box.
wonder what the overall cost was to build it.
I could easily live in that house. Just needs a few more throw pillows and cushions — soften up the inside.
Can’t imagine how hard it would be to find furniture to go with it.
That door alone must cost over $1000 ....
So could I...in a heartbeat.
Hobbits prefer holes to houses.
I have subscribed to Fine Homebuilding since Issue No. One . . . they're up in the 180s now. They concentrate on one-off custom homes, some rehabs of historical structures, some solar, no-chem, sod, timber-framed, and other unusual designs. With the exception of a few features on rehabbing ranch houses and the like, their stuff is very, very high end.
And the inside is stripped so you can see the architectural features. I'm sure it's fitted up with cushions and throws already.
$1,000 wouldn't pay for the wood.
It’s a hobbit house, not a hobbit hole.
Frodo did move into a house in Bree as a ruse for his escape.
Tolkien said that holes had become dwellings for either the very rich or the very poor, while houses had become more popular in general.
All said, it’s a beautiful house.
“Frodo did move into a house in Bree as a ruse for his escape.”
Oops. Make that “Buckland”.
That’s a work of art.
How cool is that?!
In a hole in the ground, there lived a hobbit.
Seeing a $10,000+ door being special ordered is not too unusual at the Lowe’s store where I work.
I don’t know, I’d get tired of bending over to avoid hitting my head.
A standard size fiberglass front door can cost over $650. Custom made round... I'd say $2500, minimum.
The sky’s the limit as far as what you can spend on custom woodwork.
It’s the current issue — I haven’t even gotten it yet in the mail . . .
I went and looked - I was wrong. Current issue showed up in the mailbox today, and it’s July.
Here's a question for you: If Frank Loyd Write was such a great architect, why aren't his designs being replicated by more developers?
We see Capes, salt boxes, farm houses, even one story ranch styles and this new chit with the faux Palladian arch everywhere, but no FLW. Why?
Because his homes were all leaky, drafty and unlivable, and as you say, stiff, that's why. IMO.
Three inch thick Spanish cedar in lengths/widths suitable for building a door will be much higher per board foot than that.
“That Door” is over 5 thousand. A lot closer to 10,000.
Frank Lloyd Wright built an office building for an oil company in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, the “Price Tower.” It was reopened to the public in 2002, I think, and our homeschool group from Tulsa visited.
The tour guide was a former employee of the oil company, and he said the some employees just couldn’t stand the insane angles and inconvenient spaces; they quit and went to work for the Phillips! The bathroom was 6-sided, and no side the same length!
The building was going to be used as an art gallery, a couple of downstairs floors, and a boutique hotel in some upstairs areas that had originally been apartments. It was neat, but strange. I like things *square*! (Which is one reason I loved Oklahoma :-).
It is a charming little place..
Like I said . . . a kilobuck wouldn’t pay for the wood. Let alone the custom ironwork and the woodworker’s time in the piece.
Some of his work is excellent, some very beautiful. But some is just dated and ugly - plus his roofs leak, and his foundations shift.
A number of years ago, that same Fine Homebuilding magazine had a long article on efforts to save a Wright private residence in Mississippi. Always deficient in engineering, he had failed to get soil studies before construction. The house was built with completely inadequate foundations on a particularly nasty and shifty soil called "gumbo" (you have to use deep pilings if you insist on building in this stuff). Massive concrete pumping and reinforcement I think managed to save it.
Our first house was a passive solar in the shape of a trapezoid - short wall on the north, long wall (all glass) on the south. The concrete block man was not happy - he said he should have charged $5 a block!
Oklahoma has nice, solid bedrock. (Nice until you try to grow a lawn ...)
There were some FLW houses in Tulsa - oil money - and some knockoffs. I think some of his interior details are charming, but the general Prairie Style look doesn’t do anything for me.
I like his Prairie Style - which has some modern imitators, including one that sits right down the street from us. They seem to be fairly popular in Atlanta, especially combined with some features of the Green & Green/Craftsman style.
Our house might be considered an echo of Prairie - large square masses, asymmetrical wings, overhanging eaves and a large hip roof - but it's built of wood not masonry.
But I agree with you 100 percent on his later designs -- the darned things don't WORK in any way - functionally, engineering-wise, or any other respect.
Back when I was a pilot, flying over Oklahoma weirded me out with all those section lines plainly visible in all directions as far as the eye could see . . . but at least it is VERY difficult to get lost in Oklahoma!
I loved having the entire world marked out in neat square miles.
Odd that he’d overlook the foundations in that one instance, as he was an innovator in that particular field; his design for the foundation of the original Imperial Hotel in Tokyo was what helped it to survive a massive earthquake in 1923.
“Open in the name of Mordor!”
I love the Midwest!
I imagine he actually associated an engineer in the case of the Imperial Hotel, since he was aware of the earthquake risk.
You're kidding! No offense but were I in the market for such an elaborate door, I would probably go through a custom millwork firm rather than a store chain. BTW, I prefer Lowe's over Home Depot; much better selection and better organized store. Hope you enjoy your job!
Unique, original .. and downright different. Lots more photos at the above link. Enjoy!
Then you would LOVE Manhattan.
It’s not square!
Do you live in tornado alley?
I am always fascinated by what aspects of the natural landscape attract settlers. I grew up on LI where, like LA, we are prepared for the occasional hurricane but could never understand why anyone would intentionally choose to live in say, San Francisco, subjecting themselves to earthquakes. Then there are those who live in wildfire zones. Again, not an area I would choose.
Here in the middle of NYS, we are spared the hurricanes and over the past century have only experienced one small and quite rare tornado. We have the 4 Seasons and all the beauty that accompanies them. Right now, the perfume of blossoming lilacs fills the air and the Spring lawns are verdant and emerald green. By August, the lawns will have turned brown from the heat (Albany is in a valley) but they all turn green again with the Autumn rains. In October we begin to gather apples (some of the best in this nation come from this area) and watch the trees transform into gold, magenta, purple, rust as the cool nights slow down the flow of sap. Winter brims cool and brisk but not untolerable. January is perhaps our coldest month with nightime temps dipping below zero but this is short lived. By March, the daffodils, tulips and other bulbs are pushing their royally colored heads through the hard earth. And the cycle continues.
Come and visit us sometime!
Not anymore, but we lived in Norman, OK, a suburb of Oklahoma City, for three years, and in Broken Arrow, a suburb of Tulsa, for four years. We spent lots of evenings huddled in our laundry room waiting for a disaster, and evac'ed to underground shelters more than once.
I don't miss the tornadoes! It was very interesting, meteorologically, because storms would come right up the Interstate from Oklahoma City to Tulsa, as if they were following the highway. I suppose there was some natural feature that guided weather systems that way.
Instead of molesting bait with a 2 wt. fly rod, cast a fly to snook able to eat any trout in NY except a lake trout. And, if you don’t mind an exhausting, hours long dispute over ownership of that tarpon fly you fed to a tarpon big enough to eat lake trout, Florida Bay awaits you.
Instead of diving in a dark, cold lake or quarry, consider the Keys. And, if you like wilderness type activities, there is always the Everglades.
We can even outdo NYC for Road Rage cases, and our drug wars are second to none.
PS We officially have worse traffic, too. Makes it H*ll to get to one of the several excellent ballet troupe's’ performances, sometimes
PPS Our buses are almost as dirty as NYC buses. Isn’t competition wonderful?
Have any of you ever been to the “House on the Rock” in Wisconsin? The architect had been fired by Wright and vowed to show him a thing or two. It is a very interesting house built on and around a large rock finger and has trees, boulders and water in it (working from long ago memory here, so I may be off on some things). It is another “cold” house, not one you would like to live in, but interesting none the less.
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