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Stories you can use to start conversation or to add interest to speeches or presentations


Resources for Speakers - Anecdotes About Houses

Calendar House

Appuldurcombe House, which dates to 1701, was damaged by a Luftwaffe bomb. Its east wing was partly restored by English Heritage in the 1980s and is now a popular wedding venue. It is part of a 287-acre estate that dates from before the Norman Conquest and has parklands designed by Capability Brown. When Henry VIII dissolved the monasteries, he gave Appuldurcombe estate to James Worsley, his former page. Worsley had been the young Henry’s whipping boy, the person punished to make the prince feel guilty for misbehaving. Appuldurcombe House was known as a calendar house because it had 52 rooms, 365 windows, seven staircases and 12 principle rooms. It comes with a falconry centre, shop and museum, seven holiday cottages and two farmhouses.

Sand

Despite the abundant desert, Middle East developers were buying plenty of beach sand from around the world (because the massive concrete construction in Dubai and Saudi Arabia, among other places, requires coarser sand than the desert grains tempered for centuries by sun and wind). The need has now grown such that London's The Independent reported in June that black market gangs, some violent, are stealing beach sand--and that two dozen entire islands in Indonesia have virtually disappeared since 2005 because of sand-mining.

Japan

In Japan, houses are considered depreciating assets. Half of all homes are destroyed by the time they are 38 and rebuilt. There are 4 times as many architects and twice as many construction workers per capita as the US. There is no home equity LOC and virtually no home improvement industry.

Ghosts

Sarah Winchester, the widow of the founder the Winchester Company, built a confusing mansion to ward off the spirits of those killed by Winchester rifles. At its zenith, the house consisted of over 200 rooms, 10,000 windows, 47 fireplaces, 2,000 doors, several trapdoors, and multiple spy holes.

London

'Iceberg' houses in London. Trad Georgian townhouse 3 stories high but with anything up to 6 u/ground levels, often right out to edge of boundary.

Britain

Flood plain land cheap bc difficult to get plan permission to build. So now innovative products such as aerated concrete so that whole house will float up in a flood. Or even just have a sacrificial ground floor of unlined concrete with all electrics up high.

Architect Richard Rogers in his autobiography recalled standing in the rain 40 years ago waiting for the official opening of the Pompideau Centre, with its colorful tubes and scaffolding. An old lady approached him and asked if he knew who had designed the building. "I did", said Rogers proudly. At which she whacked him over the head with her umbrella.

Hope Gardens in London container sized but purpose-built units. Everything modular, so can be swapped ou in case of damage. Built on 'meantime' sites - earmarked for future development.

USA

A house built in Santa Monica mts using wings cut off a scrapped 747 as roofs. You cd walk out on them and bounce on the ends - massively over-engineered.

Houston has no zoning laws, so you can basically build what you like. One guy decorated the front of his house with 50,000 flattened beer cans, most of which he personally drank.

Guy living right on Malibu Beach in a 'mobile home', which it was, once. Now it's been built out into a $5m home, but still pays rates on basis that it's a mobile home.

(NZ) Sunday Times has regular feature in magazine showing people in unusual homes. So a 79 yo living in bush shanty Kohukohu. Sounded wistful - been there 26 years but not fully accepted bc didn't go to school there. Lots of grandchildren but they never visit. "Nobody likes living by themselves; they just know how to do it." "I don't think anyone has the lifestyle they actually planned."

Huge impact of Instagram on contemp architecture. Photography books and magazines always had an influence, but very slow. But in 10 years Instagram has transformed in the blink of an eye. Now premium on attracting cameras. In 2017 1.2 trillion photos taken, 85% of them on smartphones. Museum of Ice Cream/Selfie Factory. Curated urban spaces.

Story abt guy working in brick-making factory. Every evening he used to walk out with a brick, w/o partic trying to hide what he was doing. When he retired they found he had built 3 (brick) houses.

Australia

Bill Bryson story of little 3 yo girl living next door to a new house being built. Builders adopted her, gave her little jobs, then at end of week gave her a shiny new half crown 'wages'. Her mum said they shd bank it, so off they went to open a new acct. Teller asked where money came from. "I've been buiding a house." "Oh", said the teller. "And are you going to build some more next week?" "Yes" says the little 3 yo. "If they remember to bring the fucking bricks."

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