You might have seen rotating houses before, but this one predates them by decades. Built by Italian engineer Angelo Invernizzi, the house has an upper section that rests on a circular track and follows the sun. The 1,500 tons’ building is powered by two motors with a total of three horsepower.
Villa Girasole (Villa Sunflower), in the hilly surroundings of Marcellise (Verona, Italy), is an extraordinary revolving house built between 1929 and 1935 by the engineer Angelo Invernizzi, whose dream was to build a house that were able to follow the motion of the sun.
The two storied and L-shaped house rests on a circular base, which is over 44 meters in diameter. In the middle there is a 42-meter tower or lighthouse, which the rotating movement hinges on. A diesel engine pushes the house over three tracks where 15 trolleys can slide the 5,000 cubic meters building at a speed of 4 millimeters per second (it takes 9 hours and 20 minutes to rotate fully). Designed to facilitate necessary repairs, the wheels are clearly visible in the space between the garden roof and the concrete underside of the rotating villa.
Mr. Invernizzi was thinking of the sunâ€™s path, of a relation with landscape and the space of the inhabitantsâ€™ life. He ventured to hope that the new construction breakthroughs would free mankind from the heaviness of traditional techniques and from the burden of history.
The interiors, designed by the architectâ€™s friend and colleague Ettore Fagioli, combine the modernity of the â€˜Novecentoâ€™ with that of rationalism; the furnishings in curved metal tubing and the rigorous compositional grammar of the facades combine with the monumental entrance, the pillars covered with gold mosaic, the floors also in ceramic mosaic tile or wood with a geometrical design, the multicolored mosaics of the bathrooms, and the ochre yellow wallpaper, to bring out the value of both movements, reflecting a fundamental chapter of Italian creativity. Reference to the dynamic, sculptural forms of Futurism can be seen in the triangular swimming pool with beveled corners, from which a slide emerges, in reinforced concrete, designed by the engineer Fogliani of Milan, in one corner of the vast garden.
Villa Girasole is currently owned by the Invernizzi Foundation and the Architecture Academy of Mendrisio (Switzerland).