Imagine sitting on your porch and a fierce wind picks up, knocking over chairs and drinks. Then imagine hitting a button that allows the entire top floor of your home to rotate up to 348 degrees so you can block that wind. Welcome to Galiläi, a sculptural 19,000 square foot masterpiece overlooking False Bay in the Western Cape province of South Africa that has just this capability. Located in the Spanish Farm suburb of Somerset West and designed by Raymond Alexander, the two story Daliesque dwelling is an engineering, design and material feat.
The adventurous German businessman Harald Scheppig and his wife built the home out of curiosity more than anything else. Mr Scheppig told Inhabitat that it took two years to plan and another two years to build. It was completed in 2001, but you’d never know it thanks to a special plaster covering the home’s concrete shell that prevents cracks from occurring. Working with a Namibian concrete artist, the design team fashioned multiple domes with high ceilings and skylights that bring natural light deep into the interior.
Galiläi’s upper level is reached by a retractable bridge, which is necessary for the rotating mechanism, while the lower level can be reached directly from the electrical entry gate. The electrical drive, which allows the home to be rotated either clockwise or counterclockwise, is powered by a 3.8 KW laser-controlled German Bauer gear motor that has withstood the test of time. It operates with a chain and clicks into position with a chain lock. The top floor has a 49-foot diameter and weighs 850 metric tons.
All told, there are at least five bedrooms in the home, potentially more depending on each owner’s preference, with all kinds of tricked out details. The living room has this incredible dome illuminated with a true representation of the constellations of the northern and southern hemisphere made with glass fiber cables. Round fenestrations throughout reinforce the organic, sculptural aesthetic, and wide sliding glass doors break out to incredible mountain and bay views. “There’s not a single straight wall in the house,” Mr Scheppig said with pride.
He has the house on the market for a cool R25 million ($1.8 million), but he’s not in any great hurry to sell. And we can see why.
All photographs by Tafline Laylin for Inhabitat