«I kept building until I saw the sea. Then I stopped. If 22 meters in height weren't enough, I would have gone even higher»
A very special title, as much as the work that it represents: it is a house of 110 m2 arranged on two floors, including two large terraces, able to get up and down, turn on itself 360 °, slide on rails and even bend. All controlled by a single electric control panel located at the base of the building.
The house is located in the private property of Mr. Annunzio Lagomarsini (25th March 1932 - 17th December 2018), in the pretty little village of Castelnuovo Magra, in the province of La Spezia (Italy), bordering the municipal cemetery.
This creation occupied incessantly its author for 7 years, from 1987 to 1994, which in 1978 decided to stop working for others and retire, devoting the energy to himself, putting his ideas into application. His job, as a construction contractor, contributed to the birth of this particular house, since along the course of his professional life he often found himself having to satisfy every kind of request made by his clients: he decided to conceive a 'home that pleased everybody', although the real reason that led him to realize it comes from a family episode.
«My father in old age was moving with great difficulty. In the last years of his life he lived on a hill and in the morning he left the house very slowly, carrying a chair. He was looking for the sun all day and so he had to move to follow him, but only after many efforts he could succeed in his attempt. So I promised myself that I would try to do something for not having this problem when I grow old. I wondered "why do I have to follow the sun and not have the house do it for me?"»
The circumstances in which it was realized are also extraordinary: Mr. Lagomarsini worked in total autonomy, without any help, whereas he was involved in an accident at work in 1968, causing him 85% of his hand disability. There isn't any paper project because the method used by Annunzio for all of his creations never included a design phase, but just the execution of his idea viewing in his extraordinary mind: for this reason it was never patented. However, he built 5 prototypes of the house to study and make the various mechanisms of movement, all rejected but one that is still preserved today. Because of the accident mentioned above, even before starting construction, it was necessary to make the tools that would help and facilitate the final composition (like two small cranes).
The materials used for the construction are mostly recycled: beams, pistons, control units, compressors and almost 3,000 bolts were obtained from shipyards, mechanical industries, landfills; "With what is found in landfills could be built cathedrals, but people don't realize it." However, there are 12 hydraulic valves and 23 iron beams made to measure, for which a greater expense was required..
The house, devoid of foundation, lay on a "scissor" structure without central pivot, of 80% recycled iron, which is 4.20 meters high.If the mechanism of elevation is activated, the house is raised by others 4.20 meters from the ground, for a total of 8.40 meters from the first floor, plus another 2.70 meters from the second floor, reaching 11.10 meters that separate it from the ground; overall, measuring from the roof, at the time of its maximum suspension, the house is 13.50 meters high, while the lower height at the time when the device remains lowered measures 7 meters.
The system gave him many problems and to make sure that the movements were balanced and coordinated with the hydraulic mechanism, he was forced to do hundreds of tests before reaching the final solution: the two scissors, open when the building is lowered, will be closed with the aid of lateral ballast to raise the house, but the initial lifting moment is rather critical because it's necessary to exert a greater force that gives the push and actions the counterweights that hoist the 1050 quintals of the house (of which 850 are only the mechanical base). He then installed a windlass in the center that is activated only in the starting phase and for a few meters.
The central ballast prevents the overturning of the house and allows the lifting of the middle part; there is a group of sectors that acts as a strong point for the 4 connecting rods, making sure that the beams rise at the same time and are balanced through two arches that lead them throughout the movement.
It moves back and forth 12 meters on a track on which it is only layed. Its creator has other sections of rail, some of which are curved, and he could get it out of the green lawn on which it is temporarily parked and take it to another place. The journey the house carry out could be changed by changing the position of the tracks that are also only layed on the ground, in fact when it is lowered, the ballast can lift pieces of rail and through a slight rotation of the house move them and lean on them to change direction; it is also able to cover sections with a slant of 30% and to compensate for inclinations up to 45 °, making it resistant even to possible earthquakes.
The rotation on itself reaches up to 360˚, taking 45 minutes to complete the full circle. During the up and down movement or the rotation one, the inhabitants don't notice anything and every piece of furniture and the object contained inside remains in perfect order.
The house is equipped with electricity, water, gas, household appliances, video entryphone, telephone and any other comfort, starting with a bathroom with shower, sink, toilet and bidet; the only thing that is missing is the radiator, but is heated with electric ones. The pipes are rubber and flexible, for which he trade on the Venturi law.
The whole house can be disassemble, from the prefabricated brickwork walls to the interior furnishings, obtaining pieces that can be crammed into 2 containers.
He lived there with jis wife Emilia for 13 years, from 1994 to 2007, then because mobility difficulties that came to his venerable age he was forced to build a small house at the foot of the work, getting it from the workshop in which he worked.
Like all works, even the house needs maintenance and in September 2012 Mr. Annunzio, with a helper, was checking the hydraulic pistons; accidentally during the maneuvers a button was pressed that set up one of the engines. There was a burst of pistons and engines and at that point the house began to hang on one side. In the end he remove the electricity from the mechanism and with the help of a crane brought it back to a horizontal position, but as a result of this wrong maneuver it is no longer able to rise and now we can see it in a "resting" position.