The Oldest Rotating House in the World

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Rotating house

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Nowadays, rotating houses are not an innovation. There have been many fantastic examples around the world, including the magnificent Girasole in Canberra. It is no secret that its owner and designer was inspired by Italian architecture and design. Not many, however, know that our Australian Girasole’s predecessor carries the same name and was built almost 63 years ago.

Villa Girasole is the oldest rotating house in the world designed by a local navy engineer, Angelo Invernizzi. Situated near Verona, Italy, the house follows the path of the sun in a circular motion. Translated from Italian, the word girasole means sunflower. An appropriate name for the house which follows the sun.

The idea behind the creation of the first-of-its-kind rotating house is simple – to harness solar energy. Modern buildings use solar panels to transform it into energy.

The implementation of the ambitious project took six years from 1929 to 1935. While it might seem too long for the construction of a house, we all know Girasole was no ordinary dwelling. Its unique for that era design and purpose required the use of advanced technologies.

The First Rotating House Technology

Girasole consists of two main body parts – a circular base (44 meter diameter) and an L-shaped rotational block. In the centre you will see a beautiful 40-meter-high tower described by many as a light-house-type construction.

To rotate the 1500 tons structure, Invernizzi created an elegant mechanism powered by two diesel motors. With a speed of 4 mm per second, Girasole completes a full rotation cycle in approximately 9 hours and 20 minutes. Compared to modern rotating houses which can do make a full turn in less than 10 minutes, it might seem like an eternity. However, this is more than enough to follow the leisurely motion of the sun.

Despite the genius design and advanced mechanics, each turn leaves signs of wear and tear in the foundation of the building. The vertical shaft grinds deep into the earthbound foundation, thus the very technology which awakens the structure also brings it one step closer to destruction.

Today, Girasole is owned by the Invernizzi Foundation and the Swiss Mendrisio Academy of Architecture.

Author: Sam

Samantha Winterland (Sam) is the owner and creator of Best Home Ideas. Having graduated from the Withehouse Institute of Design Australia, she has devoted her blog to exploring the latest innovations in interior design. Sam admits she loves everything DIY and is always ready to face a new challenge.

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  1. Hello, Neat post. I really fell in love with Girasole! Its design and mechanics are simply genius! It’s on my list of laces to visit now 🙂

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  2. I would have never imagined that the first rotating house was built in 1935 – that seems like aeons ago.

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  3. Great article.
    Just a quick note, the Mendrisio Academy of Architecture is in Swiss not Sweden.

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    • Thank you, Miriam. My mistake 🙂 I will correct it 🙂 Otherwise, I am happy you liked it.

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  4. I don’t know if it its of any historical interest but my father Thomas P Hanlon Jr. (now 90 and still living) spent a night in this house during World War II. Having heard the story several times, here is the short version of the story. In the last days of war in Europe the Germans were retreating fast and the allies were on their heal. Staying in the Stadium in Verona one night in the morning the 88th division headed East. Taking turns riding and walking he and his unit were approached at a crossroad by a group of children sent by the town wanting to be liberated. Apparently the Germans had been using the town and house but had moved out the day before. Asking his superior if they cold go they were permitted to go as his unit planned to stop for the night a few miles up the road . With this my father and perhaps 5 others headed north with the children . On the way her recalled seeing some dead GI’s along the road. Reaching the town they were greeted by the town and treated with food and drink. During the celebration some partisans joined them. After the party planing on hiking back to their unit in the dark the town invited them to stay the night in the rotating house. The following morning they met up with their unit.

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  1. Villa Girasole, Italy: the Oldest Rotating Hous... - […] Villa Girasole is the oldest rotating house in the world designed by a local navy engineer, Angelo Invernizzi. Situated…

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