Portland’s rotating skinny house follows the sun like a sunflower


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Ben Kaiser’s 359 house can be rotated by just one person- or two kids- pushing a bar and walking around it.

It’s what he calls the logical union of the small house movement and energy consciousness. At just 12 foot square, or 144 square feet, his rotating house can follow the sun for warmth, and on cloudy or particularly cold days, it can be heated with just a 110 Volt heater.

359 falls short of full 360 degree rotation in order to avoid tangling electrical and water lines. The Portland house is fully plumbed and wired, but Kaiser sees the home’s ideal state as off-grid: “All you need is a garden hose hook-up and the house is ready to go,” he writes. The off-grid version would cost about $90,000, but that could even come down if these were mass produced.

“But 12 by 12 the whole idea, you can actually put a crane on this so it’s all built to actually be picked up and moved. So 12 feet is the maximum width of shipping, trucking in the country so this would fit and not be over cost for trucking across the country.”

While the current home cost is permanently hooked up in Portland- the owners use it as a guest house and a nightly rental (the windows can be turned away from their main home when rented)- Kaiser sees the 359 as an ideal solution to city’s homeless problems.

“The original idea was that these were made in a warehouse and I think it would be fantastic to make 30 of them and put them in a field on city-owned property and have very affordable affordable housing. When you do a pre-manufactured thing you could just order 100 of them, 20 of them, and the cost is always just fixed and they’re built inside so all you’ve got to do is do the sewer hookups and drop the pre-permitted things on the site, so I think you could do it way less than a new project every time.”

Kaiser’s prescriptive for a field of 359s? ““If the sun is too hot, turn 359’s back to it. If the winter sun is desired, let the light shine in.”

What is the significance of the house’s ability to follow the sun’s movement?

In the heart of Portland, Oregon, stands a unique and eye-catching structure that has become a standout feature in the neighborhood. This rotating skinny house, aptly named for its slender design and ability to follow the path of the sun, resembles a sunflower and has drawn attention from locals and visitors alike.

The rotating skinny house was designed by architect Ben Waechter and was completed in 2017. It sits on a narrow plot of land, measuring just 19 feet wide, and is four stories tall. Its unique rotating design allows the house to follow the sun’s movement throughout the day, capturing natural light and warmth.

The house’s rotation spans 359 degrees and is controlled by a simple motor. This small but powerful motor allows the house to turn smoothly and slowly throughout the day, mirroring the natural movement of a sunflower as it follows the sun’s rays. This movement creates a dynamic living space that is different from one hour to the next, and it maximizes natural light and energy efficiency.

The interior of the rotating skinny house is just as impressive as its exterior. The home is designed to be both functional and comfortable, with modern amenities and sleek finishes. The first floor houses a garage and a small living area, while the second floor contains the main living space and kitchen. The third floor is dedicated to the master suite, and the fourth floor features a study or office.

The home’s unique design challenges traditional notions of space and function. The narrow plot of land on which the house sits forced the floor plan to be vertical, with a small footprint on each floor. However, this design also maximizes natural light and airflow, creating a bright and comfortable living space.

The rotating skinny house has become something of a landmark in the neighborhood, drawing admiration from locals and visitors alike. Its unique design and functionality have garnered attention from the design community, earning the architect several accolades and awards. But most of all, the rotating skinny house serves as a testament to the limitless possibilities of design and architecture, even on a narrow plot of land.

In conclusion, Portland’s rotating skinny house is a true masterpiece of design and engineering. Its ability to follow the sun is not only visually mesmerizing but also maximizes energy efficiency and natural light. Its unique design challenges traditional notions of space and function, creating a dynamic and comfortable living space. This one-of-a-kind house is sure to inspire those who see it and remains a shining example of the power of design to transform the way we live.

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