CLOSE

Best Friends Build Own Private Neighborhood to Be Together Forever

For many groups of faithful friends, adulthood means accepting that logistics are often the biggest obstacle to maintaining relationships. As hard as it is to get the gang together for dinner when everyone lives in the same city, it becomes a Herculean (or Sisyphean) task once the winds of change have scattered everyone to lands afar. Rather than succumb to the inevitable growing apart, four close-knit couples in Texas came up with a clever way to live together while maintaining their independence. They've built themselves four tiny houses all in a row, each within a stone’s throw of the next.

Because nothing says friends forever like signing a deed together, eight great pals living in the Austin area purchased ten acres of land outside the city limits, near the Llano River, for what they dubbed the “Llano Exit Strategy.” With a plot of earth to collectively call their own, the environmentally minded landowners enlisted the services of architect Matt Garcia to design four identical residential structures, one for each of the families. In keeping with the pragmatic minimalism of the “tiny house” movement, the homes comprise a mere 350 square feet apiece, with one bedroom, one bathroom, and one living room.

Where the friends’ extremely private community breaks from tiny house tradition is the existence of a fifth building: a big 1500-square-foot cabin with a full kitchen and additional social space for the neighbor-friends to come together as they please—think of it as a ground-level tree house, or a college residence hall lounge with nicer furniture. There are two dishwashers, presumably to avoid fighting over anyone leaving their silverware out too long, a porch, picnic tables, and even six bunk beds to accommodate lucky guests.

It’s not hard to see why the couples chose the Llano River as the site of their ideal idyll. They “had been hunting for a quiet escape from the ever-growing buzz of Austin, a place to ride their bikes, reconnect with nature and recharge,” and the riverfront location checks all those boxes. They’ve made sure to respect their natural surroundings by working with the arid local climate, rather than against it: the homes’ sloped butterfly-style roofs catch rainwater for reuse around the compound, while metal siding and good insulation both reduce heat from the glaring summer sun while preserving indoor warmth during cooler months.

The couples haven’t yet moved to their shared property full-time, escaping their busy city lives mostly on holidays and long weekends, but they do plan to retire there. What a way to grow old together.

nextArticle.image_alt|e
Ker Robertson, Getty Images
arrow
architecture
5 Scrapped Designs for the World's Most Famous Buildings
Ker Robertson, Getty Images
Ker Robertson, Getty Images

When an architect gets commissioned to build a skyscraper or a memorial, they’re usually not the only applicant for the job. Other teams of designers submit their own ideas for how it should look, too, but these are eventually passed over in favor of the final design. This is the case for some of the world’s most recognizable landmarks—in an alternate world, the Arc de Triomphe might have been a three-story-tall elephant statue, and the Lincoln Memorial a step pyramid.

GoCompare, a comparison site for financial services, dug into these could-have-been designs for Alternate Architecture, an illustrated collection of scrapped designs for some of the most famous structures in the world, from Chicago's Tribune Tower to the Sydney Opera House.

Click through the interactive graphic below to explore rejected designs for all five landmarks.

nextArticle.image_alt|e
Paul Wegener
arrow
Design
For Sale: The Safest House in America, Complete With Hidden Command Center
Paul Wegener
Paul Wegener

For some people, locking the front door just isn't enough to feel fully safe at home. Maybe they set up a home security system. Maybe they go out and buy a fancy smart home hub with a security camera. Or maybe they spend six years and $30 million to build a veritable fortress mansion, as one guy in Atlanta did. That house, called the Rice House and referred to as one of the safest homes in America, is now up for sale for $14.7 million.

Built by an entrepreneur who hired a security architect with a background designing Justice Department buildings (and his own bunker/house), the Rice House is billed as a "modern fortress" in the real estate listing.

For its owner, creating an impenetrable home was more of a personal challenge than a real security need, according to Bloomberg. But by its features, you'd think it was built for a Bond super-villain or a head of state, not a businessman in a wealthy Atlanta neighborhood.

A secure door with several locks
Paul Wegener

It has its own water and power supply, a 5000-square-foot command center hidden behind a waterfall, a vault, and doors capable of withstanding machine gun fire. There’s an indoor gun range, in case you need some target practice. There’s enough room in the garage for 30 cars, in case you have a few dozen Batmobiles—or you want to invite friends to hunker down with you during the apocalypse.

And since anyone who lives there might be more invested in staying safely inside the gates than going out on the weekends, the place has plenty of amenities that make it a standalone mini-community. It’s got its own art gallery, a gym, a bowling alley, a wine cellar, a home theater, and a pool. It has three kitchens and two commercial elevators, with staff quarters so the servants you inevitably need to cater to you never need to leave, either.

But wait, there’s more. If the house lacks something you want, that’s fine! Because according to the listing, “the property purposefully awaits final personalization.” In other words, for your $14.7 million, it’s not finished.

Check it out here.

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios