A carpentry from Hessen builds houses that move around their own axis. This saves energy, creates beautiful light – and can be beneficial when grilling.
Dhis house in Heuchelheim in central Hesse is unusual because of its round shape. If you linger in front of it for a few minutes, you can see the real peculiarity: the house is moving. Every five minutes it rotates a few centimeters further, following the course of the sun.
“I can’t turn the sun on and off, but I can at least make the best possible use of it when it’s there,” says Christopher Rinn. The managing director of Rinn XI. GmbH, who runs the carpentry business in the fourth generation, is proud of the rotating houses in the small community on the Lahn, which he likes to refer to as the “world rotating house center”.
So far, three such houses have been built in Heuchelheim and one in Rödental, Franconia. A fifth project is in the planning stage. However, the revolving houses are only a part of the company, which looks back on more than a hundred years of history in the timber construction sector. However, as Rinn notes, they are the company’s hobbyhorse and an affair of the heart.
“We were declared crazy”
His father Heinrich Rinn, also a carpenter, had the idea for a rotating building when he wanted to build a house for himself and his wife in the 1990s. He realized that the scarcity of resources meant that building construction had to be rethought. It was important to him that the revolving house was energy self-sufficient with the help of the sun and rain and that there were no restrictions in terms of design and use.
Son Christopher smiles when he thinks back to the start of construction in 1996. “In the beginning, the neighbors all declared us crazy.” His mother was also skeptical at first. “But after a few weeks she said: ‘You are only going to carry me out of this house.’”
The design of the buildings was then improved further in each generation, for example with regard to the wooden slewing ring on which the whole house is built. “You can imagine it like a large wooden mushroom sitting on a ball bearing,” explains Rinn. This allows the whole building to be rotated very easily thanks to a 180 watt electric motor. A complete turn takes about half an hour. For those who like it more sweaty, the company offers to install an exercise bike with which the house can be moved with muscle power alone.
Unique in the world
The older revolving houses can only be turned by about 350 degrees in order to avoid tangling in the pipes; then they have to be moved again in the opposite direction to the starting point. In the current construction variant, this technical problem has been resolved; unlimited rotation is possible. That makes their rotating house system unique in the world, according to the Rinn company.
In normal operation, the rotation of the house is taken over by a fully automatic control that is based on the position of the sun. The building has a “light side” with large panoramic windows and a “shadow side” with a few smaller windows. If the light side follows the course of the sun, the thermal energy can get inside and be stored there throughout the day.