How one man built a sliding house to adapt to the changing seasons

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By Claire Bates

It gives new meaning to the phrase ‘moving house.’ At first glance, Ross Russell’s Suffolk home looks like a traditional East Anglian barn. But with one push of a button the house begins to change shape.

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Moving house: Mr Russell spent a year designing and building his house In just six minutes the steel and wooden shell that covers the building can slide forward as a canopy, retract back to cover the annexe and yard but leave the bathroom open, or stop halfway covering the bathroom but revealing the conservatory.

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The 22-ton mobile shell can be moved to provide shelter and sun in different parts of the house The 20 ton mobile roof and wall enclosure is moved using four electric motors powered only by standard car batteries. It measures 52ft long, 20ft wide and 23ft high. ‘In the winter we will have the roof pulled over to keep up warm,’ Mr Russell, 48, said. ‘But on a summer evening it is a magical experience to be able to pull the roof back and sit in the sunshine.’

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Atmospheric: Natural light and views from the house change as the shell moves position Mr Russell, who had a successful business in the City decided he wanted to build a countryside home with his wife Sally that was a little different. ‘We put at the top of the brief, “We are prepared to be radical,”‘ he said. As he had never built a house before he contacted an old school friend Alex de Rijke who was now part of DRMM architects, and put his idea of a moving house to him.

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Convertible garage: This image shows how one area is selectively covered to shelter the bikes Mr Rijke was enthusiastic and it took them 12 months for the house to be designed and built. ‘Sliding House offers radically variable spaces, extent of shelter, sunlight and insulation,’ Mr Rijke said. ‘It is about the ability to vary the overall building composition and character according to season, weather, or a remote-controlled desire to delight.’

Sliding doors: A graphic(R) reveals how the sliding shell moves to cover different areas of the house

The door openings are spaced so there is always an exit, at any point along the travel path, in case the mechanism jams.

The distinctive red timber cladding was designed to look like a Monopoly hotel and works to insulate the building in winter.

But on brighter days Mr Russell takes the opportunity to slide back the shell to reveal the beautiful views of the surrounding countrywide.

‘We were only ever going to build one house in our lives, so it had to be special and it had to be beautiful,’ he said.

Watch footage of the house in action…

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Filed under Self Improvement, Technology

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