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XANADU
The Defunct House Of The Future

In Kissimmee on U.S. Highway 192 there is a weird abandoned structure that looks like a cluster of giant igloos. These white domed pods built in 1983 by architect Roy Mason are what was to be the House of the Future, a 6,240-square foot tourist attraction offering a look at a fully automated home. It cost about 300,000 dollars to build and featured automatic plumbing systems, video-walled suites, computerized kitchen, and various other futuristic ideas.

The House of the Future, designed to be as maintenance free as possible, featured a wiring and plumbing system in the walls to allow for reconfiguration of the whole house. The kitchen was designed with four microcomputers that acted as a family dietician by planning meals according to a person’s height, weight, age, and level of activity. An automatic chef would move food from the refrigerator to the microwave to the table. The system would also play background music themed to the type of food and would automatically keep track of the grocery inventory. The house also had its own greenhouse with a computer that monitored water levels, soil contents, sunlight, humidity, and ventilation of plants. For food that had to be bought from a grocery store there was the tele-shopping system with its own video-catalog of grocery items that could be purchased and paid for through a link with the Xanadu’s tele-banking system.

To reduce commuting to and from work, Xanadu also featured the first work-at-home office with electronic mail, access to managing investments, information systems, tele-banking, bookkeeping, and news services.

Xanadu even had its own family learning center with four talking micro-computers and educational software. With this house you did not even need to see a shrink, it had its own interactive psychoanalysis system. There was even a bio-feedback device that could regulate background music and project abstract patterns on the walls according to your moods. Hey, with a house like this why would you ever need to leave it?

Even with all its modern gadgetry, Xanadu still needed electricity. A special micro-computer monitored all energy use which could be programmed into the household budget to regulate consumption. The 5-inch thick walls of the structure were constructed for energy efficiency by inflating balloons and spraying them inside and out with insulation foam. It was far more energy efficient than normal houses and in recent years some builders have adopted a similar style of construction.

The House of the Future featured an intercom throughout, a sunken dining room with a circular table that seated twelve people, faucets that turned-on automatically when a glass was placed beneath them, a Jacuzzi using water heated by solar energy, a sensory-deprivation bathtub that would give the bather the equivalent of four hours sleep if only used for ten minutes and closets that would clean clothes using ultra-violet light and ultra-sound. The place also had a “weather room” or environmental chamber in which a resident could experience a variety of artificially created weather conditions like wind, winter, sun, or rain. In 1983, Xanadu was certainly ahead of its time but today some of its technology is common in new homes.

During the brief time that Xanadu was open, tourists were charged 5.95 to tour the fifteen rooms of this weird home. When I visited the place long after it was abandoned, it was amazingly in good shape although the inside was scattered with debris left by transients. It was a little difficult to find my way around the inside because it is a little like a maze. It is still fully carpeted and a few items of furniture were still there. For the past few years homeless people have taken up residence in Xanadu. During my exploration of the place there were a couple of transients who had set up housekeeping in the living room. Today Xanadu is just another abandoned place left behind in the dust of progressing technology.

Weird Florida

 

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