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July 23, 2022

House for the Atomic Age, 1953

In 1953, a swimming pool that became an automatic decontamination bath during an A-bomb attack was one of the features of a home that Hal B. Hayes, Hollywood contractor, was completing for himself. In the hillside next to the swimming pool he’s building an underground sanctuary that you reach by diving into the pool.

His house was designed to “bring the outdoors indoors” for ordinary peaceful living, yet has a structure built to resist great destructive forces. Several of the walls were completely of glass that would be swept away by a powerful shock wave, but could later be replaced. A continuation of his living-room rug was pulled up to shroud the glass wall in that room when a button was pressed.

Other walls of the house have a fluted design to resist shock wave and a fireproof exterior surface of Gunite.

A garden growing in half a foot of soil on the flat roof provides insulation against extreme heat or shock. All exposed wood, inside and outside of the house, was fire-resistant redwood coated with fire-retarding paint. In addition to the underground sanctuary, equipped with bottled oxygen, there was a bombproof shelter in the house itself, consisting of a large steel-and-con-crete vault containing a sitting room and bathroom. Other features of the home include a three-story indoor tree.

Fireplace in front yard is built into side of hill. Lava appearance of hill comes from stippled Gunite.

Television set is built into huge tree trunk fitted into wall of living room. Dials are mounted at side.

Tree trunks and limbs are used for furniture, here support the glass top of table which Hayes is using.

Solid wall is fluted to resist shock waves. Fragile glass front could be replaced easily after blast.

Cutaway shows approach to underground sanctuary via swimming pool. Hayes figures that any radio-active contamination on a person's body would be washed off while swimming to the entrance of the sanctuary.

Pieces of driftwood against backgrounds of swirled linoleum paste form striking decoration in master bedroom.

Smoke from midroom fireplace is caught by umbrella canopy, drawn up the chimney by fan mounted inside.

Tree inside house extends full three stories, here passes through large floor window of louvered glass.

Main entrance of house is through tunnel visible at left. Glass walls at right protect an orchid grotto.

Car is parked on cantilevered steel tracks which overhang cliff below house. Space is at a premium.

Bomb shelter in the house itself has strong steel shutters which can be closed in case of air attack.




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