четвртак, 25. март 2010.

Most Expensive Homes

Celebrities have houses that cost a couple of million and when looking at your own home, you can't help but wonder what would you do with that amount. What type of renovations would you build or what would your dream home look like.

Updown Court in England is by far the most expensive house on the planet. It is standing at about 139 million dollars, or 75 million pounds. Developer Leslie Allen-Vercoe currently owns it, although he has put it up for sale. Originally Prince Sami Gayed of Egypt owned the home, but it was damaged in a fire. When you think about 139 million dollars, it is hard to wrap your head around it. We all have dreams of what we would do with just one million, so when thinking about building a house for that amount the options and features are limitless.

Leslie added numerous elements to the house including 5 swimming pools, a squash court and a double lane bowling alley. The house has 103 rooms, 22 of them being exclusive on-suite bedrooms. There is a tennis court and 24 carat gold leafing on the library floor as well as a 50-seat cinema.

That is all pretty impressive, but if an average person were to spend 75 million pounds on building a house, gold leaf flooring probably wouldn't be on the list of what they wanted. Donald Trump's house in Palm Beach isn't quite 75 million pounds but probably includes more items on the average person's want-list.

His house stands at 125 million dollars and is known as the Waterfront Mansion. Trump bought it in 2004 from a health care executive. It contains 15 bedrooms and 14 bathrooms. For entertainment he has a 4,100 square foot conservatory, a media room, library and 3 pools. Trump's estate is on the top 10 list of most expensive homes in America. His penthouse at the Trump Towers is also on the list. The penthouse costs around 58 million dollars. This is attributed to the panoramic views of the city from the penthouse.

But there is a home that costs considerably less than Trump and Leslie's mansions, but probably has more appeal than the mansions. For 4.9 million dollars, John Travolta's home is probably every little boy's dream. The mansion has been named Jumbolair and is in Ocala. In front of the house is parked a Boeing 707. John also owns two jets and a Gulfstream that are parked in the driveway.

Although the house only has 6 bedrooms and 2 kitchens, it does have a 6500m garage and a 1.4-mile airstrip. If flying is not for you, the estate also holds a pool, giant slide and golf course.

Expensive homes are expensive because the material they use to build the homes is pricey. But if you think about it, would you rather have your own personal airport in your front yard or a 24 carat gold floor in the library? For most of us, we can't have either. But most people that live in expensive homes didn't have it either at some stage, so we can still dream.

Queen Anne style

Queen Anne style homes are often easy to spot, but hard to define. It's partially that elusivity combined with distinctness that makes the style so attractive to buyers and preservationists across the nation. Queen Anne homes are often referred to as the most ornate buildings of the Victorian era, and combine a variety of aesthetics and building methods from the late 1800s and early 1900s.

One of the reasons Queen Anne architecture looks so different from other styles is that it was generally only used on houses. While other styles like Gothic Revival and Federal were being adapted for commercial buildings, churches, and public institutions, Queen Anne architecture was specifically made for upscale houses and mansions, using the latest materials and methods of the machine age. Another developmental difference between Queen Anne and other styles is that it didn't tend to draw on past eras, but instead produced a new building school that helped set the stage for 20th century homes.

The defining characteristics of the Queen Anne style are many and not always consistent, but there are a few key elements. In general, Queen Anne homes use high-pitched, irregular roofs, spindles and lookouts, decorative structure elements such as columns, and covered balconies. Many Queen Anne homes also employ stained glass, turrets, half timbering in the gables similar to the Tudor style, and patterned masonry. Different sub-styles of the Queen Anne movement include Spindled, Free Classic, Half-Timbered, and Patterned Masonry.

While generally very attractive, Queen Anne homes are often derided as being excessive, or "ginger-bread" like. It's true that Queen Anne architecture was the product of a rapidly changing era, and many of the homes included features never seen before, so the criticism holds some weight.

The name for the Queen Anne style is often attributed to an 1852 novel by William Makepeace Thackeray entitled "The History of Henry Esmond, Esq., A Colonel in the Service of Her Majesty Queen Anne," which was popular for decades in the English speaking world. By contrast, stylish and modern furnishings from the historical reign of England's Queen Anne, came to be classified in a style known as "William and Mary."

Norman Architecture

Norman Architecture, named so due to its roots in Normandy, arose in the Middle Ages. It began in the early 11th century and ended by the 12th century, following the Saxon architectural movement and preceding the Gothic movement. Norman architecture is a form of the prevailing Romanesque Architecture that was propagated by the Normans (or Vikings) who conquered England. Its development gave rise to large and impenetrable cathedrals, fortresses, castles, and fortifications.

The archetypal monastery building arose during this movement, with its squat buildings that were either rectangular or circular. For instance, the renowned abbey Mont-Saint-Michel was built in the Norman era. In fact, the majority of Norman Architecture is religious structures, from village churches to royal cathedrals. A hallmark of Norman churches is their cross-like shape, deriving from the Roman basilica pattern. These churches also had bell towers, or campaniles, which were built nearby the main church buildings.

The quintessential medieval castles are also a distinctly Norman innovation. They arose not only in England but also in Scotland, Ireland, Normandy, and even Italy. In Italy, however, Norman features were combined with Byzantine and Arabic styles, which made for less gloominess.

Norman Architecture is actually an outgrowth of Romanesque Architecture, which began in Lombardy, Italy. Romanesque derives much of its architecture from classic Roman styles, such as arches, vaults, columns, and arcades. It greatly utilized the rounded arch, a Roman invention. It also used a great variety of vault styles. The prevailing type was the barrel vault, a curved vault used widely in cloisters.

The building materials used in Norman Architecture mainly included stones, so as to give the buildings greater stability. These stones were uncut because there were no real architectural jobs, such as mason jobs, in the Norman era. Therefore, buildings were made up of large, irregularly shaped stones that contributed to their bulky look.

Norman roofs were vaulted, like their Roman predecessors. Vaults allowed for more balanced weight distribution across the roof. Norman buildings' adornment was minimal, though some architects used their chisels to carve a series of arches into walls. These were not actual arches, but carvings giving a trompe de l'oeil effect. Moreover, some architects carved moldings onto stone surfaces. A minority of architects even became so adroit with their chisel that they sculpted animals onto reliefs over doorways, or tympanums. Arches and columns were also minimally decorated elements. As the Norman movement reached its peak in the 12th century, however, it gave rise to more ornamentation. This ornamentation gradually culminated in the first stained glass windows in the 12th century, directly before the Gothic Architecture took hold.

Norman Architecture is additionally distinguished by very small windows. Before the Gothic movement, architects avoided installing large windows because it increased the chances of building collapse. Therefore, people who resided in Norman buildings were in extremely dim surroundings, using candles as their only source of light. It wasn't until the Gothic period that architects safely installed huge windows to let in an enormous quantity of light, giving cathedrals their celestial quality.

Yet, Romanesque and Norman Architecture also blazed new trails by installing much taller buildings, such as castles and cathedrals, which were the largest structures in Europe at that point. These buildings were usually square and inhabited by guards who worked as night watchmen, scanning the surrounding landscape for intruders.

With these taller buildings came much denser walls to give the needed support to these great heights. Inside these buildings, there were also large columns that bolstered structural support. These walls would become much thinner with the advent of flying buttresses, which arose in the Gothic movement.

One of England's first pieces of Norman Architecture was London's Westminster Abbey. Though this structure is now largely Gothic, it began as a Norman construction. Many Gothic structures, in fact, began as Norman buildings that were later elaborated on by Gothic architects. Many central towers (keeps) on castle and cathedral grounds were also Norman. These square, dense-walled structures were used as dungeons as well as defense fortresses. The Tower of London (also called the White Tower), which served as the royal dungeon, is another penultimate example of Norman Architecture. Like all Romanesque buildings, it was tall in its day, reaching about 90 feet high. It also contained extremely thick walls, spanning about 15 feet wide, to support that height. It is, like many Romanesque buildings, a fortress-like building.

While Gothic Architecture produced extremely tall, magnificent structures, these structures were essentially continuations of Norman Architecture. Gothic Architecture utilized pointed arches rather than Norman rounded arches, along with ribbed vaults that were combinations of Norman barrel vaults. Therefore, Gothic Architecture as we know it may not have taken place without its grounding in Norman Architecture.

Today, most people immediately associate Norman and Romanesque architectural styles with the fairy-tale medieval period. Architects have learned that these castles and cathedrals were not so much royal residences as densely armed fortifications. In truth, most Norman structures have been the sites of much bloodshed and suffering. The "Dark Ages," by which the Middle Ages was alternately known, may have been due in part to the dimness of Norman buildings, as a result of their extremely small windows.

Today's architects are not rebuilding Norman Architecture, except for historical reproduction purposes. Church builders, moreover, take more inspiration from the Gothic period than any other architectural period. However, most architects certainly regard the Norman movement as an architectural watershed. Norman Architecture realized unsurpassed heights and first renewed the magnificence of classical styles. Though taking place in a dark period, it manifested the collective desire to reawaken human greatness, as people perceived it in classical architecture. Part of Norman Architecture's legacy was to have passed on this desire in large measure to the succeeding Renaissance era.

Georgian style

As the wealth of the Colonies increased, there was a gradual introduction of articles of additional comfort, if not those of some luxury, and the architecture reflects these conditions in the construction of more pretentious houses with larger rooms. We also notice crude attempts at introducing architectural moldings and ornamentation, with the occasional use of some color enrichment.

As the products of the printing press brought drawings and descriptions of the works of the well known English architects, such as Sir Christopher Wren, Chambers and others to America, an important and rather sudden advancement was made in the refinement of architectural detail, both on the interior as well as the exterior of houses, and the influence of

Classical art becomes strongly felt. The fireplace now becomes smaller, but great interest is centered about its decoration and the use of academic forms such as pilasters, columns, glass corner protectors, and entablatures, become common, and often unusual and interesting forms were introduced by the local carpenters who often constructed these features from memory.

The plank walls were superseded at first by an informal arrangement of paneling, which in turn gave place to the symmetrical compositions of wall treatment that were typical of Georgian England. The practice of covering the interior partitions with the woodwork, allowing the inside of the exterior walls of the house to be covered in plaster, persisted for many years, and the introduction of wallpaper was a convenient method of enriching the plaster surfaces.

The wood paneling was treated in light colored paints. This unbalanced treatment of the different sides of the same room lasted until the beginning of the nineteenth century. The wide plank floors of the early type of room eventually gave place to oak flooring in strip and parquet patterns. Elements besides English were found in other portions of the country.

Flemish and Dutch features were often prominent in buildings in Southern New York, Long Island and New Jersey, and we find French elements of interior decoration copied in many localities of the South. Due to the greater wealth of the South, attempts at formal architecture are found much earlier than in the North. Along the river banks of Virginia and the Carolinas, the social life developed to a point that was nearly equal of that of the old country. The diaries of visitors from foreign lands gave witness to the manner in which they were entertained by the leading families of these sections.

During the first quarter of the eighteenth century, we find the introduction of new types of furniture and door toppers as well as a change in the design of the earlier details. Copies were made of the English William and Mary, Queen Anne and pre-Chippendale forms. The rush seat chairs, having either a splat or banister-back, became exceedingly popular and were made in great quantities.

The banister-back had a split baluster used as a rail, usually with a flat side toward the front. Rocking chairs and upholstered wing arm chairs were first introduced about 1725. The Windsor chair of England was first made in this country about 1735 and received a much greater development here than it did in England. A great number of forms of the Windsor chair were produced, the principal ones being the loop, hoop, fan, comb and low-back. Windsor rockers were not introduced until the Revolutionary period.

The principal difference between the chairs of this type and those of similar type made in England was in the kinds of wood used and the additional splay given to the legs. The majority of American Windsors were painted and none of the early ones were made in mahogany.

Victorian Rococo

Serious collectors and dealers of antique Victorian furniture are inevitably familiar with the Rococo style of design. The furniture style of Victorian Rococo, sometimes referred to as Victorian Louis XV or Louis Quinze, started gaining its enormous popularity in England during the 1840s.

Rococo style in general, which went well beyond furniture into architecture, painting and other forms of art, originated in France during the previous century and spread from there to other parts of Europe. In England during the 18th century, Rococo was considered "French taste" and did not take hold as an architectural style. However, the incomparable Thomas Chippendale adapted and refined the style for furniture and brought about a transformation of design in English furniture. Some link the development of Rococo in England to the revived interest in Gothic architecture.

As it developed in the Victorian era of the 19th century, it is often called neo-Rococo or Rococo revival, since it was a style revived from the previous century. In furniture it became hugely popular and proved to be the longest lasting influence on the furniture design of the Victorian era. In the 1840s and especially in the decades to follow, almost every furniture manufacturer in England was making Rococo pieces.

The furniture was both visually appealing and comfortable. Carvings and scrolled lines were delicate but typically not overstated or overbearing. Characteristics of the furniture included curved legs, cartouche backs with scrolled rounded contours, and carvings of flowers, leaves, grapes and birds.

The naturalistic carvings are a predominant feature, and anyone who gets involved with the furniture of this era becomes intimately familiar with them. I just recently saw a Rococo sofa that had birds and a birds' nest filled with eggs carved into its gorgeous wooden frame. Like Victorian literature, this may not be for everybody. But for those of us who are taken by it, there's no explaining our admiration.

Anglo-Saxon Architecture

Suffolk offers a great range of activities and attractions to suit everyone's taste and pocket. We offer all sorts of things to do in Suffolk from discovering historic churches and timber framed Guildhalls, tours of one of only 8 Grade 1 listed theatres in the UK, skiing (dry slope!), through to the most up-to-date and thrilling adventure rides at Pleasurewood Hills.

Historic Sites and Buildings

Sites don't get much more Historic than Sutton Hoo, the burial ground of Anglo Saxon Kings. There are plenty of Things to do in Suffolk at Sutton Hoo, which is run by the National Trust and includes an exhibition hall with video and a full size reconstruction of the ship's burial chamber. There are Guided Tours and special events during the summer season.

Staying with the Anglo Saxons, West Stow Anglo-Saxon Village is a unique reconstruction of an Anglo Saxon Village built on an original archaeological site. Costume even bring the Village to life during the holidays, and a visitor centre displays finds from the site. Tel 01284 728718 for details

Suffolk has a few well preserved and impressive CASTLES including Framlingham Castle, and Orford Castle which are both run by English Heritage. Orford was the great keep of Henry 11. You can visit the castle today and explore the maze of rooms and passageways with a free audio tour. You can also enjoy spectacular views over the beautiful Orford Ness in this lovely area of Suffolk.

Hedingham Castle is on the Suffolk/Essex border and is a great place to spend the day. Hedingham has the finest Norman Keep, at 110 feet high, was built c.1140 by Aubrey de Vere and is still owned by one of his descendants, The Honourable Thomas Lindsay and his wife Virginia. There are four floors to explore, including a magnificent Banqueting Hall spanned by a remarkable 28 foot arch, one of the largest Norman arches in England. A visit to the castle and its beautiful grounds is ideal for a family outing, and during the summer there are a variety of special events which bring its colourful history alive.

Suffolk retains many fine examples of Medieval, Tudor, Georgian and Victorian architecture, sometimes within walking distance. For example, Long Melford is a stunning example of a Tudor House, situated close to Melford Hall, another Tudor Manor house but in a very different style. Holy Trinity Church nearby is Medieval, and there are several lovely private residences in Long Melford dating from the Georgina and Victorian times.

Gothic Architecture

Gothic architecture is a style that began in France during the 12th century. It was particularly associated with cathedrals and other churches. In Florence, Italy, the Gothic style became widespread in the 15th century AD. England could see a series of Gothic revivals in the mid 19th century and it spread across other parts of Europe. Across America, in the 20th century, this style was largely used for ecclesiastical and university structures.

Gothic style emphasizes the vertical plane and features largely skeletal stone structures. Gothic architecture structures have large stained-glass windows that allow more light to pass through. These windows are usually the point of focus to design other structures of the building. Usually, buildings have extensive glass windows, sharply pointed spires, cluster columns, flying buttresses, ribbed vaults, pointed arches using the ogive shapes, and inventive sculptural detail. Flying buttresses were used as a means to support higher ceilings and slender columns.

Building materials used in Gothic architecture are usually native stones. But in Northern Germany, Scandinavia, and Northern Poland, where native stones were unavailable, simplified provincial Gothic churches were built out of bricks. Gothic brick buildings were associated with Hanseatic league, an alliance of trading cities of Northern Europe. There are over a hundred brick Gothic castles across Northern Poland built by the Teutonic Knights.

The French Gothic style has different sub-styles, including Rayonnant and Flamboyant styles. The Gothic cathedrals of France are highly decorated with statues on the outside and paintings on the inside. They are built over several successive periods and the dominant architectural style changes throughout a particular building. In England, Gothic style was more widely revived as a decorative, whimsical alternative.

The Gothic style that prevailed in the 20th century, known as Neo-Gothic, is found mainly in modern churches and college buildings. Although it was considered inappropriate, Gothic style was used for early steel skyscrapers, jailhouses, and towers.