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Posts Tagged ‘tower house’

Grand Canyon Desert View Watchtower (click to enlarge)

Grand Canyon Desert View Watchtower (click to enlarge)


View of eastern Grand Canyon from Desert View (click to enlarge)

View of eastern Grand Canyon from Desert View (click to enlarge)


Looking up inside the Watchtower (click to enlarge)

Looking up inside the Watchtower (click to enlarge)


Kabotie Mural in Desert View Watchtower

Kabotie Mural in Desert View Watchtower


“Build a structure that provides the widest possible view of Grand Canyon yet harmonizes with its setting: this was architect Mary Colter’s goal when the Fred Harvey Company hired her in 1930 to design a gift shop and rest area at Desert View. Colter’s answer was the Watchtower.

A perfectionist, Colter scrutinized every detail, down to the placement of nearly every stone. Each stone was handpicked for size and appearance. Weathered faces were left untouched to give the tower an ancient look. With a lavish, highly publicized dedication ceremony, the Watchtower opened in May 1933.

The Indian Watchtower is at the eastern end of the south rim of the Grand Canyon. From a distance the building’s silhouette looks like the Anasazi watchtower it was meant to mimic. In actual size the tower is considerably larger than any known Anasazi tower. In plan the structure is composed of one enormous circle at the north, a small circle at the south, and gently arced forms connecting the two. The largest circle and the arced portions are the sections of that building that are just one story in height. The smaller circular plan is for the tower itself, more than five stories high. The building sits out on a promontory overlooking the Grand Canyon.

The most noteworthy aspect of the exterior is the stonework–a variety of uncoursed rubble below and coursed sandstone above, with decorative patterns of triangular stones adding architectural interest directly below the tower’s parapet and other bands of color masonry adding even more visual interest.”

Text and image source: Grand Canyon Desert View Watchtower
Image source: Field Studies in the Grand Canyon Region
Image source: Adam Schallau.com
Image source: Flickr

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Castle Tower House (click to enlarge)

Castle Tower House (click to enlarge)


The Castle Tower House is largely the same plan as the 2-story Roundhouse Above Survival Shelter with a crenellated roof design. In the earthbag castle I’m currently designing it’s used as a corner ‘watch tower’. Its primary function in ‘peace time’ is a guesthouse or office. Compare this version to the original plan to see how a few minor changes can make a lot of difference in appearance.

Specifications: 20’ DIA roundhouse, 314 sq. ft. interior first floor, 252 sq. ft. interior loft, 314 sq. ft. interior survival shelter plus pantry), 880 total square foot interior, Footprint: 23′ DIA, 23′ x 31′ survival shelter

Description: Every castle worth its name has to have at least one underground survival shelter. In this case it’s underneath the Tower House. It’s prudent to have a safe place to go to in case of emergencies, and what better place than your basement. Hurricanes, tornadoes, blizzards and other natural disasters are all too common. While others panic and run for last minute preparations, you can calmly retreat to your basement (through a hidden trap door) that’s wisely stocked with everything you need to ride out the disaster.

More details on the Earthbag Survival Shelter that’s also sold separately (an excellent starter project and one of my most popular designs).

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Earthbag Tower House (click to enlarge)

Earthbag Tower House (click to enlarge)


This intriguing tower house slopes from 21 feet interior diameter at ground level to 13 feet diameter at the third floor observation deck. It’s perfect for environments with high winds and good views. Total interior square feet: 705

Towers such as this, including my Native Spirit design, are best built with earthbags filled with scoria or pumice. This provides insulated walls that are rot proof, fireproof, lightweight and easy to build.

More information is on my Earthbag House Plans site, that has over 100 small, affordable house plans.

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