Sunday, April 27, 2014

Abandoned Places: Xanadu Houses

I'm not gonna lie; X was... difficult. I mean, X is always difficult, but it was difficult enough for this theme that I began to think about cheating. But then! Then I found the Xanadu houses! The Xanadu houses were designed as homes of the future in the late 70s and early 80s. The had computer controlled environments, were ergonomically designed, and, most importantly, were made of polyurethane foam. The foam was meant to allow for quick construction.

Of the three Xanadu show homes that were built, the one built in Kissimmee, Florida, not far from EPCOT, proved to be the most popular, drawing over 1000 visitors a day at its height. However, due to the quickness with which the technology in the houses became obsolete (they used the Commodore 64 (can you imagine trying to run a house, today, from a Commodore 64?)), they never became more than a curiosity. Which turned out to be a good thing in all likelihood as the polyurethane proved to be not very resistant to mold and mildew. After being abandoned for several years at the end of the 90s, the Kissimmee house, the only one left at that point, was overgrown with mold. It was finally demolished about a decade ago.

Unfortunately, I could find no photos of the houses that are available for use, but you can see a gallery attached to the short article about the homes at io9.

For today's photos of abandoned places, I'm actually going to share some images of things that (mostly) have no place to be or I liked but did not cover. Enjoy!
 Above and below two photos by Klugschnacker under the linked license.

This next item is not exactly abandoned, but...
Those are views of the Aral Sea, what was once one of the four largest lakes on the planet. In the 60s, the Russians began diverting water from the various rivers that fed the sea. The view on the left is from 1989, the right from 2008. As you can see, the sea is almost non-existent at this point. It's considered one of the worst environmental disasters in history. Here is what it has left behind:
Aral photos by Martjin Munneke and used under the linked license.

A few other images that escaped posting:


  1. I remember those hype about those houses. They seemed very space age at the time.

  2. I loved the pics of the Xanadu - it looks like a mushroom house to begin with so Im not surprised mold and fungus liked it too! lol So weird (yet typical) about the house's demise. People always think they know everything, and then trouble springs up and surprises them. The car shells were sad. I love the ending pics, especially the place that looks like a brick school and the church. Awesome!

  3. I remember the Xanadu houses. I'm sure Olivia Newton John on eternal playback was a negative as well.
    What a shame about the Aral Sea.

  4. So, yeah, hubby and I just went on a search for those houses. We couldn't find them. Very disappointing. I really wanted to see them. That lead us on a search for Tandy because of Commadore 64. All these memories came flooding through. It's been quite the time trip this morning! Thanks, Andrew haha

  5. I toured the one in the Wisconsin Dells in the 80's. I remember thinking it was the most awesome house ever! It had tunnels between the kids rooms and was run by a computer! Woo!

    We went back to the Dells last year and didn't find the house - I'd wanted to show my kids this novelty that never took off. This explains why it was gone.

  6. Following up on Jean's comment: I live about 1 hour from the Dells and I remember DESPERATELY wanting to go to "Xanadu: The House Of Foam" when I was a kid. We never did, though. We'd drive by it whenever we went there and I'd stare longingly, dreaming of a day when I would live in a dome-shaped computer-run house.

    We did see "Tommy Barlett's Robot World," a robot-space-themed tour run by a guy who was well-known for putting on waterski shows. It was more or less exactly what you'd expect of such a thing.

  7. I spent a fair amount of time in Kissimmee and remember the Xanadu house. Pity I never took a pic. I didn't actually tour it, but it was quite near where we were staying.

    It's not just a shame about the Aral Sea I consider it pretty disgusting that the area has been ruined to such an extent.

  8. What a nightmare to try running a house on a Commodore 64; it'd overheat every couple hours and then you'd be left sitting around until it cooled off.

  9. I'm going to check out that link. I'm curious. I'm sure they were slightly off from how it will be...but the "smart home" is already on the horizon. You walk in and it automatically knows how you want the lighting and temperature throughout the house.

  10. So I could have a house that plays Pacman and Donkey Kong? Why am I just finding out about this now?

  11. Hello there. Interesting post and photos. Thanks for sharing.
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  12. I remember when I was in third grade a girl I had a crush on wheeled up to me in her roller skates and kissed me on the cheek. I had no idea what happened until I was told she'd just seen Xanadu. So, I always hated the movie, but felt a fondness for it just the same. I'm glad those future homes worked things out by getting to use the name.

  13. Anne: I suppose they'd still seem that way.

    Lexa: I think we didn't realize, yet, back in the 80s, how quickly technology would become obsolete.

    Alex C: It's even more a shame that the world has allowed Russia to continue to deplete the area.

    Rajiv: Good!

    Elsie: Did you try the link?

    Jean: I always wanted a house with tunnels when I was a kid. And secret passages.

    Briane: I don't know about the dome shape, but I expect new houses within the next few years to be more and more computer enabled.

    Jo: It is pretty horrible. And irresponsible.

    Pat: I know! I mean, I remember when we thought Commodores were the coolest things, but they're not even pocket calculators anymore.

    Stephanie: Yeah, and you can have control them through your phone when you're away from home. It will be cool until your house gets hacked.

    ABftS: Probably because of the beer.

    EG: Thank you.

    Rusty: I've still never seen Xanadu.

  14. Wow. The seventies and eighties were even more frightening than I imagined. A Commodore 64. (shudder)

    Chalk this one up to "what were they thinking?"

  15. Homes of the future . . . how neat. I live in Florida (and have been living here for most of my life) and I didn't even know about the Xanadu house in Kissimmee! It's too bad that it was demolished because I would love to go and take pictures of it, even all covered in mold and mildew.

  16. Jeanne: Hey! That was the height of technology at the time!

    Chrys: I'm not sure there would be anything left even if they hadn't demolished it. At least not anything recognizable.

  17. That's amazing and sad about the Aral Sea. What craziness!

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  18. The Aral Sea pictures are depressing. O.o

  19. Lee: It is crazy and sad. And uncaring.

    Rebekah: They're very depressing.