A Unique Circular Rotating Hilltop House in San Diego

The ever-adventurous Tom Scott traveled to San Diego to meet with Al Johnstone, the owner and designer of a unique hilltop rotating circular home. Johnstone explained that the couple purchased the land and was so impressed with the scenery that he wanted to build a circular house to capture as much of the view as possible. He then got the idea to make it rotate so that the view could be seen from any room. His wife Janet was completely on board with the plan.

I’m trying to figure out what to build. I said, ‘you know, why not a round house? That way, more rooms will have more view’. And my wife said, ‘fine’. Then I thought, some rooms still have to look at the mountain. So I said, ‘why don’t we rotate it?’ To my surprise, she said, ‘fine’! And I thought, crap, I’ve got to figure out how to do that!

Johnstone further explained that while the house rotates, items such as plumbing and gas do not.

In a lot of rotating buildings, it’s only part of the floor that rotates. The things that require plumbing, like the kitchen and bathroom, don’t move at all. But here, the sinks and toilets and electrical sockets all rotate as part of the house.

To ensure safety, Johnstone used a combination of slip rings, seals, and sensors.

Obviously you don’t want to mix the gas, the gray water, the sewer, the drinking water. So I designed a slip ring for those services….This is fixed. We grooved it, it’s about a 3″ by 3″ groove all the way around. Top groove is sewer. The next groove is gray water. The next groove is drinking water. The bottom groove is gas. And there are holes drilled through this from the sewer, from the gray water and so forth, They’re all separate holes that come out the bottom. Then there’s a piece that comes down the outside.This piece rotates with the house.

The house is currently up for sale.

This unique and innovative property that can be best described as an architectural marvel showcasing an incredible combination of luxury, functionality, and technological advancements. Fixed as the highest home on Mount Helix, one of the most distinctive features of this home is its 5,100 sqft rotating second floor structure with 3,700 sqft of rotating living space, a 1,400 sqft rotating deck and 1,200 sqft fixed deck and includes top-of-the-line appliances, 43 solar panels, smart home technology, security systems, fire and earthquake protection and much mor

Rotating Home
Lori Dorn
Lori Dorn

Lori is a Laughing Squid Contributing Editor based in New York City who has been writing blog posts for over a decade. She also enjoys making jewelry, playing guitar, taking photos and mixing craft cocktails.