Villa Girasole – in Mezzavilla di Marcellise, only thirteen kilometers from Verona – is a rotating house designed in the 1930s by engineer Angelo Invernizzi.
Invernizzi wanted his home to embody the outlandish concept of a building that could turn to keep up with the sun, just like a sunflower. He probably got the idea from Filippo Tommaso Marinetti’s futuristic vision, or by attending Venice’s Biennale Arte. His expertise – he was a railway engineer – allowed him to realize his idea was not so outlandish after all. He could make his dream come true.
Between 1929 and 1935, Villa Girasole was built with the help of engineers and architects who were his friends – Romolo Carapacchi for all mechanical aspects, Ettore Fagiuoli for the architectural design, Fausto Saccorotti for the interiors – and thanks to the talent of a team of sculptors, painters, and carpenters.
The house moves at a “speed” of four millimeters per second, and takes nine hours and twenty minutes to complete one rotation. All it needs are an oil engine, a central pivot, and a set of tracks. The strange, future-forward, L-shaped building is covered in aluminum and always faces the sun.
And Villa Girasole was not just the vagary of a future-loving engineer. At the time of its construction, an article appeared on “L’Arena” stating that Invernizzi “wanted to carry out this arduous experiment both to alleviate local unemployment and to give his small town a reason to stand out, a tourist attraction, which otherwise it would not have at all”.