Holiday home of the week: the retro-futuristic Prairie House in Oklahoma

A 1960s legend likened to a ‘shaggy buffalo’

The picturesque prairie landscapes of Oklahoma inspired the design of this sculptural timber home.

Prairie House was built in 1961 with low-fi materials by Herb Greene, who was influenced by organic architecture, a term coined by Frank Lloyd Wright to describe structures that embody their surroundings.

Part rustic timber cabin, part retro-futuristic film set, the asymmetrical house looks different from every angle and its form brings to mind a ‘primordial creature, shelter, protective hide and futurist object’, according to Greene.

Bulky, low-lying, and covered in overlapping cedar boards evocative of scales or feathers, the two-bedroom house has an animal-like form. Life magazine dubbed it the Prairie Chicken House while others have described it as a ‘shaggy buffalo’ and a ‘weird, dishevelled bird’. Its slightly warped shape gives it the appearance of a centuries-old, weather-beaten prairie dwelling.

Prairie House by Herb Green in Oklahoma
An archive image of Prairie House. Photography: Bob Bowlby

The building is set in prairie land four miles from the city of Norman, and can be rented from £1,443 a week via booking.com. Accessed via a ramp at one side, it has a fish-shaped plan, with a wide opening at the front and a narrow rear, which was designed to help reduce the impact of the harsh west winds, as well as capture the sunset views.

Set over three floors, Prairie House’s abstract, open interior is clad in cedar shingles, which glow amber in artificial and natural light. A thin metal ladder on the first floor leads up to a jagged hatch in the floor of the top-floor living space, which brings light down through the centre of the house.

Prairie House by Herb Green in Oklahoma
One of Herb Greene’s sketches of the Prairie House. Courtesy of herbgreene.org

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