Incredible fortress homes

John Giuffo
This Transformer-like home in Warsaw, Poland can turn from concrete fortress to glass house.
Photos: KWK Promes

Built in 1994 for an art-collector couple keen on protecting their investments, the concrete-and-steel stronghold of Hollywood’s 2260 Sunset Plaza Drive has the sort of security system one might expect to see in an FBI building.

The entryway, the gates and the interior spaces—even the bedrooms—require a keycard to gain access. High-resolution security cameras keep watch throughout the entire building. And in case of emergency, there’s an industrial-grade home generator and elaborate fire suppression system—all of which can be operated by smartphone.

In Pictures: Incredible fortress homes

In Pictures: Incredible Fortress Homes
In Pictures: Incredible Fortress Homes

On the market for $11.9 million (recently upped from $8.9 million), the home is being put up for sale by an internationally famous DJ. “I can’t say who he is,” says Santiago Arana, who is handling the sale for Partners Trust Real Estate, “but I can say that he is on the level of David Guetta.”

Not all fortress homes rely on fancy camera systems and state-of-the-art technology. Chateau Artisan, for example, uses the time-tested security feature of a water moat to keep would-be intruders out. Architect Charles Sieger, who designed and lives in the expansive home—maintained with the help of live-in staff—the home was a test of his own creativity.

“It was specifically modeled as an experiment on my part,” says Sieger. “And I did that just to see if I could do it.” Heavy metal gates guard the single driveway in or out of the house on its man-made island, which sits in the center of a 14-acre property surrounded by thick hedgerows. There are also regular and infrared cameras on the main road, and cameras on all of the doors—perhaps a concession to the modern security needs of a 21st century mansion. “I was going to have the bridge be a drawbridge,” says Sieger, “but it cost too much to build.”

Read on for more fortress homes ready for any invasion:

The Creech House
Whitefish, Montana
Price: $16 million

The home is a ski lodge and high-tech fortress all in one.
Photo: Sotheby's International Realty

Many mountain cabins provide breathtaking views and easy access to the slopes, but for some devoted ski-aficionados, that’s not enough. With its elaborate electronic-control features and a high-tech security system, the home makes up in digital “fortress” features what it lacks in concrete walls. On-site and smartphone-accessible security features can control home operations such as a full view of the exterior, a detailed alarm system, the ability to contact police and fire departments remotely and checking locks on windows. Add to that being able to keep tabs on the activity in most rooms.

“It’s a nice little feature to see your what your kids are doing,” says owner Kay Creech. And with 16 rooms, seven bedrooms (with the ability to sleep 34 if necessary), 10 bathrooms, and four decks that open up to views of Glacier National Park, any tool to help you keep track of the kids is essential. The home is currently on the market for $16 million.

Transforming Concrete Fortress
Warsaw, Poland

The Warsaw home with its concrete wall retracted.
Photo: KWK Promes

Like a Transformer with a minimalist non-robot mode, this Warsaw concrete compound, designed by architect Robert Konieczny of KWK Promes, can convert itself from an open floor-to-ceiling glass window home into a concrete-clad cube in seconds.

You’ve heard of a panic room? This is a panic home with a panoramic view and lockdown mode. Once the 50-foot retractable concrete wall shutters are closed, the drawbridge (yes, a drawbridge), and the 20-foot metal roll-down gate closes off the glass anterior of the home, this concrete cube can ride out almost any scenario you throw at it. As far as owners who value their security above all else, this home is the gold standard of privacy and protection.

The Fortress Home
Los Angeles, California
Price: $11.9 million

Getting from room to room in this L.A. house will require a security card.

Located on a ridge high up in the Hollywood Hills, a steel and concrete sanctuary sits, blocked off from the road behind it, and essentially inaccessible from every other direction. The home features views of the Los Angeles sprawl beneath it (an especially inspiring view at night, when the city becomes a string of electric pearls).

There's an elaborate security system that includes cameras in almost every corner of the property, and a key-access system on nearly every door and gate, requiring that the owner carry his or her card or risk sleeping on the sofa. And all of it, of course, can be remotely accessed by smartphone. City regulations have since banned the construction of such homes, so the property, currently on the market for $11.9 million is truly a rare find.

Malator House
Pembrokeshire, United Kingdom

The "Teletubby House" is built into the ground by the bay.

Like a chameleon peeking out from beneath the grass, the Malator (or the Teletubby House, as it’s colloquially known because of its striking similarity to the home featured in the famous British children’s TV show) blends almost seamlessly into the lush green hills surrounding its perch over St. Brides Bay in Wales.

Most of the home is located underground, featuring an earthen roof that perfectly emulates the hills around it, with the glass front facing the bay (the only hint that there’s a home hidden somewhere below). Like a Hobbit hole of contemporary experimental architecture, the Malator was designed and built in 1998 by avant-garde architectural firm Future Systems, now known as Amanda Levete Architects after a company split in 2008.

Chateau Artisan
Homestead, Florida
Price: $10.9 million

Anyone wanting to invade this Florida home will have to get past the moat.
Photo: Charles Sieger

Charles Sieger, half of the Miami architectural firm Sieger Suarez, made a name by designing and building creative high-rise residential and commercial buildings. But when it came to designing his own home, Sieger instead drew his inspiration from the French and British chateaus (hence the home’s name), medieval castles, and manor houses.

He dug out a giant circular moat (a time-tested invasion deterrent) to surround the $10.9 million home, built one road leading in and out of the home, put up a heavy metal gate, and installed regular and infrared cameras along the road and around the house. “In particular, I bought the property because it was on the side of a canal, which also provides protection” says Sieger.

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