black beach house sam bell

Futuristic is always a relative way to describe something. After all, the future rapidly becomes the past and architectural styles evolve as quickly as the technologies that make them possible (or impossible). Sam Bell’s Mushroom House is no exception to the rule. It is contextual in a way, tucked into the waterside cliffs of San Diego, and is certainly someplace most of us would love to live but it is also somehow dated.

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Black Beach Pavilion on beach

Built in the 1950s, it has elements of a fortress as well as a fair ride ride. Certainly, though, it provides privacy on an otherwise publicly accessible beach and no doubt has amazing views out into the ocean. Perhaps the strangest element of all is the elevator connecting it to a larger house on the clifftop above.

Oh, and by the way – you can hike to it! Check out photos and more info at Hidden San Diego.

black beach underneath view

Here’s some more info from Architectuul:

“The oceanfront house, called The Bell Pavilion, also nicknamed The Mushroom House, was designed and built by Dale Naegle in 1968 for Sam Bell of Bell’s Potato Chips. Naegle was instructed to build a futuristic-looking, earthquake-proof structure as a guest house. The tram that carried people from the roadside down to the house was eventually taken out of operation, leaving visitors to trek to the house on foot. The Bell Pavilion was part of a larger building project that started in 1955 with a house at the top of the cliff which was demolished in the 1990s. The property has a 300 foot cliff, including an isolated beach only accessible at low tide through rugged rocks.”

“Faced with the extraordinary challenge of developing access to the beach and guest retreat the owner assembled a design team to innovate. Elevator Electric Co. designer and builder of the 1st glass elevator in San Diego designed and constructed the 300 foot tramway. Because of the unusual nature of the project, workmen walked off of the job, requiring the three owners of the tram company to install the last 100 feet of the tramway railing with help from Jack Schultz.  The remaining Pavilion (guest retreat) and tram are owned by Buzz Woolley, an entrepreneur from San Diego.”