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"[Science fiction] is the one literary medium left in which we have a free hand. We can do any damn thing we please."
- Alfred Bester

Psychotropic House  
  Buildings designed to sense, and mirror, the psychological state of their owners.  

Shopping for just the right home in Vermillion Sands is complicated by the fact that houses are psychotropic; there is always something left of the previous owners.

...it consisted of six huge aluminum-shelled spheres suspended like the elements of a mobile from an enormous concrete davit. The largest sphere contained the lounge, the others successively smaller and spiraling upward into the air, the bedrooms and kitchen...

Stamers, the agent, left us sitting in the car... and switched the place on (all the houses in Vermillion Sands, it goes without saying, were psychotropic). There was a dim whirring, and the spheres tipped and began to rotate, brushing against the undergrowth.

...I got out and walked over to the entrance, the main sphere slowing as I approached, uncertainly steering a course toward me, the smaller ones following.

...As I stepped forward, it jerked away, almost in alarm, the entrance retracting and sending a low shudder through the rest of the spheres.

It's always interesting to watch a psychotropic house try to adjust itself to strangers, particularly those at all guarded or suspicious. The responses vary, a blend of past reactions to negative emotions, the hostility of the previous tenants...

...Stamers was fiddling desperately with the control console recessed into the wall behind the door, damping the volume down as low as possible...

He smiled thinly at me. "Circuits are a little worn. Nothing serious..."

Technovelgy from The Thousand Dreams of Stellavista, by J.G. Ballard.
Published by Amazing Fact and Science Fiction in 1962
Additional resources -

Some psychotropic houses also had full control of their internal shape, due to the use of plastex, sort of a combination of plaster and latex.


('The Thousand Dreams of Stellavista' by JG Ballard)

As houses become more complex in our modern era, with programming to control heating, lights, security, media shown on screens and music played in rooms, it seems possible that, when you walk into a previously owned home, it will indeed reflect some of the personality of the previous owner.

If you are fascinated with the idea of a house that responds to its owner, check out the float home from Frank Herbert's 1969 novel Whipping Star.

Compare to the adjustable house from Gather, Darkness! (1943) by Fritz Leiber.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from The Thousand Dreams of Stellavista
  More Ideas and Technology by J.G. Ballard
  Tech news articles related to The Thousand Dreams of Stellavista
  Tech news articles related to works by J.G. Ballard

Psychotropic House-related news articles:
  - FLARE Creates 'Skin' For Buildings
  - 555 KUBIK - If A House Was Dreaming
  - Kinetic Buildings And Psychotropic Houses

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San Fran's Tiny Homeless
Rotating House in Bosnia

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