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Legal challenge to spinning homes

Utility companies say Côte d’Azur houses that rotate to follow the sun have two street addresses and class as two homes

31 March 2009

PLANS to build rotating houses that follow the sun near Nice are on hold as a court debates whether they class as two homes.

The 14 houses will be aligned to face south-east for the morning sun and a series of solar-powered hydraulic motors will drive gears that rotate the buildings to the west during the day.

Each house will be roofed with photovoltaic solar panels with surplus energy being sold to power company EDF. They will also have an innovative heat wall to retain thermal energy and – as heat rises – act as a ventilation unit by drawing cool air in at the bottom.

Nice mayor Christian Estrosi has said he wants environmental projects to be the focus of the area’s growth in the next 10 years and the éco-vallée is to contain a solar farm, hydro-electric dams and ecologically-friendly housing.

However, the initial April 1 start date for construction has been put back after a legal challenge mounted on behalf of utility companies.

Lawyers representing La Poste, water suppliers and rubbish collectors Veolia, France Télécom, EDF and GDF have taken the local authority to court claiming that as the houses have one address in the morning and finish with another in the evening, they must be considered two separate houses.

If upheld by the Tribunal d'instance in Nice the ruling would mean future home owners would have to deal twice with utility companies – for the same house.

They could also face taxes and local charges which apply to second home owners.

If the houses are given the go-ahead it world be a first for the Côte d’Azur’s sun capital which averages between five and 12 hours of sunshine a day.

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