The whimsical and inspiring “Casa Neverlandia” in Austin looks like something Salvador Dali would have designed if he had grown up in Morocco and spent his summers studying eastern philosophy at a Tahitian safari camp. In fact, it is the amazing residence and creation of one James Talbot, drawing on his 40 years of remarkable life experiences.
Talbot grew up in a world-traveling military family, went to architecture school, lived in a treehouse in Honduras, and owned a playscape design company, elements from all of which can be seen in his wonderfully bizarre house. The three-story, mosaic-clad home is both a homage to his past (bricks and tiles embedded throughout the exquisite masonry exterior have come from his former homes) and a place to suit his present spiritual and physical needs.
The home’s DIY features include a Rumford fireplace, a vinyl record-clad music room, a two-story Indonesian-style A-frame ping pong room trimmed in bamboo, a city-view lookout tower accessible by an Indiana Jones-style bridge, multiple fire poles for a more fun and efficient way to change levels, and an ingenious system of “Whispermaphones,” a no-tech intercom system made from PVC piping.
Other features include his fascinating indoor/outdoor workshops and a gallery for Talbot’s bead and mixed-media art. “My art intends to put people in touch with their highest selves,” says Talbot. The house has a number of green features including solar panels, greywater recycling, and (to the shock of all Texans), no air conditioning.