Wheel Story: The Art In Architecture

Old Coca-Cola crates form stunning, zigzagged wooden floors in an office at the Wheel Story House. Concrete-filled decorative mugs, many marking past Christmases, strengthen its foundation. Bright blue swimming pool tiles frame a hanging mirror. Every corner of the house is entirely unexpected.

It’s not uncommon for lodgings to promise to be one-of-a-kind. Casan Casan in Abelenkpe, Accra, known as the Wheel Story House, is one that can say this without dispute. Each of its 12 apartments, and counting, is wholly individual, crafted from materials its architect, Sammy Ansah, has found over many years.

“Each apartment is made with the materials available,” Sammy explains. “That is why they are all different.”

Sammy began constructing the Wheel Story House in 1996, after collecting 500 wooden cable wheels from Kumasi. He dismantled them and fashioned the original structure, as well as furniture for its rooms. In the time since, he’s completely transformed the House as he’s explored and incorporated an assortment of discarded materials. These range from old shipping containers and car tires to multicolored stones and wine bottles.

Apartments at the Wheel Story House are both homes and an artist’s work. And for Sammy, this work is ever ongoing.

“I am always adding new things and changing things out,” he says. “I am always looking at ways to improve the flats.”

From the scene at the House, this is evident. Sheds in the front yard brim with collections of wood pieces, cardboard, stones, and much more.  Some will find a quick place among the eclectic elements that flow throughout the house. Others will wait until their placement is more opportune. These choices are rather spontaneous and come to Sammy in their own time.

“It is not by plan…I don’t really conceive designs,” Sammy says. “I look at what I have, what fits where, and then decide the way to place it and make it appealing to the eye. That is my talent as an artist.”

The Wheel Story House has played host to visitors from all over the world. Many are long-term residents who have known Sammy’s work since his earliest projects.

While a majority are awed by his work, Sammy admits he’s met some critics.

“A few people over the years have said Sammy, it’s not nice,” he recounts.

This hasn’t fazed him in the slightest, however. The approval of others is not what fuels his work; though he says even his critics have changed their minds. Like all art, it’s a matter of taste.

“People who get it, get it,” he adds.

Whatever opinion one might hold of its aesthetics, it remains uncontestable that the Wheel Story House is an utter original.

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