Places that Work: A Guest Tower

‘Tis visiting season. People are traveling to see friends and family members while the weather is generally pleasant. Humans are territorial animals, however, which is one of the reasons that those visits are seldom tension-free. We feel most comfortable when we have a clearly defined physical territory, and houseguests who leave their own territories at home, can disrupt those of their hosts.

In South-Eastern Ohio, Greg Campbell and Jean Marie Cackowski-Campbell have designed and built a freestanding tower on their property for guests. It’s a place that works because it acknowledges that sometimes continual togetherness can be too much.

The tower is set across the deck from the main house and has a total of 521 square feet of living space, spread across 3 octagonal floors – octagons were selected to optimize the useable area on each floor. The space is heated and comes complete with a bathroom and incinerating toilet. The top floor is a sitting room with tremendous views out over the countryside. It’s a restorative space that provides the privacy that any guest needs to reflect and restock their mental energy before and after socializing.

Not everyone has the option of housing guests in a nearby tower – but just thinking about humans’ yen for a space to call their own, can help diffuse tense situations and keep visits with friends and family members cordial.

Sally Augustin, PhD, is a principal at Design with Science . She is also the editor of Research Design Connections and the author of Place Advantage: Applied Psychology for Interior Architecture (Wiley, 2009). She can be reached at

Categories: Design, Uncategorized