Try a Sound Bath in the Integratron, the Mojave’s Otherworldly Building

Pickin’ up those good vibrations.

Tucked deep in the southeastern reaches of the sun-baked California desert, the Integratron is a mid-century modernist structure with supernatural origins. Once a draw for UFO enthusiasts who gathered at nearby Giant Rock for an annual convention, these days it attracts the Coachella crowd.

Arctic Monkeys recorded its 2008 track “Secret Door” here, while Robin Pecknold of Fleet Foxes and Anthony Bourdain both made sonic pilgrimages to bathe in this citadel of sound. Pecknold told Rolling Stone magazine “it was the closest thing to a psychedelic experience” he had ever had, while Bourdain was equally enthused during an episode of No Reservations.

The circular building is run by three sisters who have created a far-out experience: meditative sound baths performed with quartz-crystal singing bowls, keyed to chakras for inner peace. The building’s parabolic shape and all-wood interiors make it acoustically perfect: When two people stand exactly across the 17-metre-wide chamber from one another, their whispers clearly reverberate across the space; but if they’re just a few centimetres off, they won’t hear a thing.

December 20, 2019
A top view of the circular structure of the Integratron
   Photo: Carl Rice

According to its creator, aviation engineer George Van Tassel, the Integratron would allow visitors to rejuvenate, levitate and, yes, even travel through time. Van Tassel claimed that a meeting with a 700-year-old alien from Venus named Solganda, who was standing at the foot of his bed one night, led him to build the structure. Solganda reportedly invited him onto a spaceship and divulged – via telepathy – architectural plans for the machine.

The Integratron’s location was chosen with exacting precision: in alignment with the Great Pyramids of Giza, at the intersection of abnormal geomagnetic forces and under strict guidance from the alien. Its construction began in 1954 and occupied Van Tassel for his remaining 25 years. The white-domed building was purportedly designed to generate electrostatic energy, but Van Tassel also drew inspiration from the design of Moses’ tabernacle and some of Nikola Tesla’s ideas.

While time travel as Van Tassel imagined it isn’t in the offing, a 60-minute sound-bath session in a relic of California’s extraterrestrial-crazed past, all while hovering above the wide expanse of dusty desert scrub, is out of this world.
 

Other Architectural Wonders

Doolittle House Nestled atop a five-storey-high mound of boulders on the edge of Joshua Tree National Park, the Doolittle House casts natural materials in curvilinear shapes. The building appears both indigenous to the environment and completely alien to it.

John Lautner House Originally built for comedy legend Bob Hope and his wife, the John Lautner House resembles a UFO perched on the hills overlooking Palm Springs.

Futuro Houses Just over half of the 100 flying-saucer-shaped Futuro Houses designed by Matti Suuronen in the late 1960s and early 1970s are still around. One of them is located in Joshua Tree – and listed on Airbnb.

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