My family owns a plot of land on the top of a hill. AT the bottom of the hill is a lake. Between the plot and the lake is a house that completely blocks the lake view. However, it is only 10 or 15 feet too high for a view.

What I want to achieve is something like a picture window that conveys the view from 15 feet higher than the living space.

I started by picturing a house on stilts. The county building code makes this impossible.

So lately I have been imagining something more like a window-sized periscope, possibly with mylar mirrors. However, I think to do a good job of this at least cost would require more ingenuity and knowledge of optics than I have. What would be a good way of doing this? I can use curved mirrors. Or freznel lenses. Whether I can do this or not, with a good image at sane cost, is the deciding factor on whether I build a house on this currently unoccupied lot that my family owns. So it's a big deal, at least to me. I would like to retire there. I have learned that the lake view is conducive to my peace of mind and mental health. I hope this is a challenging and amusing problem.

A quick Google search on "periscope window" shows that there are a lot of people interested in this question and a few who have tried to build one, though I have not seen anyone else who has tried to displace the view as much as I wish to. The more typical project just wants the view to face in a different direction.

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ If you cant build a house on stilts, can you build a multi story house, or set up the roof of the house high enough that you could make a patio on the roof to enjoy the view? or a pent house room that could enjoy the view? $\endgroup$
    – Forward Ed
    Commented Jan 29, 2023 at 21:42
  • $\begingroup$ Once you have a big enough turret on the house to have done a fair job of it, you've got a big enough turret that you can just install a stairway up to a viewing room. Put a bar up there, and maybe leave enough room for an elevator shaft in case you or a loved one gets infirm in their old age and still wants to go up there. $\endgroup$
    – TimWescott
    Commented Feb 20, 2023 at 18:15
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks, @ForwardEd. I know from previous proposals of mine that the other side of the family is very averse to anything with appreciable visual impact. I believe that a treehouse, set slightly back from the road. and painted the proper color, will be nearly invisible. $\endgroup$
    – andrewH
    Commented Oct 27, 2023 at 2:51

1 Answer 1


With a periscope you will be looking at the view through a 20' tube and the view would only be visible from right in front of the tube end. With lenses you could back-project onto a screen but there would be loss of light intensity and ambient light would reduce contrast greatly.

A video feed to a large monitor would be a lot simpler and might work psychologically. What will the neighbours think?


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.