Ads are being blocked

For us to continue writing great stories, we need to display ads.

Un-block Learn more


Please select the extension that is blocking ads.

Ad Block Plus Ghostery uBlock Other Blockers

Please follow the steps below


London Has an Impossibly Weird House That Defies Physics

OK, who dropped acid into England's water supply?


Britons strolling past 1-7 Ashwin Street this week are no doubt getting the heaving heebie-jeebies from an other-dimensional house squatting on a formerly vacant lot. The domicile sports a normal Victorian facade; the only trouble is it appears to be a super-strong magnet for flesh, with people scurrying up and down its facade like round-headed chimps.

Did somebody drop acid into London's water supply? No need to grab your "go bags," holders of physics Ph.Ds: This mind-warping house is only an illusion created by Argentina's Leandro Erlich. The artist has positioned a fake exterior horizontally on the ground and propped a huge mirror above it at a 45 degree angle. Pedestrians seeking a bit of fun can plod across the facade to make it look like they're wearing Velcro shoes, or pretend to dangle from windowsills like the kitten on that iconic motivational poster.

The Barbican Art Gallery was responsible for commissioning Erlich's so-called "Dalston House." Sited on the ruins of an old home the Germans bombed during World War II, the artwork is meant to "resemble the houses that previously stood on the block," writes the gallery, and will serve as the site for upcoming talks and performances about architecture, urbanism and perception. It's all part of a "Beyond Barbican" blast going on this summer, which also includes an appearance by Irish supergroup "The Gloaming" and a fairylike theater show with puppets inside a bank.

A few more views of the topsy-turvy rowhouse:

Last year, Erlich erected a similar wacko-house in Paris, called In Perceptions. He's also designed an absurd swimming pool that people can stroll across, a la Jesus, which has shown at PS1 in Queens and elsewhere. Here's what that looks like:

Photos via Luke MacGregor/Reuters

About the Author

  • John Metcalfe
    John Metcalfe is CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, based in Oakland. His coverage focuses on climate change and the science of cities.