Hirsuta/Arch Out Loud

The off-the-grid solar home would imperceptibly spin on its central axis, providing fresh views with each season.

A big, rubber kickball that’s been blasted with a shotgun and is in the process of deflating—that’s what we could all soon be living in, to believe the winner of a design competition envisioning the “house of the future.”

The “Hollywood” contest, put on by the Denver-based architectural-research group Arch Out Loud, invited architects and visionaries to submit concepts for a revolutionary single-family domicile that uses environmentally friendly technology. The house would sit on a parcel of land right below the famous HOLLYWOOD sign, owned by a New York dentist who grew up in California named Steve Alper. “The idea for a competition came from Steve recognizing that such a prominent location needs a story, and its design should make a statement beyond another luxury home in the Hollywood Hills,” says Arch Out Loud’s Nick Graham. “The location can serve as a platform and its architecture a precedent for sustainability, future lifestyle, and iconic architecture.”

Out of 500 entries, local firm Hirsuta emerged victorious with its concept for an “Ambivalent House,” which definitely satisfies the competition’s request for innovation. For one thing, it spins: Hidden mechanical systems would gradually rotate its outer husk—perhaps 360 degrees over the course of a year—so passersby would never see it the same way twice.

Hirsuta/Arch Out Loud

Water and gas lines would run up a fixed core, but energy would come from its solar-panel-covered shell, allowing the occupants to live off-the-grid. Parts of this photovoltaic skin would be translucent, forming shimmery curtains that paint the inside rooms with dappled sunlight.

If this all sounds weird, it’s meant to. The folks at Hirsuta write:

This neighborhood surely ranks among the strangest in Los Angeles: a natural landscape that seems both near and far, the world-famous sign that happened by accident, a gigantic radio tower, and coyotes. Strangest of all are the people, mostly strangers-cum-tourists to the site milling about the front of the house to take photographs. In a case like this it seems best not to measure against any of this context directly or on its terms, as if to compete with the sign with yet another sign. Instead the house must be a thing apart from these other things, in the same way they are themselves, in order to stand among them.

“After thinking quite a bit about the competition brief, which seemed almost too balanced in its weighting of objectives, we decided that the project was really mostly to do with iconicity,” says Hirsuta’s founder, Jason Payne. “We tackled that problem in a rather sideways kind of way, creating a form that is basically an empty signifier.”

So will this spinning house-blob ever see the light of day? It could, to believe Graham of Arch Out Loud. “It may be the realization of a particular proposal, or it may be a combination of ideas that were submitted to the competition,” he says. “The Hollywood competition is a forward-thinking design exercise, with construction in its future.”

Hirsuta/Arch Out Loud

The runner-up design winners are no less strange: They include a home with an “organic vein” sheltering a lovely pool and another shaped like an immense white Krispy Kreme. Have a look at some of them below, starting with a couple “Hollywood Hill” by FGO Arquitectura, “The Last House” by YBDD and NHD, and finally “Eclipse” by A2.0 Studio di Architettura.

FGO Arquitectura/Arch Out Loud
YBDD/NHD/Arch Out Loud
A2.0 Studio di Architettura/Arch Out Loud

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. a map of future climate risks in the U.S.
    Maps

    America After Climate Change, Mapped

    With “The 2100 Project: An Atlas for A Green New Deal,” the McHarg Center tries to visualize how the warming world will reshape the United States.

  2. Life

    The Death and Life of the 13-Month Calendar

    Favored by leaders in transportation and logistics, the International Fixed Calendar was a favorite of Kodak founder George Eastman, whose company used it until 1989.

  3. photo: a commuter looks at a small map of the London Tube in 2009
    Maps

    Help! The London Tube Map Is Out of Control.

    It’s never been easy to design a map of the city’s underground transit network. But soon, critics say, legibility concerns will demand a new look.

  4. photo: an Uber driver.
    Perspective

    Did Uber Just Enable Discrimination by Destination?

    In California, the ride-hailing company is changing a policy used as a safeguard against driver discrimination against low-income and minority riders.

  5. Perspective

    Why Car-Free Streets Will Soon Be the Norm

    In cities like New York, Paris, Rotterdam, and soon San Francisco, car-free streets are emerging amid a growing movement.

×