Steel House, by Bruno
Every now and then the media report on an extravagant house, designed and build by the owner. A house in the form of a football, a house inspired by Antoni Gaudí, a gigantic treehouse, or a 13-story wooden house. The Toilet House of last week also leans to this category of building. Everything is possible, but it is mostly that sophisticated or beautiful.
An intriguing example of such a house is the almost finished Steel House by the artist Robert Bruno. The house build near the city of Lubbock in Texas. I wouldn’t say I find the project beautiful as such, but I like the mysterious form of it. It has something of a re-assembled old submarine, or a stage-piece of an old Star Wars film. When you consider the Statue of Liberty to be the first iconographic architecture, this project could be instructive too on that matter. Strange forms trigger iconography, and this ‘sculpture’ is no exception.
The house is a steel cave. Instead of scratching little pieces of stone to enlarge your cave, Robert Bruno welds more steel plates onto his existing dome-structure. While most architecture today is based on the (steel, concrete or wood) frame, Bruno builds his house of domes. The folded, load bearing surfaces so many architects aspire, are here build – by hand.
It weights about 110 tons, Bruno calculated. It is tempting to think with rising steel prices the ‘unbuilt’ value – the actual material – could exceed the value of the project as a piece of art. 110 tons of steel however equals even with today’s price only about 30.000 dollars. A car is more expensive than that.
The idea for the house started, the artist says, after he made a big steel sculpture and thought it would be nice to be able to actually walk through it. Twenty-eight years later this is the result. It has something organic and machine-like, the artist says. It does remind of the organic architecture of for instance the Goetheanum of Rudolf Steiner. Even more it made me think of Night Vision Goggles.
The form of the house evolves from four ‘columns’, like a tree from a stem, and develops with a focus on the windows, on the view. The arched spaces do not seem that practical or flexible… but functionality isn’t everything, and it still more spacious than most houses.
This isn’t mass-customization. It is just customization. Not a Binary Large OBject, a blob, but just an Analogue Large OBject, an ‘alob’. It isn’t hip, but still cool.