Monday, April 8, 2013

Biocleave House

Case Study: Bioscleave House
Colleen O’Malley
Arakawa and Madeline Gins are a husband-and-wife team known for their architecture, art, and poetry. When you go to their Web site, you are greeted by the following phrase: "We have decided not to die." These bold words explain their path to exploring ways to “reverse the downhill course of human life”. They call this “reversible destiny”, meaning death does not have to be inevitable for humans. They believe this can be done by challenging our perceptions. The best way to do this is to change the nature of how we live. That was the idea behind the Bioscleave House. This home is constructed in New York. The house is not comfortable, all preconceived expectations of a home are found now where in the Bioscleave. This design was on purpose, you do not want to be comfortable because comfortable could lead to death, and you need to stay on your toes to stay alive.  

Both the exterior and interior are full of color, with about 40 colors total in the entire house. The house comprises of a two bedrooms, a kitchen, and a study. The kitchen is sunken into the center of the house with bumpy flooring rising around it in undulating waves. None of the rooms have doors, not even the bathroom. Outlets are at odd angles and windows are at unconventional heights to make the resident stretch out of their comfort zone.

Those windows have one important effect that starts to get at the heart of what Arakawa and Gins are trying to accomplish. Because they're either very high or low, you can't establish where the horizon is. You don't know what level is and what's not. The roof is not always a fixed distance from the floor. You can't use your normal ways of getting around, which you may not even have to think about at this point; tools like depth perception and distance don't apply.

Arakawa and Gins claim that losing balance and using your body in surprising ways to maintain equilibrium will stimulate the immune system, which will eventually stop aging and death. But there's a mental component as well. Think about a room that has levels that make you feel like you're two places at once. That violates your idea of what a room should be, and by changing your idea of how architecture should work, you may be changing your ideas about how life should work. A rejection of traditional architecture may bring a rejection of traditional norms that include death.

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