Featured Image for Two artists practice synchronised living in a house that moves with the wind
Architecture

Two artists practice synchronised living in a house that moves with the wind

Yes, the artistic duo, Alex Schweder and Ward Shelley, are living in a house perched on a pole in upstate New York.

Well, not permanently. The experiment is part of the pair’s latest architectural performance, which looks at the relationship between ourselves and the spaces we inhabit.

Schweder and Shelley were interested to see what would happen when placed in a house that balances on a pole and rotates in the wind, and moves according to the occupant’s movements.

Who wouldn’t be? So they built it.

Schweder and Shelley living in their house on a pole.

Photo Credit: Richard Barnes

Schweder and Shelley are known for their innovative architectural installations and the development of what they call ‘performance architecture’.

The public are often invited to see and engage with the installations, as well as encouraged to reflect on “the nature of social space and the way architecture influences human behaviour.”

You certainly wouldn’t want to attempt this particular project with someone you didn’t like. The house, which is essentially a long rectangle, measures 13.5m long and 2.5m wide, stands 4.6m off the ground, and has two mirrored living spaces at each end.

Speaking to Domain, Schweder said:

“The tipping point can only be maintained if we are the same distance from the centre, so we have to coordinate our movements by doing things at the same time. If we go to bed at the same time, the house stays in balance and if we simultaneously go to our reading chairs, we remain balanced and level.”

Schweder and Shelley living in their tilted house on a pole.

Photo Credit: Richard Barnes

I’d like to retract my earlier statement and instead suggest: book a week in this house with someone you struggle to see eye-to-eye with. You’ll have no choice but to learn to co-operate.

Most of the pair’s projects involve the creation of a space that is then occupied by two people for ten continuous days. Schweder says that they aim to use “balance, symmetry, and co-operation as active design principles.” He continues:

”The structures are eccentric and extreme and place limits on each occupant’s autonomy, requiring behavioural adaptations. Most often the occupants need to behave in a co-operative way for life inside to go smoothly.”

This couldn’t be more true for the house-on-a-pole. The materials for the house were all purchased at normal hardware stores and from building supply companies (in case you’re thinking of starting up your own experiment), and is self-functioning with water tanks, batteries, and solar chargers.

Schweder and Shelley living in their house on a pole.

Photo Credit: Richard Barnes

For those with queasy bellies, you’ll be happy to know the pair promises that the movement is mostly slow and graceful and doesn’t move too fast (even in high winds).

However, a core problem was realised not long after the launch of the installation:

“It is a house for two people in which they can’t really be together.”

Schweder and Shelley are now looking into creating a similar structure that could instead house a happy couple.

“Picture this sited on a cliff in Utah! We are definitely looking for someone who would be interested.”

Would you apply?

Schweder and Shelley living in their house on a pole.

Visitors are welcome at the installation. Photo Credit: Richard Barnes

Lead Image Photo Credit: Richard Barnes

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