Morongo Valley, California
Built for Space Saloon, Landing
Design - Build
Photographs by Daniel Schwartz
Ghost House was conceived as an experiment in material manipulation, the form of which is directly dependent on the weather, environment, and time itself. The process of construction started with the erection of light wooden frames to create the formal outlines of two houses. Then, custom-cut canvas sheets were soaked in non-toxic adhesive and draped over the frames. Over the course of a few hours, the sheets froze into solid objects while blowing in the strong mountain winds. Next, cubic apertures were cut from the canvases, further referencing the formal memory of a house. The final result is a three-dimensional snapshot of a specific moment in time. It is an improbable structure: a representation of the past existing in the present, neither here nor there; the ghost of a house.
The project was executed as part of Space Saloon's 2018 mobile education camp that asked participating architects and artists to design/build installations investigating notions of context as they relate to environmental factors. Our installation specifically studied architecture's relationship to the wind—a historically and mythologically mysterious force that is only now beginning to be fully understood. Using specialized equipment, we identified and recorded wind patterns at various hyper-specific locations throughout California's high desert. The site of the structure was then selected based on the precise microclimate of the designated area.
The resulting structure is a poetic expression that questions outstanding notions of authorship in design, inviting weather, and the environment as an active participant in the process. Whereas bio-design typically posits to create architecture resembling nature or natural processes, we take the challenge literally—Ghost House doesn't just look like a curtain blowing in the wind; it is a curtain blowing in the wind. Here, architecture transcends traditional values of composition and function and instead exalts in the primal beauty of nature through the embodiment of the exact climatic conditions of one instant in time solidified in a billowing canvas sheet.