Balanced on just one pole, the inhabitable ReActor house inclines and spins around according to internal movements.
Artists tend to get type-cast as eccentric or whacky by many who don’t understand the genius of unique creativity. Somewhere along the rolling hills of upstate New York at the outdoor sculpture park, Art Omi, one such artist duo has managed to create a fully functional house with a special slant. Alex Schewder and Ward Shelly are this ‘whacky’ duo who have not only built this house but also lived in it.
The project, called ReActor, is a 42X8 foot rotating home that balances on a single 14-foot tall concrete column. A hinge connected to the column allows the entire piece to tilt and rotate around a central point as the weight of its inhabitants shifts. The balancing structure comprises of a wooden frame with floor-to-ceiling windows, with a look reminiscent of modernist houses.
Symmetrical living spaces occupied by each artist made up the plan. Each half of the house includes basic cooking amenities and a shared central bathroom. The duo calls this art form “social relationship architecture”. Both participants lived in the sculpture for five days in full view of the public. As each participant went about their day while subtle changes in balance directly influenced the other.
They observed that the structure rotated in response to its occupants’ movements, exterior forces, and interior conditions, making visible the intimate relationship between architecture and its inhabitants. The performance in the spinning and tilting house opened 27th July 2016 and ended five days later, on 31st July 2016.
The Architecture Omi program is conceived to facilitate projects exploring the intersection of architecture, art and landscape. It provides artists and architects with the opportunity to build installations on its vast tracts of land. The site encompasses 300-acres of farmland, forests and wetlands.
Schweder and Shelley have collaborated since 2007, focusing on ‘performance architecture’, a practice of designing, building, and living in structures for the purpose of public observation and dialogue. Though the artists are currently presumably residing in more stable housing, the tilting house remained on view at Omi until August 2018.
Text by Neerja Kapadia