The Moebius House designed by Tony Owens Partners was completed in 2007 and somehow completely missed my radar until now (thanks to Natan!). The home, located in Sydney Australia, boasts beautiful views of the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge. The home was designed using an architectural design concept they call “elastic design,” where a building that is responsive to its environment including spatial, programmatic, environmental and structural issues. And, the construction as explained below, resembles an automotive build.
From the architects:
The house explores a more environmentally sensitive form of design called ‘micro design’. Micro design utilises parametric modelling software which can respond to very small changes to design input criteria. The unique form is a response to the requirements to maintain view and solar corridors.
We started by responding to the site with a series of movements which folded and twisted the space in order to maximise the changes of level, view opportunities and potential for connectivity to outside spaces at various ground planes. We created a dynamic model capable of responding to changes in these variables and allowed the models to run in real time. We then stopped the model when we felt we had a model which satisfied our concerns. The house has a fluidity of space which is a direct result of having a strong relationship with the surrounding landscape.
Automotive Assembly Process
Due to the complex geometry of this house and the need for such fine tolerances, we had to evolve a completely new system of fabrication and assembly for this house. We started off designing a house, but in the end the construction process more closely resembles that of a car.
Early on it became apparent that this house would have to be detailed and documented entirely in 3 dimensions. The steel frame house is being clad in metal panels which are being pre-cut in China. The complex curving structure is like the ribs of the human body and must fir within a very slim cladding zone. The tolerances are very tight so if anything is out by even a few millimetres, the ribs will stick out from the skin. It took about 12 months to finalise the steel chasis. This involved developing the structure as a 3 dimensional model and continually checking it by inserting it onto the 3-dimensional to make sure it fit. This model was continually checked against the computer model being prepared by the still fabricators until it was identical and all junctions were resolved.
In a traditional house the floor and walls are built first and the roof is added. The Moebius House is being assembled around a chasis like a car would be. First the chasis is assembled on site. Then the pre-formed metal cladding panels are attached to the chasis to create a monocot shell. The house is wired and plumbed like a car, with the electrical, air conditioning and services all wired through the chasis. The kitchen even resembles a dash board.