In their book Architectural Body, Madeline Gins and Arakawa introduced the term ‘bioscleave’ stating: “Architecture’s holding in place occurs within and as part of a prevailing atmospheric condition that others routinely call biosphere, but which we, feeling the need to stress its dynamic nature, have renamed bioscleave.”
Bioscleave House (Lifespan Extending Villa) was the first work of ‘procedural architecture’ to be built in the United States. Designed as a single family dwelling, at its center is a sunken kitchen and dining area surrounded by the steep and uneven floors of the living space. Attached to a pre-existing house, it can be accessed via a linking corridor, a labyrinthine basement directly into the kitchen or through the two front doors that sit atop steep slopes. The planning of the building demonstrates rotational symmetry to determine the position of four separate yet open rooms that radiate from the center: two bedrooms, a bathroom and a study. The interior and exterior walls of these rooms are painted in blocks of vibrant colors in contrast to the opaque walls that link them together and define the parameter of the living space. Windows are placed at unexpected heights and vertical poles assist navigation of the challenging uneven floor.
Arakawa and Gins designated Biocleave House as an “inter-active laboratory of everyday life” whose terrain and walls are deliberately realized in unexpected ways to keep a person ‘tentative’ so that they must actively negotiate even the simplest tasks. This heightened body awareness and the challenging of senses can, they believed, allow the body to constantly re-configure itself and with time become a means to strengthen the immune system. Bioscleave House fundamentally proposes an architecture of viability that helps to sustain one throughout life, and even extend human lifespan indefinitely.
• Completed in 2008
• Size: 2700 sq ft / 255 m²
• Program: Residence
• Location: East Hampton, New York