Twitter founder Jack Dorsey once famously said that good technology disappears while you’re using it. "It’s really complex to make something simple," he told Charlie Rose, touting the iPad as an example of truly great design.
Architect John Beckmann, founder of the New York firm Axis Mundi, hopes to replicate that effect on an architectural scale with Cloud House, a weekend home in rural Colorado. "I want the house, like any great technology, ‘to go away!’," he says in an email.
When it’s built, Cloud House will sit on a high ridge of Colorado’s Lizard Head Pass, just outside of Telluride. In plan, the home is deceptively simple, looking almost like a hand-drawn sketch. Five ellipses overlap to form the four main volumes of the small home (the fifth ellipse provides a hallway). A wooden patio fills in the space created between the curves, and a wide porch faces the southern ridge.
From a perspective view, the poppy shape of the plan is less obvious. Wide, curved glass walls enclose the rooms. Circular skylights let light in. Presumably, privacy isn’t much of an issue on such a wide site, but Beckmann has designed a track of curving white curtains anyways. My first instinct was to compare the Cloud House to SANAA’s elegant Toledo Glass Museum—both share a bubbly plan and curving glass walls. But Beckmann corrects me: The house came to him in a dream, he says, and is far more closely related to the iPod.
Because of a non-disclosure agreement, Beckmann can’t speak about the status of the Lizard Head Pass home (except to say that it is, in fact, being built). But he does say that another, larger version of the design is being developed for a site in Catalonia. For that project, his office is exploring the possibility of prefabricating the elliptical pods. Right now, curved glass panels are prohibitively expensive to fabricate—a viable prefab alternative would be a major innovation.