The House of the Century

A house from the future
 
The House of the Century was built in the wrong century. Designed and built by Doug Michels and Chip Lord of the avant-garde San Francisco design collective Ant Farm, with architect Richard Jost, this lakeside retreat near Houston, commissioned by an art patron, has an evocative, organic shape, with round living and kitchen spaces flanking a ladder-accessible tower that contains a bathroom and stacked bedrooms. Constructed from steel mesh and layers of chicken wire that were plastered, waterproofed, and coated with the cement, sand, and water mixture known as gunite, the structure has large porthole windows and an interior of wood floors and built-in wood counters and tables. A fireplace with an exposed flue was used to heat the house; the TV antenna atop the tower poked fun at a then-popular, Pop Art reference.
The House of the Century from lake Chenango at nighttime
The House of the Century from lake Chenango at nighttime
The structure lasted about a decade, when a flood in the mid-1980s largely destroyed the interior, leaving the structure in its current, semi-ruined state. Like all great architecture, this one evokes several interpretations: as an homage to Houston’s Apollo program, as the front of a 1930s Ford, and even as a phallic symbol of the 1960s sex-drugs-and-rock-and-roll era. It also foretold 21st-century interests, such as the creation of biomorphic forms now done on the computer, the construction of buildings using design/build methods, the experimentation with low-cost materials borrowed from other industries, and the reduction of a dwelling’s size for sustainability and affordability reasons. Well-documented in several YouTube videos by Richard Jost, this house is as much, if not more, of this century as the last one.
Source: Architect Magazine
House of the Century, after the flood.
House of the Century, after the flood.
Sections AA and BB
AA
  • Dinning
  • Livingroom
  • Bathroom
  • Shower
  • Children’s Loft
  • Master Loft
BB
  • Livingroom
  • Storage
  • Kitchen

Construction Photos

1972
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article

MOma, new york

“BUILDING COLLECTIONS”,
Opening and Exhibit, 2010 – 2011
In 1972, Richard Jost designed and built an award-winning ferrocement retreat in collaboration with the California design and media arts group “Ant Farm”.  Known as the “House of the Century”, the house received a national design citation in Progressive Architecture; was widely published internationally in journals of architecture and design; and nearly 40 years later was integrated into the permanent architecture collections at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York, NY, along with other newly-acquired works by renown architects including Le Corbusier and Louis Sullivan.  In addition to some of the original drawings, MoMA acquired the short film “Mojo Relic” produced by Richard and his daughter Manda Clair.
The political potential of architecture was one of the founding credos of the avant-garde in the early 20th century. Yet today it is commonly believed that this potential has been overwhelmed by economic realities and by the sense that architecture, by its very nature, is symbiotic with existing power structures. Such a perception, however, is belied both by the rise of a neo-avant-garde in the 1960s and 70s, and by emerging practices that bear witness to a rebirth of social and political engagement as an assertion of architecture’s relevance. This installation of architectural works from MoMA’s collection offers a series of fresh perspectives on the ways in which, over the last half century, architects have responded actively to the ever-evolving conditions of the polis. The display engages a range of media in MoMA’s collection, putting architectural stances in dialogue with the works of other urban practitioners: artists, photographers, and designers. Divided into nine sections, plus a special performance piece by Andrés Jaque Arquitectos (at MoMA PS1 on September 16 and 23), the exhibition presents a variety of critiques, from radicalism, institutional critique, and iconoclasm, to the blurring of social borders and the examination of public space.
Richard Jost, Dave Cerutti and Pepper Mouser.
Richard Jost, Dave Cerutti and Pepper Mouser.
announcement
Richard Jost and Pepper Mouser coming out from the MoMA after the reception.
Richard Jost and Pepper Mouser coming out from the MoMA after the reception.
Scan

Publications

  • Progressive Architecture. Jun/1969
  • Progressive Architecture. National Design Citation. Jan. 1973
  • Progressive Architecture. Jun/1973
  • “House of the Century”, Progressive Architecture, Mar. 1973
  • Playboy. Dec/1973
  • Playboy. Mar. 1981
  • Playboy. Sept/2010
  • The Hollywood Reporter. Dec/1981
  • Texas Homes, “Houston’s Extraordinary Space-Age Media Room”. Nov./Dec. 1979
  • ULTRA Magazine,“Space-Age Space”. Nov. 1983
  • Bell Magazine (Australia), “The Techno-Marvellous Media Room”, Cover. Jan./Feb. 1980
  • New Mexico Designer/Builder, “Back to the Future”. Dec./Jan. 1994/1995
  • Domus, “Ant Farm as by germano Celant”.May 1973 / March 2011
  • Dwell Magazine (cover photo), “Radical Ideas in Architecture”. July/August 2006
  • CNN STYLE, How the 1960s and 1970s inspired radical architecture. May 2018

Citation

citation2
citation 1973

The house of the century

Richard Jost explains how the House of the Century was built.

Mojo Relic

Video and music by Manda Clair Jost.

Richard Jost

Architect
 
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