When they first decided to build a guest house for their home in Malibu, California, U.S. actor Robert Downey Jr. and his wife, producer Susan Levin, clearly knew they wanted something other than the everyday. They achieved this a decade ago when Robert Clydesdale, the couple’s property manager, introduced them to architect Nicolò Bini, custodian of a highly innovative design approach. Known as “Binishell”, this construction approach uses dynamic pneumatic formwork to build reinforced concrete-shell structures, presenting multiple advantages over traditional approaches, notably drastically reducing construction site time and costs, and optimizing labor and material use.
After taking under consideration a number of design options, the clients and architect decided on a final design, which they then worked out down to the last detail. Concrete casting took place one cold, damp morning in June 2015. Ten days later, the pneumatic formwork was removed to reveal a structure just 10 cm thick. The owners completed the house by installing windows and doors. They then fitted out the interior in an eclectic and ironic style, combining artwork, handcrafted objects and custom-made furniture.
Because it is self-supporting, a Binishell does not require a mesh of pillars to support it, allowing maximum freedom for organizing the space and furnishings. Designer Joe Nahem of
Fox-Nahem Associates leveraged this flexibility to adjust the position of partitions and to size the rooms as necessary.
The home’s floorplan revolves around a fluid, continuous living space consisting of a lounge, kitchen and dining room, plus two bedrooms, a gym, movie room and study. The layout is completed by an outdoor terrace and swimming pool.
The building’s green nature is more intrinsic and runs far deeper than the wind and photovoltaic system installed in the garden to reduce the building’s carbon footprint....
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