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Bioscleave House: Built to Defeat Mortality

06/10/2008
Bioscleave House (Lifespan Extending Villa) was designed by Arakawa, a 71 year old artist, with his wife, Madeline Gins, 66. Ms. Gins, 66, extolls the health benefits of the house, claiming that its architecture makes people use their bodies in unexpected ways to maintain equilibrium, which stimulates their immune systems. The concrete floor of the house rises and falls like the surface of a vast, bumpy chocolate chip cookie, an undulating floor that tends to throw people off balance.

In addition to the floor, which threatens to send the un-sure-footed hurtling into the sunken kitchen at the center of the house, the design features walls painted in about 40 different colors from AFM Safecoat; multiple levels meant to create the sensation of being in two spaces at once; windows at varying heights; oddly angled light switches and outlets; and an open flow of traffic, unhindered by interior doors or their adjunct, privacy.

Like the undulating floor, Arakawa and Gins, as they are known professionally, tend to throw people off balance. In 45 years of working together as artists, poets and architects, they have developed a cryptic philosophy of life and art, a theory they call reversible destiny. Essentially, they have made it their mission, in paintings, books and now architectural projects like this one, to outlaw aging and its consequences, to reverse the downhill course of human life. “It’s immoral that people have to die,” Ms. Gins explained.

The house in East Hampton cost more than $2 million to build. It’s their first completed architectural work in the United States and, as they see it, a turning point in their campaign to defeat mortality. The house, which is still unoccupied, was commissioned in the late 1990s by a friend who sold the property to an anonymous group of investors after the project dragged on and costs mounted. But it is ready, Arakawa and Ms. Gins say, to begin rejuvenating whoever moves in now.






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