Developer and art collector Robbie Antonio once hired Paris Hilton to design a resort clubhouse in his native Philippines. More often, though, his international ventures have sought the expertise and branding power of top artists and Pritzker Prize-winning architects.
Revolution Precrafted Properties, his latest project, takes celebrity commissioning to the next level. So far Antonio has enlisted more than 30 architects, artists and designers (even rock stars) – among them Zaha Hadid, Daniel Libeskind, David Salle and Lenny Kravitz – to create prefab homes and pavilions.
The first two built pavilions, by Hadid and firm Gluckman Tang, debuted last week at Design Miami.
Hadid envisioned a woven metallic clamshell as a dining pavilion. Wood infill softens the alien structure – one can imagine it subbing in for a pergola. Gluckman Tang’s light-filled rectilinear design favours art display and fits whole into a shipping container.
‘The technology behind prefabrication makes high design spaces from big name architects and artists more accessible to a wider market,’ says creator Robbie Antonio, rhapsodising on the ‘revolutionary’ side of the business. ‘And because the properties will be released in editioned series, the sense of bespoke exclusivity is preserved.’
Antonio strives to make these homes and pavilions ‘transportable, accessible, and collectible,’ yet he acknowledges the central paradox of ‘democratising architecture but still limiting it’. He quotes an average price of $300,000 for the dwellings and $100,000 for the pavilions, with a wide range for both.
Auctions and galleries have the potential to corner the market and push up these out-the-door prices exponentially. Take for example the Prouvé demountable houses, utilitarian World War II shelters that now sell at auctions for vast sums.
‘Theoretically, the greater the numbers the more affordable the design,’ says Ron Radziner, co-founder of participating architecture firm Marmol Radziner. ‘The first prototype may be expensive, but if you can push production into the hundreds it won’t just be for collectors.’
Radziner’s ‘Instrumental Home’, with interiors by Kravitz Design (Lenny, that is), is a 5m x 15m, one-bedroom modernist box meant to fit cleanly into almost any environment.
Other highlights in the Revolution Precrafted Properties include Ron Arad’s ‘Armadillo Tea Pavilion’, as minimal as it gets. A canopy of moulded modular shells, it works as a garden object or an indoor playroom. ‘We tried to start from a small elemental unit,’ says the architect in a promotional video. ‘Everyone can build their own small space.’
Designer Tom Dixon takes adaptability even further with ‘BLOCK’, an assembly kit of industrial aluminium and cork. The aluminum frames the home to a desired size and shape and cork covers the interior, providing both sonic and thermal insulation. The architecture is entirely up to you.
Revolution Precrafted Properties will be manufactured at multiple sites in Europe and Asia. Labour savings are a big part of the equation, says Radziner. ‘[Our firm] does prefabs here in the States,’ he tells me. ‘Overseas manufacturing will lower costs for the Revolution line.’
Antonio hopes to top out at around 50 homes and pavilions, with many rolling out through 2016.