Cliff Notes for Cliffs – “Hang Ten” taken to a new level!

Here at CHC, we regularly see ISBUs (Shipping Container) constructs used as “in-fill” between buildings or on “difficult to build” sites. We’ve dropped them on top of existing buildings, into rock ledges by helicopter and even cradled them between trees on large steel cables. We’ve seen them shoved into incredibly tight spaces to form multistory residences in urban environments.

ISBU in-fill

The idea is to make the “unsuitable” site suitable. That said, this cliffside concept home takes “site utilization” to a whole new level.

Cliff HouseBeyond the obvious “cool factor” of projects like this, they’re actually pushed by theĀ  fact that we live in a world defined by it’s finite amounts of space. In my travels of late, I’m reminded that in some places on the planet, those boundaries are rapidly being pushed by expanding populations to their breaking point. So, many of us seek new ways to solve old problems – housing the masses.

And then, there are the “dreamers”…

You know, those cats with “big ideas fueled by big wallets” that can craft some of the most amazing structures that one could imagine. They’re the projects that architects and designers dream of. We salivate over them like June Porter lusts after shoes… (Sorry June, but I had to out ya!) šŸ™‚

We were approached last year to design a series of “seaside dwellings” that were actually anchored into the rock face of sheer cliffs, overlooking some of the most scenic seascapes on the planet.

It didn’t take long to figure out thatĀ  the expenses involved in accomplishing a task like this were formidable and Herculean.Ā  (I have some personal experience living in “cliffside dwellings”. More on that later…)

After doing the math, we passed. It’s just not whatĀ  “WE” do.

But there are architects and engineers among us who look challenge in the face, fill their mouths with Vegemite and Foster’s Lager and then… they dream “big”.

Reeking of Vegemite, Modscape (those mad men and women hailing from the “land down under”) debuted thisĀ  five-story concept home called “Cliff House” that clings to the side of a cliff in rural Australia.

After it’s debut, we were approachedĀ  by a gentleman who wanted to build an adaptation of it using ISBUs cradled off a central elevator/staircase core. Think of a spine and the attached ribs, inverted.

In our conference room, even with the heat turned up, I got the shivers. Deja Vu, man!

Years ago, I lived in Southern California, in Palos Verdes Estates, on a street named Paseo Del Mar. It was basically an oceanview street perched on the edge of the cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean and beautiful Catalina Island.

My home was perched about 100 feet from the edge of theĀ  cliff. From the pool you could see the sea… forever. They call them cliffs for a reason.Ā Ā  A cliff is what’s left when the rest of the land cleaves itself off into the abyss. This erosion is usually caused by tremors (earthquakes) heavy rains or high winds. You’re talking about dynamics that you have no control over, unless your anchors are drilled deep into the rock (at great expense).

HALF of my property fell into the sea while I lived there. During big storms you could feel the waves vibrating through the house as they crashed into the rocky beach below. We finally sold the property when faced with the costs of a new pool (the old one ended up on the beach below) and extensive anchors to hold the rest of the property in place.

The Modscape “Cliff House” reminds me of some high tech home that Tony Stark would live in as he builds his next equally high tech Battle Suit (probably while surrounded by scantily clad international fashion models and cars that cost as much as some urban sub-divisions).

modscape_cliff_house-3Can you imagine the support systems required for a house like this? The amount of energy required to operate this home would be “beyond the scope of most sustainable home-dwellers”. You’d need to add another level dedicated to grey water, sewage, A/C and mech support.

Those tasks considered, think about HOW you build housing to shelter your family. Think about the innovative ways that others are addressing difficult sites and building incredibly technical homes to shelter families.

Luckily, I live in a state where the population per square mile hasn’t broken “10”. (In fact, it’s barely broken “5”.) It’ll be a long time before we have to resort to housing like this…

The “Cliff House”? We think that it’s awesome. This “dream home” is truly a “dream”.

And for some of us, it reminds us of nightmares. šŸ™‚

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