Villa Hush Hush by Marks Barfield Architects


Marks Barfield Architects of London have designed a house where sections could be elevated on towers at the touch of a button.

Called Villa Hush Hush, the building would be divided into four rectangular zones, two of which could be elevated.

the project is designed so that residents could choose on a whim between privacy surrounded by trees and views over the landscape.

A mechanism designed by engineers Atelier One would push the support columns out of the ground, elevating parts of the building by up to 40 metres.

More about Marks Barfield Architects on Dezeen: Kew Tree Top Walkways (May 2008)

The following is from the architects:


Villa Hush-Hush - the latest extraordinary proposal exclusively revealed to Dezeen by London Eye architects Marks Barfield.

Specifically created for sensitive sites and affording sensational views, Villa Hush-Hush is designed as a spectacular new home concept that can disappear into a landscape, but at the touch of a button be lifted above the treetops to provide wonderful panoramic views.

Speaking exclusively to Dezeen, Associate Director and Project Architect Steven Chilton said: “The inspiration comes from a fascinating brief to create an individually crafted and beautiful home.

The design derives from a simple cubic composition inspired by the work of Donald Judd.  Unique in design and function, and unlike any other home in the world, it will offer a memorable, moving, living experience.”

In plan, the villa is divided into four clearly defined zones, of which it is possible to elevate two, depending on the internal arrangement and client’s requirements.

The clean simplicity of the forms concentrates the relationship between the villa, the viewer and its environment.

Externally the moving element transforms the villa into a kinetic sculpture creating a unique spectacle with an assured quality.

Inside, bespoke designs by interior specialists Candy & Candy will frame spectacular views that would slowly be unveiled as part of the villa rises up above the surroundings bringing the horizon into view, creating a unique, memorable, and heightened feeling.

Engineers Atelier One designed the lifting mechanism which pushes a support column up out of the ground raising the moving element of the villa from its lowered position to the required height.

The lifting mechanism has been designed such that the lifting, at around 10cm per second, is gentle and steady. The moving element of the villa can be lowered more quickly as it is easier to drop the structure than lift it.  This means it would take about five minutes to reach its full height above ground and about three minutes to descend.

The support column and the moving element of the villa are balanced by 260 tonnes of steel plate acting as a counter-weight suspended in a cradle and guided within a central inner steel tube structure, and are driven by eight 22kW drive motors, equivalent in total to an energy efficient family sized vehicle.

Click for larger image

Redundancy is designed into the system of motors and gearboxes such that in the event of failure of a single drive unit the mechanism will function as normal, with no reduction in performance.

Working with dynamic specialists Motioneering, dampers have been designed into the structure to limit the dynamic response of the structure at various heights and wind speeds to ensure the highest levels of comfort.

To maximise the economic efficiency of the structure, the structure is restricted from being elevated during very high winds. The high wind limit for this is around Beaufort Scale 7 which is described as when whole trees are in motion and effort is needed to walk against the wind. In these cases the moving element of the villa would remain comfortably in its lowered position.

Posted on Wednesday January 20th 2010 at 9:40 pm by Chris Barnes. Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • Norm

    Is this a real project?

    Looks like classic paper architecture, all pretty pictures but zero chance of ever happening

  • Kelly D

    Amazing idea, nice execution too, has the makings of a classic, maybe future home of Steve Jobs!

  • Fromage

    Looks like Ken Adams Bond era set design, all its missing is a thid nipple!

  • Renton Kopicnic

    In many ways this project seems very inappropriate, however, it makes me smile so for that I have to applaud it

  • William

    JG says:

    ‘I can’t decide whether this is an environmental and aesthetic outrage or a work of total genius….I’m inclined to think its both.’

    I couldn’t agree more with this view, there is something other wordly about this house that is both beautiful and wrong. It would be interesting to know if the designers made it look so corporate on purpose as it has seemingly been worked up in some detail? Putting a big slab of 80’s American HQ in the countryside before foisting a big slab of it into the air is an act of gross insensitiviy, but somehow it seems to work in a way it shouldn’t ? As a juxtapostion it makes a strong iconic statement which leaves a powerful image on the mind in a way I haven’t experienced since first seeing the Twin Towers. It would be nice to think this has been made to have this effect on purpose as I really have to say I like this project very much.

  • Mersiha Karic

    “p daddy Says: Its the Villa Savoye on acid, love it!!”

    I agree!!!!

  • trevor distance

    as much as i like the look of it, i don’t understand why it needs to move

    personally, i have a treehouse in my garden for when i want to feel special and, for the times when i feel the need for privacy, i have an armchair and a box of wine in the shed

    as for environmental sensitivity, if being considerate some of the time made up for being otherwise offensive, my wife would never have left me

  • Pinky33

    Come on everyone, so much negativity, why is it that when anyone tries to do something abit different the haters come out to shoot it down?

    This project is the most fun I’ve seen on this site for ages, who wouldn’t want a ride in that crazy box?! Go for it guys, your project is really cool!

  • trevor distance

    on reflection, i can see how it would fun to ride up and down in my living room

    i still don’t buy the bit about sensitivity

  • Sagan Lazar

    I love a good view as much as the next guy, but this is greedy and self-indulgent to an extreme. Must one see a good view either on a whim OR all the time? And do so at the expense of so many other concerns? I’m not being negative: on the contrary. I would like this kind of “fun” on an even grander scale. Just not for a handful of people who have the money to own it.

  • Gabi

    Am I the only one noticing the 40 meter (or more) deep “elevator” shaft? I wonder who is going to excavate an amount of earth equivalent to that needed for a skyscraper foundation to build one dull looking single-family residence? You can enjoy the view from a hillside house or enjoy nature with a nice park-like garden, but trying to get both by building a glass box on top of a mineshaft-like hole is, to me, simply stupid. And you need 176 kW to operate the damn thing!

  • mb

    View isn’t a concept to build a home, it’s inherent to architecture…
    The gesture that is made here is unnecessary to the surroundings that are presented in the renders.This design isn’t about living anymore, it’s almost hilarious.
    Everything in this design is put aside here just to ensure that you have a spectacular view, it seems to me that this approach creates more problems instead of solving the design problem.

    Are there any plans yet? I hope so. How did they otherwise decide to work with 4 (ugly?) volumes? What is their relationship to eachother?
    How does it account with the environment it’s placed in? Isn’t it pretentious to build something like that, you’re claiming and disturbing a whole scene/view for all the people on the ground, what a kind of egoïsm is that?

    Ever heard of a skyscraper?
    260 tonnes of steel? How much? 260..
    Is this a house?

    And please stop comparing this to Koolhaas’ maison à bordeaux, it’s not because of the similarities in form or moving elements that you can compare them..

    I’m not a hater, but I can’t find any answers to the questions that are raising in my head.

  • Q

    ridiculous much!? =D

  • jm dont have to prove that the villa could be anywhere to find a client. I suppose the unique client would like to have a unique villa on a unique place… This catalogue project just degrade the ever-coolest “elevator” buildings in Zlin and Bordeaux.

  • gaque

    i think the idea of escaping into the clouds is pretty neat.

    what i have a problem with is the terrible façade design. i guess they just copied it from a 1980s skyscraper in texas? please don’t construct this house without reconsidering the façade.

  • tanya telford – T

    the association with artist Donald Judd’s work helps me understand the thinking behind this a little bit better although not 100%, definitely curious about this,

  • Ringo

    Am curious about why so many people comment on this building, its just a simple set of reflective boxes where two can move into the sky…

    I get the feeling alot of the critical comments are motivated by jealousy as the building is obviously for a rich person.

    I just see the building from a designers point of view and think it’s really pure in what it is and what it does, so what that I couldn’t afford one in a million years I hate bankers as much as the next guy, but I think it’s the inherent exclusiveness of the project that’s pi**ed so many off to leave all these comments.

    Any other thoughts on this?

  • trimtab21

    Redux of the Bacardi Building, Miami, FL

  • tanya telford – T

    “The clean simplicity of the forms concentrates the relationship between the villa, the viewer and its environment”.

    Ive been thinking about this, and looking more at the photos, in my mind I can more understand and imagine this being built in a very rual area, the owners really appreciating landscape and nature, and protecting it (i think maybe as Donald Judd did), maybe by making nature reserves and things.

    I find it more difficult to appreciate this building and make sense of it in the photos of the – (seems like) – eastern villages. If i was commissioning it or designing it for those locations, based on the designs shown here I would definitely want a redesign/reinterpretation etc, because in those locations I think the sense is very different,

  • silverspurr

    Great ideea and design. But definatelly not suitable for any location and higly expensive to build and sustain.

  • jerry szczur

    I love the whole feeling of being suspended six stories high. Maybe one of the requirements is to have a certain amount of land.I would also worry about zoning.

  • completely unnecessary. (i’m going to set up a towercrane near my house.)
    what a waste of material, what a rough structure. towercrane is the best.

  • Beeza

    Was sent a link to this by an enthusiastic friend and can totally understand why, wow, what an amazing proposal! I would die to live in a house as cool as that! Really surprised by some of the comments people have left here, personally I kind of like the look of the facade, it appears to reflect the surroundings like a strip of mirrors and merges well into the environment. I’m a big fan of Donald Judd and like the way he has been an inspiration for the design. It seems like a very American building which I put down partly to the reflective glass, but also to the way it reminds me of some of the houses designed by the European Modernists who came to the USA around WW2.

  • yoyo

    FUCK YEAH< PLEASE BUILD THIS !!! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !!

    ANYWHERE< doesnt matter…

  • LIA

    uncredible design..
    can’nt predict for the usual human activity..

    But,, it’s a good concept.. ^^

  • Kriszta

    hmm GENIUS LOCI !!! ??

  • Daniella

    Next step is to see the villa levitate from the lifting mechanism/landing dock and transport itself to a holiday villa landing dock.