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.

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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.