Chemosphere / Malin Residence

The Chemosphere, built by American architect John Lautner in 1960, is an innovative Modernist octagon house in Los Angeles, California. The building stands on the San Fernando Valley side of the Hollywood Hills, just off of Mulholland Drive. It is a one story octagon with around 2200 square feet (200m 2) of living space. Most distinctively, the house is perched atop a concrete pole nearly thirty feet high. This innovative design was Lautner's solution to a site that, with a slope of 45 degrees, was thought to be practically unbuildable. The house is reached by a funicular. The lot had been given to a young aerospace engineer by his father-in-law; despite his own limited means, the engineer, Leonard Malin, was determined to live there. The building, which the Encyclopædia Britannica once called "the most modern home built in the world", is admired both for the ingenuity of its solution to the problem of the site and for its unique design. In 1976, the house's second owner, Dr. Richard Kuhn, was stabbed to death at his home in a robbery by two men, who were convicted and sentenced to life in prison. Because of a concrete pedestal, almost 20 feet (6.1 m) in diameter, buried under the earth and supporting the post, the house has survived earthquakes and heavy rains. By 1997, the interior had become run down; for over 10 years it had been rented out and used for parties and as a result the interior finishes had undergone significant alteration. Because of its unique design it proved to be a difficult sell and had sat on the market for most of its time as a rental property. Since 2000, it has been the Los Angeles home of Benedikt Taschen, of German book publisher company Taschen, who has had the home restored; the only current issue with the home is the higher cost of maintenance. The recent restoration by Taschen won an award from the Los Angeles Conservancy. The house forms part of a retrospective of Lautner's work which was shown at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles between August and October 2008. The house was included in a list of all time top 10 houses in Los Angeles in a Los Angeles Times survey of experts in December 2008.

Pop culture
The building was first used in a dramatic film as a futuristic residence in the 1964 ABC-TV program " The Outer Limits: The Duplicate Man," based on a science fiction story by American author Clifford D. Simak. Exterior scenes for the television episode were shot on location; a detailed sound-stage set of the house's interior was built. It was also used in the 1984 film Body Double , directed by Brian De Palma, as the house of a principal character. A set for a scene in Charlie's Angels was inspired directly by the Chemosphere. A similar building also appears in the video game " Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas" near the "VINEWOOD" sign. In an episode of The Simpsons , character Troy McClure resides in a similar flying saucer-shaped home. Hosts on Current TV appear in a set which is an exact replica of the interior of The Chemosphere. The character " Desolation Jones" in the comic of the same name lives in the Chemosphere. In the animated series The Jetsons that first aired two years after the construction of Chemosphere, all buildings are round shaped and supported by poles. In the television series Lost In Space the Robinson family's flying saucer space ship, the Jupiter 2, looks like the Chemosphere.


7 photos and 3 drawings

Building Activity

  • Antonina Ilieva
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