Future forms: Lo Monaco House by Tom Wiscombe Design


May 16, 2013

Lo Monaco House by Tom Wiscombe Design (Image: Tom Wiscombe Design)

Lo Monaco House by Tom Wiscombe Design (Image: Tom Wiscombe Design)

Image Gallery (9 images)

The architectural designs of Tom Wiscombe are overtly futuristic, to the point that were you to drop his concepts into the depictions of the London and San Francisco of the year 2259 in Star Trek Into Darkness, they wouldn't look out of place. His Lo Monaco House almost resembles a futuristic shuttle on a launchpad, yet the influences for this design are entirely removed from the realm of space fantasy – according to Wiscombe himself, that is.

The Lo Monaco House concept is a tale of two forms: an eye-catching crystal-like pointed mass (a deformed six-pointed star, from above) and the slab-like pedestal it stands on. The crystal contains the living room, kitchen and dining area. Bedrooms and private studios are reserved for the pedestal level below, where there is also a pool.

Wiscombe writes that this layout was informed by work of Romanian-born sculptor Constantin Brâncuși, who carved simplified depictions of human heads and animals, typically reduced to more basic shapes.

Constantin Brâncuși's Portrait of Mlle Pogany with its limestone pedestal

Often Brâncuși's sculptures were presented on a pedestal that formed an integral part of the work itself (to which it is sometimes viewed as being equally important).

The layout of Lo Monaco House (Image: Tom Wiscombe Design)

In the crystal, two large irregular windows face north and south, both surrounded by smaller windows, and outlined by solid and dashed black lines in the building's many angled (and many-angled) facades. Wiscombe compares these lines to Tā moko, the tattoo-like grooves with which Māori people permanently mark their faces and bodies.

An 18th-century depiction of a Māori man with distinctive Tā moko (Image: Alexander Turnbull Library)

Pointed forms tend not to make for the most efficient use of space, but a glimpse through the windows shows that the rooms within are large enough for wasted corners not to be an issue. If space for such a project would be difficult to find in the crowded cities of the early 21st century, it's hard to envisage a contemporary city (including Monaco) in which Lo Monaco House wouldn't look out of place regardless. Perhaps at some point in the next few centuries, Wiscombesque forms will find a physical home.

The influences of creative works are interesting, but it would be remiss not to relay the final line of Wiscombe's bio. "Tom began his career as an intern at NASA's Goddard Spaceflight Center, where his father is Chief Scientist." Just sayin' – and I hadn't read that when I wrote the words futuristic shuttle and launchpad.

Source: Tom Wiscombe Design, via Evolo

About the Author
James Holloway James lives in East London where he punctuates endless tea drinking with freelance writing and meteorological angst. Unlocking Every Extend Extra Extreme’s “Master of Extreme” achievement was the fourth proudest moment of his life. All articles by James Holloway

Next few centuries? How about next Thursday...

Robert Walther

It takes a while for people to lose their fears of being different, being trendy as far as making the trends. Slowly I see in architecture, things are loosening up more and more. I think its a good thing. Im tired of the next new box...


If you counted all the bizarre class projects from every college of architecture around the globe, you'd have thousands of bizarre house designs, many are the equal to this one. Every architect dreams of some person walking into his/her office and saying these words: "I have lots, and lots of money and I want you to design a really expensive, really unusual house for me. I want a house that will be very hard to resell if I ever move because it will be so expensive per square foot and it's appearance will put off most people who are less willing to live in a freak show. I don't care that many of my future neighbors will hate the house and some will sue me over it. I also don't care that I won't be allowed to build it in a neighborhood with a homeowner's association, so I can't get into a gated community with other rich people like me. I know it's unlikely that anyone would loan me money to build it, and I know the plan reviewers at the county/city will require more extensive/expensive engineering." Because this is not a project with a real client, it's abundantly clear that Wiscombe is one of the dreamers. I think I'm making it clear that Mr. Wiscombe is not unusual, or special in the architectural world - the reason we don't see more houses like this is not because we lack designers who are willing and able, but it's because we lack clients who are willing and able. The problems simple, houses like this cost far more than boxes do, and most people don't want the "special" attention that comes with living in an architect's dream. Personally, I'd like to see more "creative" houses being built, but I know why they aren't. I'll bet that the majority of people who read this article are architects, or fans of architecture, meaning people who dreamed of becoming an architect. There may be one person who reads this that meets the requirements for the dream client and will get this design built - but I doubt it.


Isn't it Cold looking? I wouldn't want to live there

Matthew Jacobs
Post a Comment

Login with your Gizmag account:

Related Articles
Looking for something? Search our articles