Carlo Calma explains the design of his Infinity House

Competing against 14 projects in the Future Building: House Category, Calma will have great fun illuminating what this flowing geometric sculpture means

  • July 12, 2019

  • Written by Judith Torres

  • Photos by Mark Go

A couple of weeks back, Carlo Calma and I were talking about why he and his brother, JP Calma, a general contractor, had decided to become developers and wrest control of the decision-making process that is often taken off the hands of architects.

He said they wanted to do it so they could build projects without compromising their vision. I asked Calma if he considered himself a radical architect and he said no. Instead, he thinks of himself as “a provocateur of ideas as well as exuberance in philosophy.” ‘Exuberant’ is, in fact, the adjective he wishes people would remember him and his designs by. That may well be what the jury at the World Architecture Festival (WAF) in Amsterdam this December 5-7, 2019, will encounter when he presents his project. “I want to do something fun for my presentation!” he says.

Calma is competing against 14 other shortlisted architects from Thailand, Spain, Lebanon, Canada, Kuwait, India, Australia, Mexico, Netherlands, Latvia, China, and New Zealand, in the Future Building: House category.

Below are the images and concept description Calma submitted to the WAF when he turned in his entry, The Infinity House, earlier this year. The text has been slightly edited for publication and exclusive images have been added.

Is Infinity House simply a place to live? Or is it, as our studio views it, a living kinetic sculpture and an example of what we call “architecture of exuberance”?

We imagine a home that feels like falling into an Escher-esque rabbit hole and into an anomalous garden of raw concrete with oxidized metal, bent wood, and textural stone.

As you emerge on the other side of the doors of perception, the gaze of the mind’s eye expands in sensory reverence with scale and proportion-defying cathedral-like space of absurdities and improbabilities.

Read about Carlo and JP Calma’s Calma Properties’ Museum of Architecture to be designed by Sou Fujimoto

There is a distinct sense of being in a place disjointed from time—one that is beyond reason yet strangely familiar and comforting.

The design of the house is a hybrid of the natural and artificial worlds: nature is represented in the free-flowing space and sectional portals like floating in gravity.

The artifice is embodied in utilitarian function and intuiting the paradoxical potential in prosaic and surreal forms.

Read about BAAD Studio’s win in WAF 2018.

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Consider the grand curvilinear staircase made of weathered steel with details that resemble eyes—a kind of monster.

The same refers to the half-moon ceiling lights that look like a flock of luminescent birds in flight, again demonstrating a collision of the natural and artificial.

One feels the flow of nature as the Infinity House changes character from day to night. 

By day, it is bathed in texture—a space where people can create and exhilarate in the literal and metaphorical wonders of the house; a space where we are encouraged to contemplate not only the aesthetic quality but also the polemics of the material and immaterial realms.

By night, unseen details in the Infinity House come alive in startling ways, and a resounding silence descends upon the space. 

Read the winning presentation of Furunes and Locsin, which garnered them the Small Project of the Year at WAF 2017.

The contrast of materials become starker and textures shift in an interplay of light and shadow that becomes the stage for the materiality to display its more dramatic qualities.

The ‘infinite’ quality of the house is portrayed in the use of persistent fluid details and how materials bend and fold in endless iterations—like peeling off the skin from the structural bones; a kind of naked architecture.

See the World Architecture Festival 2018 category winners

The Infinity House feels as one flowing, breathing organism that becomes a living entity by the value of human condition and experience. As once a fetishized sculptural object—it is no longer an object but a storyteller. 

It embodies sensual narratives, a kind of container of memories of the illicit kind.

Watch out in the coming days for exclusive images of Filipino and ASEAN entries to WAF 2019, as well as images of the competition in their categories!