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The Invisible House.

Reflecting Land, Art, and Eco-Conscious Design with Invisible House

Explore the details behind Invisible House—the iconic mirrored structure anchoring the Joshua Tree desert.

Only two hours east from the bustle of Los Angeles, the Mojave Desert horizon stretches endlessly along rugged terrain. Although close enough to drive to, it’s a quiet place where visitors can escape contemporary life through clusters of boulders meeting rare desert plants and wildlife—all looking for the sun. Here, the enigmatic Invisible House in Joshua Tree also stands. 

Invisible House DNA

The Invisible House. Photo by StayFieldtrip, courtesy of The Invisible House.

The unmissable design marvel was imagined in 2020 by owners Chris and Roberta Hanley—the couple known for their films like American Psycho and The Virgin Suicides. Designed by Mr. Hanley in collaboration with famed architect Tomas Osinski, it’s less of a dwelling and more of an embodiment of the Hanley’s values and dreams, informed by a passion for architecture and hospitality, a focus on responsible living, and art making and collecting. Over the years, the Hanleys have amassed an impressive collection of art by named like Damien Hirst, Marc Quinn, Anton Corbijn, Malerie Marder, Chris Ofili, Joseph Chege, Roberto Moro, Ivey Balderson, David Fruchter, Richard Onyango, and Jenny Holzer, among others.

Reflecting Land, Art, and Sustainability

The Invisible House. Photo by Ambra Crociani, courtesy of The Invisible House.

Recently, the architectural icon—which famously got its name for its reflective “invisible” exterior—hit the real estate market for 18 million dollars, and Whitewall took a trip to balmy Joshua Tree to toured the LEED- and EPD-certified home. Cantilevered 100 feet off the ground on a site of 90 acres, it greets the eye with sleek, geometric lines, punctuated by its sharp rectangular shape. Then, a mirage effect occurrs, with the exterior’s reflective and refractive Solarcool glass facade mirroring the landscape. Low-slung and modern, the home is also topped with a Sunpower solar panel-covered roof, connected to a smart app net metering system that powers heating for the home’s electricity, pool, and hot water. Across the site, a prefabricated Office of Mobile Design guest house by Jennifer Siegal also appeared. 

A Horizontal Skyscraper

The Invisible House. Courtesy of The Invisible House.

“I feel very comfortable with these horizontal skyscrapers over rocks that reflect the surroundings,” Mr. Hanley told Whitewall via Zoom. “It’s a big sculpture that you can live in, but it’s also getting back to the 2000 space as it was built—like a structure that was meant to be a science fiction object, where it not only had some relationship to the stars, but other galaxies and metaverses. You didn’t have to build combined elements as if humans didn’t make it; they were just the puppets, like some aliens at the edge of the universe. I wanted a hand in the human sculpture. I wanted to have fun. It’s meant to be conceived like the way we do a movie.”

Inside Invisible House

The Invisible House. Courtesy of The Invisible House.

Past a herd of Bighorn sheep perched atop neighboring rocks, we then made our way indoors to explore 5,500 square feet of space. Three bedrooms, four bathrooms, a living room, a kitchen, and a 100-foot indoor solar swimming pool unfolded. Although toasty outside, inside it was cool—powered by the solar and thermal systems the green home is known for. We later learned that every energy data point was tracked and optimized by the hour, available on a SmartThings app. Furthermore, Alexa and Samsung Smart home systems were on command for other requests. 

The Invisible House. Courtesy of The Invisible House.

Elevated lighting fixtures and furniture designs adorned the space, reflecting the Hanley’s love of quality design pieces, including Minotti, Boffi, Piero Lissoni, FLOS, Miele, and Gessi items and even marble bed frames designed by Mr. Hanley himself. Tucked into the corner of the master bedroom, a special guitar awaited a musician overnighter: a transparent design named Invisible Guitar after The Invisible House, created by Dan Armstrong and played by Aerosmith’s Joe Perry.

“There’s a sense of detachment in creating a work of art with an ultimate goal of the world experiencing the art,” said the Hanleys.

What’s Next for the Hanleys

The Invisible House. Photo by StayFieldtrip, courtesy of The Invisible House.

Although a dream to create The Invisible House stretched over 17 years, it has seen many famous guests since its opening in 2020, including Lizzo, Diplo, Alicia Keys, Demi Lovato, U2, Seth Rohan, and Anthony Vacarello, among others. Beyond this property, the Hanley’s interest in large-scale projects encompasses other sites and landscapes, too, including the Whitaker Container House Project, inspired by James Whitaker’s proposed German office comprising a cluster of angled shipping containers; the Honeymoon House in Lamu, Kenya, which they’ve owned for over 30 years; and a former cannabis production property in Landers, CA, which was recently renovated and renamed Grow House. 

The Invisible House. Courtesy of The Invisible House.

Next, the Hanleys aim to build the Starburst Container House Project near The Invisible House in the Joshua Tree desert. Also inspired by Whitaker’s architecture, it will feature a cluster of white shipping containers stacked and emerging like a starburst from the rocky ground up.

The Invisible House. Courtesy of The Invisible House.

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