First profiled a decade ago, we checked back in with the adventurous architect of Biosphere 2 and his plans for his massive, sustainable prefab.
In Dwell’s Dec/Jan 2010 issue, which tackled all manner of speculations about the future of design, former Editor-in-Chief Sam Grawe’s story, “Piece by Pearce”, introduced readers to the Pearce Ecohouse, a mountaintop residence in Malibu proposed by designer Peter Pearce. The idea behind the project was that, when built, it could become “a prototype for a fully sustainable prefab home.”
Pearce, who trained as a product designer, had worked for the Eames Office and Buckminster Fuller before launching Pearce Structures (one of several ambitious Pearce ventures), where he helped develop steel space frame structures that included Biosphere 2 in Arizona, the Navy Pier Winter Garden in Chicago, and American Airlines corporate headquarters in Dallas.
He brought that experience to the Ecohouse, the “culmination of a lifelong quest to home in on the basic principles that drive good design,” wrote Grawe. The crystalline, prefabricated steel frame structure, floating on tall piers, resembled a spaceship landing among the peaks of Malibu. Its lightweight frame—inspired by Pearce’s extensive research on patterns of structure in nature—would provide maximum stability and volume (3,138 square feet of column-free space) while employing a minimum of materials.