Skip to main content

Upstate New York's amazing 'ReActor' house is like a home on a seesaw

Bored with your current living arrangement? Then maybe you should consider moving to the ReActor house: an impressively zany creation by architect-artists Ward Shelley and Alex Schweder, currently installed at the OMI International Arts Center, in Ghent, New York.

Basically a giant seesaw with 360-degree movement, the house tilts and rotates in response to both prevailing wind conditions and the varying weight distribution of its occupants.

“ReActor is part of a series of architectural pieces Alex and I have made that put two inhabitants in a space that reflects and even determines their relationship,” Shelley told Digital Trends.

“We [previously] made a piece called Stability that had a feature in common with ReActor: the balancing and tipping. The two inhabitants have to work together to keep the piece balanced; they have to move together to corresponding positions.”

The concrete column at the center of ReActor is 15 feet tall, while the house measures 44 by 8 feet. It contains a foldaway kitchen and bathroom, shower, chemical toilet, pair of beds, propane stove, storage, and more — alongside plenty of furniture. In other words, it’s a real home — or real enough that our two intrepid architect-artists were willing to spend five days living there between July 27 and 31 this year.

Rotating and tilting house accommodates two artists for five days

“Being in ReActor is peaceful and pleasant; a little magical and Utopian,” Shelley continued. “It is set in a beautiful landscape, and that becomes 50 percent of your awareness. The sides are all transparent, so it is just like being outside, but you aren’t: You are in a comfortable chair with a drink and a book, just drifting slowly, like drifting down a wide lazy river. Sometimes the structure groans like on old wooden sailing ship, [but] mostly it’s quiet.”

The one downside of the home’s transparent design, he said, came on particularly sunny days. “On the hottest days we could have wished for some sun shades,” he admitted. “We were not surprised by that and I am glad we tested it without shades or awnings — [but] I think I would have shades if I was going to spend summers in ReActor.”

However, that was not enough to stop them from agreeing to return to the house for two more stretches later this year — on September 24-25 and October 6-10.

“We will be coming back in about four weeks to try Indian summer, and then later again for a fall visit,” he noted. “We want to experience the different seasons. We will be installed here for two years, so we’ll know a lot more before it’s over.”

And does he feel like the pair have stumbled on a new way of living that we’ll all be rushing to try out? It’s not quite that straightforward. “We came into this thinking ReActor is an artwork, not a house,” Shelley said. “At the core of ReActor is an absurd idea: it is a ‘house’ built for two people, but they can’t be together because it will go out of balance.”

But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t serve a useful purpose. A bit like high fashion — where the concepts introduced on runways are meant to serve as extreme examples of the clothing that eventually filters out to regular buyers — concepts like this explore interesting concepts that can then be built upon.

“It asks questions, floats suggestions, imagines the far-fetched,” Shelley noted. “It all can be sorted out later. With ReActor, I don’t think we were looking at the future of marketable architecture per se; we were looking at aspects of culture and the human condition — and working with those ideas through created spaces.”

And even though you might not want to live in the ReActor home permanently (although it would be great for families with moody teenagers who don’t want to be anywhere near their parents), he’s not convinced it wouldn’t have a place as a fun novelty home for short vacations.

“Probably in terms of everyday [life], you wouldn’t find it practical to live in a tipping, twirling house,” Shelley concluded. “But you might choose to stay in one for a holiday or a retreat, because it is a very rich experience. As I said, this is not what we were expecting or intending, but this is what we came out with. So we are thinking about that. We definitely want to do more with this.”

So one for Airbnb, then? Heck, we’ll take the plunge. Literally.

Luke Dormehl
I'm a UK-based tech writer covering Cool Tech at Digital Trends. I've also written for Fast Company, Wired, the Guardian…
Best Buy deals: Save on laptops, TVs, appliances, and more
best buy shuts down insignia line smart home products store 2 768x768

Best Buy is always a great retailer to turn to if you’re looking for some savings. There are almost always Best Buy deals taking place on TVs, appliances, and devices we use to navigate the digital world. In fact, right now at Best Buy you can find some of the best TV deals, best laptop deals, and best phone deals that can be shopped, and we haven’t even mentioned the deals on tablets and home audio equipment currently taking place at Best Buy. We’ve rounded up all of the best Best Buy deals you can shop right now and categorized them for your convenience below, so read onward for some great opportunities to save.
Best Buy TV deals

There may be no better place to purchase one of the best TVs than Best Buy. There is almost always some huge savings to find on TVs at Best Buy, and that’s certainly the case right now. You’ll find deals top TV brands like Sony, Samsung, and LG, and more budget-friendly brands like TCL and Hisense are in play, too.

Read more
Dyson’s new AR mobile app shows where you forgot to clean
A person using the Dyson AR app.

Dyson has always been on the cutting edge of vacuum technology, with heaps of premium vacuums filling the pages of its product catalog. Now, the company seems to be branching out to the world of augmented reality, with the reveal of Dyson CleanTrace -- a new feature on the MyDyson mobile app that shows you all the spots in your home that are yet to be cleaned.

Using Dyson CleanTrace is simple, though it comes with pretty strict limitations. For one, it only works with the expensive Dyson Gen5detect cordless vacuum. It also requires a smartphone with a lidar scanner (like an iPhone 15) and a special clamp to attach your phone to the vacuum (which is yet to receive a price tag). With all that out of the way, you'll then be able to launch the MyDyson app and access the CleanTrace feature for free when it arrives in June.

Read more
Arlo Pro 3-pack of security cameras is down to $400 from $700
A woman assembling a Arlo Pro 5S on a wall.

For anyone keen to make their home more secure and accountable through a set of security cameras, Best Buy is currently the place to go for security camera deals. At the retailer, you can buy a three pack of the highly regarded Arlo Pro 5S Spotlight Security Camera for $400. That means you’re saving a huge $300 off the regular price of $700. This is the ideal time to upgrade your home security for less and we’re here to tell you all about it before you commit to a purchase.

Why you should buy the Arlo Pro 5S Spotlight Security Camera
Arlo makes some of the best home security cameras around with pretty much its entire range being worth your time and money. With the Arlo Pro 5S, you get a great level of detail. There’s two times the video resolution of HD so you can zoom in up to 12 times to see sharper details. Due to its night vision, you can also see color at night for better identification of what’s going on. A wide 160-degree field of view combined with auto image correction cuts down on fish eye effect so everything looks just how you would expect it to. There’s also AI object detection so the Arlo Pro 5S is capable of detecting if something is a package, person, vehicle, animal or similar.

Read more