Photo credit: Chris Hanley
By Katherine Clark | Wall Street Journal
It all started when they found out their house was illegal.
In the early 2010s, Chris and Roberta Hanley were enjoying their off-the-grid vacation home in Joshua Tree, Calif., when they were informed that their 720-square-foot prefab house violated local regulations. At the time, Joshua Tree required that homes be at least 20 feet wide, and their modular house wasn’t. If they wanted to keep living on the land, they would have to build something bigger.
Mr. Hanley, a movie producer and artist, quickly got to work sketching an idea for a new home. He was inspired, he said, by the black cuboid monolith in the film “2001: A Space Odyssey” as well as the work of architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, who designed the Seagram Building in New York City. He would later compare the design to an alien life form, or a skyscraper lying on its side.
“I just drew a rectangle on paper and said, ‘OK, we’ll build this,’” recalled Mr. Hanley, 69. “I thought it could just be a monolithic, reflective, ultra-minimal thing.”
The resulting house, completed in 2019 and now coming on the market for $18 million, has an entirely reflective glass exterior that mirrors the rocky landscape, making the property blend in with its surroundings. Designed with the help of architect Tomas Osinski, the so-called Invisible House is well known in the area and has been featured on Netflix’s “The World’s Most Amazing Vacation Rentals.” It has also drawn renters including musicians Diplo and Demi Lovato, the Hanleys said.