The brief for my latest assignment at uni (3rd Year at Victoria University’s School of Architecture, Wellington, New Zealand) was very open – design a ‘Big Ass House.’ I imagined a client with unlimited funds that wanted the biggest, craziest house they could get. And here it is, The Corkscrew House.

But we couldn’t start by just designing the house – the ‘idea’ had to come from somewhere else. I’m definitely a car-guy, so my tutor, Dr. Peter Wood, pushed me towards concept cars, and I came think they come down to three main ideas – exaggerated proportions, crisp lines, and speed. I then thought about how in racing, crisp lines and speed go hand-in-hand.


I started looking at famous racetracks around the world, when I came across the image below, of Casey Stoner riding through The Corkscrew at Laguna Seca Raceway. So that was my ‘idea.’ I’d design a house inspired by the vehicle dynamics the corner produces, the way the rider moves relative to the bike, and how speed is the only thing that matters.

The term ‘house’ is used quite loosely. I see it as a building that could be hired for track weekends, rather than someone living there full-time. The garage would house the guests cars, and the house itself would have suites, lounges, etc.


The drawings below show the house’s location on the track, and while it’s obvious I focused mainly on the exterior of the house, I’ve also shown indicatively how the spaces are divided into the three main areas.

There’s a main garage to the left (north), which would connect to the track. The entrance to the house is underground to the garage – this design is all about cars, so the garage is the obvious place to enter. From here, guests enter one of the two main forms.

The one to the west is more public, with viewing platforms and the main lounge. To the east are the private suites for the guests. With more time I would have detailed the interior, but as goes with university, time just flew by.

The main idea of the design is two cars racing each other, entering the corner side by side. Approaching the corner, cars would drive under the two cantilevered viewing platforms, then under the main outdoor area (complete with glass-bottomed pool, of course).

The cars then exit out from under the platform, and down through the Corkscrew. You can see on the image below the sunlight shining between the two forms onto the sand-trap, referencing how close some cars are to each other when racing through the corner.

As the cars exit the corner, they race past the three northern viewing platforms, which were actually one of the harder elements of the building to design. After many different options, I settled on the solution below, partly influenced by the curves of a Lamborghini Miura, and also the stacked exhaust of an MV Agusta F3. Speaking of automotive influences, the red details around the windows were inspired by the blocky graphics of 1970s Muscle Cars; I’ve always thought they looked awesome, and they help add the impression of speed to the house.

The main outdoor area, that the cars race under during their approach to the corner, really gives guests an understanding of what the drivers beneath them are experiencing. The form to the left lifts up from the platform, as though it’s ‘preparing’ for the corner, then drops steeply. This goes back to the idea of concept cars – taking an idea and really exaggerating it. It also forms the viewing platform that looks down on the cars as they exit the corner.

I also designed some tables with the same design language as the entire building, bringing the design down to a human scale. And the Martini Colours have always been a favourite of mine, so they had to make an appearance in there somewhere!

The whole course was 12 weeks long, but this assignment was only xi weeks, and it all went by very quickly! Modelling the main curved forms was a lot harder than I had expected, as you can adjust a curve from one view, but in another view that modification will look horrible. So I probably spent over a week just ‘tweaking’ the curves that define them (6 curves per form).


I modeled the whole house in Rhinoceros 5.0, with the plug-in Grasshopper3D used to help me get all of the curves just right. I rendered the house in 3DS Max, then photoshopped the renders into the background. You may have noticed the Forza logos in the corner of some images – usually I’d photoshop my renders onto photos, but as I live in New Zealand, I couldn’t exactly pop over and take some photos.

I was reading a Jalopnik post about the upcoming Forza 5, when I remembered that you can set up photo-shoots in Forza 4, so I set-up the photos to match the views I wanted of my house, then photoshopped them together. So thanks Forza, I couldn’t have done it without you!

So that’s my design, if you have any feedback, both good and bad, I’d love to hear it in the comments below.


James Schollum is 3rd Year Bachelor of Architectural Studies in Victoria University, Wellington, New Zealand. The photos and text were provided by him for this article