Willem Dafoe’s Rubber House

By
Photography Nikolas Koenig

Published December 1, 2008

 

“The Rubber House was built in 1981 for choreographer Eugene Loring, though he died shortly after the project was completed. It was designed by Tom Pritchard, a landscape architect. It’s covered with a gray-black neoprene sheetskin, a material usually used for the flat roofs of industrial buildings. I was looking for a house upstate, something rustic, like an old farmhouse. This was the first place my real estate agent took me to see, and I was annoyed because the Rubber House was clearly not what I had said I was looking for. But as I continued to search, I kept returning to have another look. Visit by visit, I was seduced, and I finally bought it. One of the best features of the house is that nature has a dialogue with it. The inside looks out, and the outside looks in. While the side exposed to the road is austere, with few windows, the other side is floor-to-ceiling glass, which frames the landscape like a living diorama. When I first got the place, there was so much glass that birds were flying into it and killing themselves. For a while I put sheets of paper over the glass when I went away, but the birds have somehow learned to accept the house. They fly around it. The cat from down the road has never forgiven me! My best memory of the place is lying in bed, watching a storm roll in from over the horizon.” —Willem Dafoe