An Interview with the Architect of the Shape-shifting D*Haus

By June 30, 2016 Industry No Comments

When Triangle Met Square: The Dynamic House


“To actually change the debate on architecture for the better is something that drives us forward.”

Where can you find a house that transforms into different shapes according to each season? Currently only in Great Britain, as far as we know. Much like those origami fortune tellers you made on recess when you were a kid (but in a much more sophisticated way) , the geometric-inspired D*Haus opens and moves in a dynamic fashion. This mind-boggling tiny house intrigued us, so we were thrilled to chat about it with the London-based architect behind the design, Daniel Woolfson.

Daniel Woolfson (left) and the D*Haus team.

What trend in architecture today do you love? What do you hate?

We love intelligent buildings — those that are sustainable and have the ability to generate and store energy. We also love buildings that can move, adapt and change with the seasons or climatic conditions. We hate buildings with meaningless egocentric cladding systems and with pointless over-the-top decorations.


Fair enough. If you could describe the most defining moment / work of your career, what would it be?

I think it was when Sir David Chipperfield hand-picked the Dynamic D*Haus model for the center of his architecture room at the Royal Academy Summer Show. It was the moment the D*Haus company was born and that we really started to believe in our design philosophy. In that moment, we chose to back the company with hearts and minds.

Do you add personal touches to the houses you design?

We are actually against the architect leaving a signature per se. However, all our houses stem from the 1903 mathematical discovery by Henry Ernest Dudeney, which allows a perfect triangle to be transformed into a square. All our designs start with the formula because the houses are a direct result of pure geometry, they end up looking very identifiable in their own right.


Designing dynamic homes must be different than designing homes that stay static. Tell us about some of the challenges that go along with producing a metamorphic home.

There are many challenging aspects to the Dynamic D*Haus, but that’s partly why we do it; it’s the adventure of the project. Because we design dynamic homes, the biggest challenges to-date are in the movement mechanisms and connection doors.


What do you love most about London architecture?

We love the variety and mixture of old and new buildings. Right now, there’s so much development happening in the city you can find century-old buildings right next to modern glass skyscrapers. London architecture is always changing, so as architects it’s interesting to see how the city is changing and developing as we live in it.


How would you like to be remembered?

I want to be known as someone who was innovative and experimental. It’s an honor to create buildings and spaces that meet the needs of our clients. But to actually change the debate on architecture for the better is something that drives us forward. The D*Haus concept is just one approach to solving some of the problems facing designers today … and taking the project forward definitely opens the discussion on what future design should look and feel like and how it can be achieved.

When you need a break from designing or running your company, what do you do?

Head to Hampstead Heath, one of the largest parks in London with fantastic views over the city. It’s a great place to get some time to think and inspire.


What is your favorite part of the process in designing a home?

The challenge of working with a client to achieve a design that both we — they — are happy with. Every client is different, and it’s a really thought provoking and personal experience to work with someone on what will eventually be their own home. Norman Foster said, “A building is only as good as its client,” and we believe this is a strong starting point on which to embark on the design of a home. When people are passionate about what they believe in, we always find we can achieve something great together.

What is your personal space like?

It’s a Victorian property which has high ceilings and original features similar to those found in many period properties around the city. It’s currently undergoing a refurbishment in which we hope to retain its character with some modern interventions.


While you don’t necessarily build tiny houses, your homes aren’t ostentatiously sized, either. Do you think it’s possible to live “the good life” in a smaller space?

Absolutely. One of the challenges we face when working in cities is trying to make the best use of the spaces we have available to us. We aim to make spaces as flexible as possible by designing in the ability the use spaces in more than one way. This comes from a careful consideration of what type of activities will be carried out in each area, and allowing for that to happen.

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