Acido Dorado / Robert Stone

© Brad Lansill

During February we presented you Rosa Muerta, a project designed by LA based architect Robert Stone. A personal work, built by himself in the , to rent to his friends (check the original article for more on his background).

It generated a powerful debate between the readers, and Robert himself.

For Acido Dorado, another one of his rental projects under Pretty Vacant Properties, Robert decided to write a text specially for ArchDaily readers, a kickstart for the debate:

In appreciation of the immediacy of ArchDaily as a medium- no press release this time. Just some notes to try and share what I am doing with this work.

Somewhere along the way I became interested in meaning, as well as form, in architecture. A reduced abstract approach can be a valuable exercise in pursuit of novel form, and there has been some really exciting work generated by that approach in past decades. But honestly, I began to see its muteness as an expresion of the conservative power that it silently serves, the very stuff that many of us resist in our daily lives. I began to admit the negative connotations of architecture first. Then I eventually found positve ones as well and things got a lot more interesting to me. . .so I followed that path wherever it led. In my case it led through art and design theory and practice, then eventually back to architecture with a very different set of issues, terms and aesthetics. What I discovered was an alternative theoretical basis for architecture that doesn’t overlay meaning on abstract shapes, but instead wrests it from the unstable intersection between the subject, object and real cultural context. I don’t claim to have originated this idea (it underlies virtually all current art practice), and it has none of the hallmarks of the kind of »movement« that architects seem to always want to follow or lead, but it is another serious way of thinking about architecture and I’ll fight for the small space it occupies.

© Brad Lansill

People create meaning through use of a building and by considering it within a context outside itself . . be it a phoney projected futurism, fictional form-generating “forces” (erosion?), some narrative of ecological responsibility, or simple stylistic trends. My goal is to make work that admits its connotations and associations to something more substantial and complex- the real beautiful and messed-up cultural context here where I live (and my beautiful and messed-up friends that live here). My position is that the real cultural context is much more interesting than any invented and simplified one, you just have to be willing to get down with it. You may win and you may lose, but at least it’s a real fight.

© Brad Lansill

By definition, this architecture’s ability to connect may be limited to those that have a deep familiarity (or at least an affinity) with the cultural context here in Southern California. This work wasn’t designed to speak magazine esperanto, but instead, to make some new poetry out of the native toungue. It really helps if you live in a town where all of the streets are named in non-sense guero-spanish. It really helps if you are faced with the surveilant stare of metallic tinted glass corporate offices out your barrio window. It really helps if you’ve skated a pool of an abandoned modern icon, built a road-side death shrine out of flowers and mercedes-benz parts, or shoplifted from the Gucci boutique. However, the trade-off of this limitation is that it becomes possible to make architecture that feels visceral and is relevant to it’s own time and place. Much of it comes from personal experiences and local culture simply because that is where I started. . with the things I know,love, hate and fear. . and honestly grappling with what I find compelling in it all to somehow make new architecture.

© Brad Lansill

From the perspective of mainstream architecture you could easily assume that I am just a punk who actually had no idea that putting a big heart figure on my building might turn some people off, and let that be the end of it. Fine. But if you want more out of it, it’s there. I accept, and experience both it’s positive and negative associations. And that the continous movement between them, and making self-concious the cynicsm that we all bring to new things is part of what makes it interesting to me. The dischord of familiar objects behaving strangely, the sick beauty of written-off aesthetics, along with surprising and careful new details and elegant spatial composition can all be the building blocks of meaningful new architectural experience. I am just saying. . . it isn’t all about making something you or I already like or know what to think about. It’s about making something that’s worth thinking about.

© Brad Lansill

I can’t deny that this approach to architecture poses an implicit critique of some aspects of the current state-of-the-art, and the mostly unquestioned assumption that the content of architecture resides wholely within its abstract form. But I have no stake in that critique beyond my own work. I am on my own desparate search for a way to make architecture that matters. There will always be corporate pop music and worldwide abstract architecture- I am not out to critique it, I just don’t care about it.

© Brad Lansill

For me, the most destabilizing, and therefore potent, aesthetics are those that mess with the known and the unknown. So I work with both, the space inbetween, and the intersections. I like to build from things that I think I know, and use that familiarty to create an odd haiku where all of the elements modify each other for reconsideration moment by moment. I want to drop a new architecture into the crushing flow of cultural meaning and everyday use, let it get battered, polished and transformed, and in turn have it subtly modify the meaning of everything around it. Why? Because that is something I do have a stake in. It’s the real culture I live in, it’s not high or low, it’s just whatever I find around me that can carry new meaning and ideas into the world.


© Brad Lansill
Cite: "Acido Dorado / Robert Stone" 05 Apr 2010. ArchDaily. Accessed 26 May 2015. <>
  • Felipe Goes

    Great building. through the pictures i coould feel a mysterious atmosphere and some kind paradise/dream impression. The effect of the sun-light in the floors and walls is just amazing.

    • Eric F

      This looks like the secret desert hideout for a movie villian.

      The return of Goldfinger perhaps?

  • PatrickLBC

    Absolutely stunning.

    Romantic, unique, alluring, witty, harmonious and honest are words that come to mind.

    At first I was taken aback by the gold monochrome, but as I looked at more photos I realized it is the perfect complement to the desert landscape. And after reading the description, I agree that it is an honest expression of the gaudy and contradictory cultural conditions in SoCal.

    I was also a big fan of the previous project (Rosa Muerta) and was frankly shocked at the verbal bashing it received in the comments section. Robert, you are an amazing talent. Ignore the haters. Keep challenging conventions and making projects that wake people up and make them think for themselves. Thanks for sharing another great project.

  • LMitt

    I am reminded of the last encounter, a month or two back, with the black box in the desert, and the myriad negative comments. This project has its merits. It mainly steers clear of kitsch and even has its share of elegance. It’s not my taste, but I can acknowledge its value on its own terms. But really, sir, why do you insist on playing the philosopher? No, I didn’t plow through all the text. How could anyone? Why do you presume your thought process, perspective on life, and (if I interpret correctly), even your politics, should fascinate us? I don’t CARE about all that. Share it with your therapist, not us! Just show us your work with whatever text suffices to clarify the design and construction. Your bombast makes me want to HATE your projects.

    • Michael

      Robert has a right to present text along with his images.
      Just as you have a right to comment.
      That’s the deal. If you don’t like it, don’t read Archdaily.
      Quite frankly, I don’t find anything overly bombastic or complicated about what Mr Stone is saying. But I do find it disturbing that because you don’t like a piece of text, you have to HATE something (your emphasis, not mine). Why don’t you just ignore it and not comment?
      The fact that you comment at all paints you as exactly the type of person that you HATE.
      Tell it to YOUR therapist (my emphasis, not yours).

  • Justice Rohrenbacher

    Silly architects, when will you learn to just stop talking?

    • tDA

      oh; he definitely doesn’t talk like an architect.
      This text contains real emotion and thought – and every word is relevant to a building he himself imagined and built.
      Most archispeak i’ve read is cut and pasted to impress one tiny audience. Robert is speaking to anyone with an open mind.

  • rodger

    dear oh dear,
    the plans are nice enough but the reality is just a little less disturbing than a cell on rikers island.

  • Adrian

    I hate this house! All because the heart!

  • Fabiano Zacche

    To make a long story short: If you don’t like Robert’s explanation (and I’m not crazy about it as well) you don’t have to read it.

    And the best part is that you really don

  • Fabiano Zacché

    I’m sorry guys, I hit the submit button before I finished… here I go again:

    To make a long story short: If you don’t like Robert’s explanation (and I’m not crazy about it as well) you don’t have to read it.

    And the best part is that you really don’t have to read it at all. And that is exactly the beauty behind this A-M-A-Z-I-N-G building.

    All you have to do is look at it and bingo! You got it. What amazes me is how Robert managed to get such a rich, intricated, dreamy, beautiful, sexy design. And quite a honest one too. This house shows itself completely, hiding nothing under a complex mess of so called organig shapes. Our daily lives are already complicated and full of things that bother us, pull us down.

    Let’s celebrate buildings that are made to make us feel good about themselves, that invite us into relaxation, that somehow simply transport us into somewhere else, somewhere more simple and calm.

    And if you still want to read some explanation on this building I have a short one: form follows truth!

  • DougO

    If there’s something between Rikers Island and Vegas… this might be it.

  • aris_athens

    why so many mirrors? especially on the ceiling. its very disturbing.

  • MDC

    Love it or hate it, I think we might be seeing some defining work here, and it’s not a one hit wonder. This is the best F-you to the people who didn’t get the black house I could have imagined. More beautiful architecture. More thoughtful and writing.

    All of the proportions are different on this one if you look closely. . . but you probably didn’t.

    I actually really love the writing. I read it a few times and went to his website. It’s smart and thoughtful. Not in a “I made up some new words” kind of way like most architecture writing but in a “I actually have some new ideas and I want to get them out there” kind of way.

    Why is it that I only am moved to post on Stone’s projects? I normally don’t care when I see someone post thoughtless comments. Whether you like it or not Stone raises the bar on what architecture can be.

  • MDC

    I just keep looking at these beautiful photos, and reading the text and wondering what is wrong with the state of architecture that we aren’t open to what looks like the first truly new idea in years even when it’s wrapped up in this gorgeous package.

    Frankly, we sound like losers. No wonder all new buildings look the same.

  • OV

    For all you lovers and haters, you can rent this place for $420 per night. Visit it, then make some judgements.

  • papanoa

    perfect place to take some acid…

  • liminal

    Do body builders look beautiful?
    How much salt on your food is too much?
    Its an interesting piece of architecture, it assumes a certain point of view. We don’t all have to agree on everything. Some of the commentators don’t seem to be able to embrace that idea. And take a look around – this is hardly the most radical piece of art/architecture out there

  • sullka

    uh?…isn’t the exact same as his other project (rosa muerta) just in another color?

    At first I thought it was just an artistic intervention on the previous mentioned project.

  • freq

    to all the haters who think Stone’s writing is “too much” or whatever– you clearly haven’t read your share of theory, have you? The man sounds down to earth all right, but he’s an artist, so cut him some slack and let him express his ideas. You think part of the work is “disturbing”, and see that as bad? That just demonstrates you’re so stuck up in your own conservative ideas about architecture that unfortunately you won’t ever be able to understand.
    I’m weirdly touched by the man’s work– those images pry something loose in me, like art should, beyond readymade explanations or generic reasoning – which he avoids, thankfully, especially any clear attribution of meaning. If you’re reading this, Mr. Stone– thanks!

  • INawe

    Someone water the plants please. ;)

  • Chris

    It is really disturbing that architects (or people in general) can be this bitter towards each other, but I think it goes with the Internet as a medium that we’re all very disconnected from each other.

    Well put, Justice, we should all probably just shut up and get back to drawing. And to anyone who talks shit about this building and hasn’t been there, its worth going. The photos are beautiful but the experience of it is better. The ceiling inverts the landscape, drawing it into the building with you. The space keeps you so close to the landscape that it is kind of creepy, but that is what makes it so goddamn beautiful.

    Just see it for yourself.

  • DougO

    Spend the night? ………alone …. creepy.

  • Ben

    Rosa Muerta was a shock to me. I loved it but really questioned it with a heavy inner criticism. I wondered why the hearts, why the ropes, why all this symbolism.

    After reading Robert’s text it really makes sense;

    I grew up in the desert, and am very familiar with the Joshua Tree and 29 palms area. It is a WIERD, TRIPPY part of the country. Its filled with military bases, meth users, Rednecks on ATV’s, Retirees from Minnesota, KB-Home Developments, Casinos, Mexican immigrant cities, and Hippies. No one is normal, I guarantee it.

    Given the context, I really understand how these two projects are a criticism and commentary to both Modernism, and the Mojave Desert area.

    I kind of wonder how Robert intends to keep the place from getting trashed by those rednecks on ATV’s, I have seen a lot of modernist landmarks out there get vandalized and gutted.

  • BV

    This is awesome. I saw it, I got it, I wouldn’t want to live there, but I love where its coming from. If we all took such an honest approach, we’d live in a much more interesting world. Well done Mr. Stone, you’ve created something that causes people to ask questions.

  • Michellllllllllllllllllle

    I love this house… but I don’t know that I would rent it at this location. I’d like to see it built in different climates to see how the change in environment has on the emotional impact of the interior spaces… I’m thinking tons of snow or tons of trees. I would love it in a forest setting, all that green would be exhilarating.