Toronto Star


Special effects designer lets his imaginatio­n run wild in the Gaudi Bat Casa in Mexico


Some people may think they have the house of their dreams, but the Gaudi Bat Casa, in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, is truly the product of Steven Rude’s active imaginatio­n.

A former TV and film specialeff­ects designer in Toronto, Rude decided to turn his talents to designing a home. The resulting Gaudi Bat Casa is proving to be a hit not only with the local journeymen who helped build it, but happy clients who rent it through Airbnb.

Inspired by Spanish architect Antoni Gaudi, the home contains eclectic touches, including staircases that resemble vertebrae, kitchen cabinets that look like alien pods, aqueducts cascading to wooden sinks, a tentacle meditation chair sitting about two metres in the air, and a tree-vine lounge area.

Rude estimates the home cost $300,000 (Canadian) and took two years to build. It is about 1,500 square feet, although it’s difficult to really say given the twists and turns it takes.

We asked Rude a handful of questions about his creation:

Where did you dream up the design for the house?

I’ve been doing special effects for film and TV for the past 20 years and my world has been quite surreal. Tim Burton, Dr. Seuss, very surreal landscape artists like that are a big inspiratio­n for me.

How were the staircases designed?

All my designs start in the computer, so I model it in 3D and show my workers. I haven’t come up with a design yet they can’t execute. The vertebrae just feels like a staircase: a natural incline.

Do your workers have input into the design?

A: They have a very big input into the creative process. I’ll put the design into the computer and show the workers and then I let them go. They’re very artistic and they change things. It comes out that much better because we have that many more people working on it. Sustainabi­lity is a big priority for you. How? The first thing I did was install LED lights through the house that reduced my electrical bill to $150 a year. The second thing was to design the ceiling using volcanic cement, which had lots of breathing holes in it. Because the temperatur­e is so moderate all year round, the house doesn’t require any heating or air conditioni­ng. There’s also an instant gas waterheate­r, so when you turn on the hot water in the house, the water goes through this series of tubes and it’s heated instantly. That’s a huge saving.

What challenges did you have?

I haven’t come up with a big challenge yet. Everything is custom done, so the work is done a bit slower, but the only real challenge was financing it.

What materials did you use?

It’s made of cement, wire mesh and reinforcem­ent bar. The reinforcem­ent bar allows us to span across large areas and reinforce the concrete, so we can do these spectacula­r curved forms that are structural­ly sound. What’s the most fun about designing a house like this? I’m always amazed at the end of the day to see what my builders have done. It makes me cry sometimes. The ideas are very surreal and seeing them transforme­d into reality is so magical for me. For the last 20 years, when I’ve done special effects everything has stayed virtual. With this, everything becomes reality. It’s great to live in your own sculpture.

 ?? STEVEN RUDE PHOTOS ?? This staircase was inspired by the human vertebrae.
STEVEN RUDE PHOTOS This staircase was inspired by the human vertebrae.
 ??  ?? The exterior of the Gaudi Bat Casa pays homage to one of its namesakes.
The exterior of the Gaudi Bat Casa pays homage to one of its namesakes.

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