Darkitecture: The Art of Haunted Houses
Marvel has long been known for its creative use of challenging spaces, as well as its dedication to meeting the needs of its clients. Both of which were put to the test with our recent project for Constantine and Ambrosia Vampira, two young vampires in their late 300’s who wanted to renovate a haunted house of their dreams. The abandoned asylum turned dilapidated Victorian built on 3-acres of ancient burial ground was ideal for the Vampira family, but not without its challenges.
Marvel designs for people (alive and immortal). With each project we determine our clients’ needs, assemble a top-notch team, and get to work. Here is the story of how Marvel Architects helped convert a haunted house into a haunted home.
For the Vampiras, Halloween is not a holiday, it’s a lifestyle. So, when it came to renovating their new home, they had a few key requirements:
- A deterring exterior
- A bone-chilling interior
- Secret passageways
- Marvel engages in a thorough discovery process that results in distinct concepts for each project.
- Working with a single-family residential home there is plenty of potential for grandeur, especially when it comes to the exterior. First impressions are indeed everything, and nothing says ‘don’t come in’ like an ornate wrought iron gate. However, the Vampiras were still concerned about nosy neighbors, so we suggested going all-in on a moat and drawbridge. While a bit arcane, a yard full of alligators accomplishes a lot more than a ‘Beware of Dog’ sign.
- We meet design challenges by listening to our surroundings.
- In the case of the Vampiras, we wanted to do more than listen, we wanted to evoke screams. That’s why we retrofitted the staircase with paulownia, a soft wood conducive for creaking, and then upgraded the hinges on the shutters which would allow them to flail noisily in the wind. Pairing the acoustical with the visual, we advocated for random splatters of paint along the walls, as well as decorative ornamentation inspired by The Shining. Nothing says “Hi honey, I’m home” like an axe hacked through the front door.
- Our collaborative, horizontal structure expands naturally to engage consultants in the design process.
- Our team of consulting engineers tackled the request for secret passageways and recommended several additions, from trap doors to hidden tunnels and even a Frankensteinian laboratory. Less isn’t always more. The trick was to maintain the decrepit state of the interior while ensuring the additional features were functioning and up to code. Safety is important, even when you’re designing for the un-dead.
The Vampiras said that with a house so haunting they were finally able to rest easy. And with that, we boarded up the doors and windows, crossed the moat, and went on our way—leaving the happy couple to bask in the haunting, candle-lit bliss of home-ownership.
We are grateful for the poison apple gift basket they sent us, but mostly we are thrilled to have helped them achieve their dream home. Even if it was kind of a nightmare.