two islands' award winning mark's house complete in michigan
two islands' award winning mark's house complete in michigan two islands' award winning mark's house complete in michigan
sep 10, 2013

two islands' award winning mark's house complete in michigan

two islands’ award winning mark’s house complete in michigan
image © gavin smith
all images courtesy of two islands



london-based firm two islands won the international flat lot competition held by the flint public art project and AIA flint chapter to design a temporary pavilion in an empty parking area of downtown flint, michigan. ‘mark’s house’ represents abandonment, loss and the importance of shelter. it is designed to raise awareness of the demolishing of thousands of houses after foreclosures forced many families out of town, and the city’s continued efforts in revitalization.


raised a storey above the ground, the 4,000 pound (1,814 kg) structure is designed to withstand 90 mph winds. the tudor-style dwelling cantilevers on top of a mirrored pedestal, and is coated in a 5 mm reflective mylar skin, which makes it blend in with its surroundings, as if it had disappeared. this finish changes with the weather conditions, stretching or wrinkling with varying amounts of moisture in the air. the transitions create a visually intriuging display. underneath the floating building, a ceiling sports 882 lightboxes personalized with hundreds of faces and photos of over 90 global kickstarter supporters. a platform below creates a place to host community events, the first of which was the flint art walk.


see designboom’s previous coverage of the competition-winning project here.


two islands' award winning mark's house complete in michigan
the 4,000 pound (1,814 kg) mylar-clad structure is designed to reflect and withstand the elements
image © gavin smith



two islands' award winning mark's house complete in michigan
each light in the ceiling displays the face of a global donor
image © gavin smith



two islands' award winning mark's house complete in michigan
the platform creates a place for community gatherings and activity
image © jacquie gagne



two islands' award winning mark's house complete in michigan
the ceiling was funded by kickstarter donations totaling over £10,000
image © two islands



two islands' award winning mark's house complete in michigan
image © two islands



project info:


design team: two islands | william villalobos, cesc massanas, tomas selva, scott hook (london, madrid)
structural engineers: nous engineering (los angeles, california)
architect of record: sedgwick & ferweda architects (flint, michigan)
contractor: sorensen & gross construction services (flint, michigan)

  • Flint never looked better than reflected in the reflective skin of Mark’s House. Bravo.

    Mort d'Urban says:
  • I am a Flint resident and having seen this since its beginnings it does not at all look like the initial images that were revealed nor as good as the photos here make it appear. It has been done for three weeks and is already losing its reflective material and many of the photos on the ‘ceiling’ have fallen off, the tape that held them becoming loose with the in-climate weather.
    Locally this is considered an eyesore in its final execution I am afraid.
    I am happy that the area has gotten the attention for this project but sadly the realization of this adds nothing to the culture, or city. I think the designers were sold a bill of goods and their vision was not realized as it could have been and it’s a shame that so much money was put into this project, worse yet was the Kickstarter, for this project.
    This is a failing of the organization behind, above all, but that’s how it goes.

    Chris Arrr says:
  • What a spin these guys put on this. Those photo’s are doctored to the extreme. The thing looks nothing like the photo’s, it is a complete eyesore. Meanwhile these artistic imperialists from New York who came to flint and became “Flint Public Art Project” continue to try to bring us “culture” which costs thousands of dollars and is made by “real” artists from outside Flint….

    Then to try to spin this thing like they succeeded…wow….this project has not been a success in any way, it was a temporary structure that they thought would add to our already thriving cultural events downtown this past summer….well instead it was a construction project that did not get completed untill the end of summer and instead simply took space away from these events.

    The spin these guys created in press release makes for almost completely fabricated articles like this with no truth.

    Flint artist says:
  • Chris, this is unsettling to hear, but much needed from a local. This is yet another lesson learned with competitions. Flashy images are held paramount over budget and practicality. This is really problematic as a profession. The committee should have been better educated.

    zingbat says:
  • Unfortunately, the completed project looks NOTHING like the above photos. I live near downtown Flint and it has become a joke among residents, we can’t wait until it’s gone.

    Mary Mintline says:
  • I have to agree with the first commenter that this project, while initially supported by the community, has been an embarrassment. I have to question the source of your photos, because several appear to be heavily photoshopped.

    Flint Resident says:
  • Unfortunately, this art piece has never looked like the pictures above. I was highly skeptical about the execution of this project when i saw the presentation boards but could just hope for the best. I understand it hit alot of problems with getting permits, funding and im sure coordination which lead to delays and possibly compromised its design. But we would drive by this during the construction and we cringed when we saw the first piece of wrinkled mylar go up. There is a lot of public scrutiny and it being compared to a Jiffy-Pop. I do think the competition was a good idea and the flat lot is used for the seasonal large events such as the “Crim” and “Back to the Bricks” so it could have been a practical piece. However, the final product does not look like these photos and showing these photos, that do not look like what is actually there, is quite frustrating. I hope the flint public arts project continues to do competitions like this, and look forward to seeing something else take place.

    Edward says:
  • Designboom, it is not ethical to show these project photographs when they are confirmed to be (and are obviously) doctored.

    James says:
  • Another example of how “community art” that does not effectively involve the community misses the mark. This structure is not only hogging up parking spaces it does not reflect (pun intended) any part of the revitalization of our city. As a resident who works downtown and passes this thing daily I was patiently waiting for it to be finished and was shocked to be told it was.

    Flintoid says:
  • HA! The real thing looks NOTHING like these photos. It’s less art and more expensive Reynold’s Wrap advertisement. It’s a complete disaster that doesn’t even remotely look like the concept art. The finish date was pushed multiple times and the project has been solely joke material in the area. I encourage everyone to look for the memes on Facebook, trust me, there are dozens. The Flint Public Art Project is merely seizing grant money that could be used for programs and organizations that would actually give back to our community, not blessing us with great art installations as they claim. The house needs to be seen as it actually is by media posting undoctored photos. Give us news, not propaganda.

    Stephanie Hackney says:
  • Just chiming in here to say what everyone else says…these photos are heavily photoshopped. I live downtown and saw the progress of the construction daily. Not even when the first sheet of mylar was applied was it smooth and mirror-like. A good idea that’s become quite the joke, sadly.

    downtown_guy says:
  • I REALLY do wish the final project looked like this! Sadly like others have said.. the final product looks absolutely nothing like these photos. Congrats on whoever edited these pictures, as they are really talented at making awful things look cool. As for the people of Flint, we have to see the real version of this project every time we venture downtown. I guess we can dream.

    Hannah says:
  • I think that this project had great intentions. Due to my position at work I took it upon myself to assist in acclimating the visiting architects to our great downtown. They were absolutely stunned by what they saw. They anticipated coming to a boarded up, war torn area where they would be dodging bullets left and right. Instead what they found was a downtown thriving, full of life and friendly people.

    While the project did not turn out the way intended I find it very saddening that so many people find the need to put down the architects whose vision this was. The blame for the project failing can not solely be placed on one person, or one group. As with most pieces of art you have a vision and you try your best to make that happen. One man, a structural engineer from California, who was part of the Two-Islands team spent countless hours by him self through storm, and 90+ degree weather trying to finish this project. He had very little volunteer help and stayed here for months working on this.

    All in all I believe that the original effect was not attained by the material used. Do I think that the project was a smashing success absolutely not, but do I think that some good came from it yes. People from around the world CARED about Flint Michigan, “The Most Dangerous City In America” and they wanted to come to Flint to do something.

    In the future I hope that this and other competitions of its kind have a solid volunteer backing building up to it so that projects can be executed in an appropriate way ,

    I also hope that my fellow Flint residents can look to the bright side of things. Look for some positives in situations like this.

    Marcus Papin says:
  • Also strange to me is no mention of this project on the official website Flint Public Art Project.
    Last blog post is TUESDAY, APRIL 23, 2013 although not sure about facebook and twitter.
    The leadership of this organization along with the advisors, subconsultants,
    and the most distinguished jury members along with the AIA need to address this publicly.

    Young designers who have had enough of this exploitation have to start writing letters too.

    Get off your duffs and get angry about this !

    Here they are

    Executive Director
    Stephen Zacks

    Director of Programs
    Jerome Chou

    Director of Strategy and Operations
    James Andrews

    Andrew Perkins

    Technical Advisors
    Paul Herring
    Dave Johnson
    Jeremy Whitcome

    Grant Administrator
    Tracey Stewart

    Legal Advisor
    Alfonso Ramos

    Project Coordinator
    Rob McCullough

    Brie Williams

    Web Design & Development
    Cedomir Kovacev


    [email protected]

    124 W. First St.
    Flint MI 48502


    DHC says:
  • Designboom, keeping these photos is deeply unethical. Many posters have noted the questionable nature of whats shown; suggesting they have been heavily doctored. Please respond.

    It would be helpful to see what actual photos really look like.

    Dartan says:
  • I live in Flint. The photos posted up by “Two Islands” have been photoshopped. I invite anyone to come and see or have someone take pictures of what the project really looks like. It’s made of Mylar, so shoddily applied it’s heavily wrinkled. It’s also begun to peel and fall apart. The city of Flint and it’s people were taken advantage of by these con artists. Now they want to pass this monstrosity off as well executed job. They took our money and our faith and quite frankly pissed on it. It makes me doubly angry that they are now adding insult to injury, by lying about the job. What was promised wasn’t delivered. “Two Islands” are scam artists and everyone should know it.

    TommieDot says:

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