Falling House: Why Dorothy Travelled To Oz

  • The Pop-Up City has a penchant for quirky ideas with an element of surprise — they help keep the imagination flowing, prompting us to question the ‘everyday’. Do Ho Suh’s Fallen Star really fits the bill: a full-size house precariously hanging off the edge of a 100-feet building in the middle of a university campus in San Diego.

    Not unlike Dorothy in Oz, Suh found himself in a strange land when he relocated from Seoul to New England for university. Home is both a mental and physical construct, and Suh struggled to reconcile the two. One of his early art projects involved miniature models of his new and old homes colliding. $1.4 million and seven years saw the life-size realisation of that art project as the most recent addition to the Stuart Collection at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD).

    Fallen Star is modeled after a New England cottage, complete with detailed furnishings and a manicured lawn and garden in front. All these details are meant to create a sense of familiarity and comfort. However, the floor is sloped five degrees, which is subtle but just enough to produce a disorienting effect in visitors. This effect is further augmented by the unconventional and seemingly unstable location of the house. It provokes one to ponder the concept of home. How is it created? What are the necessary elements? Dorothy had to go to Oz to get some answers, but inquisitive minds at the UCSD campus can experience the journey right at home.