Robert Downey Jr.’s 6,500-square-foot binishell home in Malibu wouldn’t look out of place in Iron Man. “If this [house] were a movie with a budget that we’d been charged with producing, we would have been fired 12 times,” Downey Jr. told T Magazine, intentionally or otherwise channeling his inner Tony Stark.
Sitting on Downey Jr.’s seven-acre estate alongside his main home, a large pool and a tennis court, the undulating bungalow (dubbed the “Clubhouse” by the actor) gives off a striking retro-futuristic look, one that’s equal parts utopian refuge and Spy Kids lair. Its unique look is drawn from its Binishell construction, a method created by industrial designer Dante Bini in 1964. Binishell homes are created by covering a nylon-coated neoprene air bladder in wet steel-reinforced concrete, then slowly inflating it. The mixture cures in about an hour, and produces a thin-shelled, aerodynamic bungalow.
Downey Jr.’s Binishell was made by Bini’s son Nicolò, who told T Magazine that his intention wasn’t to “propagate” his father’s work, but instead “figure out a better way of building.” The younger Bini was commissioned to build the home in 2013, right when Downey Jr. was finishing the filming of the original Iron Man trilogy, as the actor and his family wanted a stand-alone structure to entertain friends as well as house longer-term guests.
The bungalow features a wide-open plan, with a front door that opens into a foyer with a large saltwater aquarium. There are two guest bedrooms, each with a view of Bill Barminski’s Toxic Mickey sculpture, a large kitchen and a dining room with a breakfast nook, an arcade room and a private screening room. Most of the house’s custom fixtures, like its oval-shaped front door, fiberglass screen and parametric windows were crafted by New York-based design firm Fox-Nahem, who also worked on the Downey family’s Hamptons house. Furnishings include outdoor furniture from Paola Lenti and Machine Histories, plus interior pieces from Roche Bobois, Daniel Becker Studio and Calligaris.
“We wanted to try something that hadn’t been done before,” said Susan Downey, Downey Jr.s wife, when discussing why the bungalow offers such a unique look. Nicolò Bini echoed her sentiments: “Call it biomimicry or call it borrowing from nature, but the beauty is that it works.”