The Genius of Mikael Genberg

Work & Business

The Genius of Mikael Genberg

Photo: Norsk design og arkitektursenter

Who would think to put a house on the moon?

Mikael Genberg, a Swedish artist and entrepreneur, has been dreaming of doing just that since 1999. His latest project, The Moonhouse, has far-reaching implications when considering the realms of possibility. And even though he didn’t meet his 2015 goal, Genberg continues to pursue his lofty project.

It’s the latest in a long line of incredible projects from the artist who hails from Västerås.

Genberg started his artistic career in painting and sculpting, displaying in galleries, art centers, art museums and art galleries.

We would expand his career definition to include builder, innovator, designer, professional speaker (here’s a Tedx talk from 2010), explorer and perhaps most importantly a dreamer who inspires the world to dream with him and in doing so seeks any alternatives necessary to make those dreams a reality. To accomplish all this he also must have skills to build not only art but networks, relationships and partnerships with others he inspires and challenges to create his and their artistic dreams.

Genberg has become famous for his stunning and sometimes controversial art projects. Simply put, he is a man who definitely thinks outside the box.  He passionately believes in making the impossible possible, and the only obstacle to any achievement are the boundaries he sets on himself, which is a good example for all of us to follow.

His repertoire includes an incredible array of “alternate dwellings” – he has a strong relationship with buildings and how to create them in alternate ways and place them in extreme surroundings.

Let’s explore the world of Mikael Genberg, and along the way, think about which one of his “art projects” you would like to really experience!

Photo: Udo Schröter

Hotel Woodpecker

This was the first of Genberg’s alternative living environments. How alternative? This traditional Swedish red cottage hotel room is 13 meters up a 130-year-old oak tree – the tallest oak tree in Vasa Public Park in central Vasteras. He designed it to appear like it is precariously perched in a treetop after being deposited there by a fairy-tale tornado. Guests marvel at the unprecedented views of the park and of Lake Malaren in addition to the vista view across the city of Vasteras. Room service is delivered via a pulley system, or if you are so inclined you can be winched up and down from your room.

Hotel Oops

Oops, he did it again! This Genberg-inspired adaptation of the beloved Swedish red house with white corners looks like it’s been flooded, because it literally is half submerged into Lake Mälaren (in Västerås archipelago)! It is a clever Genberg illusion as the foundations have been driven into the lake and are disguised to look like the main floor of the house. The seemingly “top floor” of the house is the single-floor accommodation that provides within a large room a luxury bedroom, kitchen and sauna – all solar powered. Outside you are surrounded by a wooden deck where you can sit and enjoy the tranquility of the surrounding lake and its wildlife. A boat transports guests to Hotel Oops, and they have access to a dingy if they choose to explore the lake and islands during their stay.

Photo: Plrk

The Utter Inn

Genberg’s next alternative living environment opened in June 2000, a single hotel room with twin beds and a table. Sounds pretty typical, right? The fun part is that this hotel room is 3½ meters below the surface of Lake Malaren, located a kilometer from Västerås. The most typical Swedish dream is to have a red house with white gables on your own island. When you stay at the Utter Inn, you can make that dream come true only if it’s for a night or two. Genberg says, “There is a remarkable feeling to go to bed while the fish are surrounding and watching you carefully. You are in an aquarium – for fish to be beholders of man.”

Café Koala

If you are looking for lunch with a view try Café Koala, a functioning restaurant that gets really high reviews – five-meters high that is. Located in Rio de Janeiro and Västerås, the eight sets of chairs in the air are set in a circle, and it certainly gives you a new way to fika and perk up the conversation around the water cooler when you return home!

Underwater Room – Pemba Island, Zanzibar

Manta Resort
Photo: House Boat

The Underwater Room at the Manta Resort was designed by Genberg’s company Underwater Hotels and finished in 2013. Genberg Art UW Limited, a Zanzibar registered company, was formed and owns the Underwater Room. The Underwater Room is basically a separate private architectural island that gives the guests three levels of unique views: above, below and at sea level to enjoy the surrounding landscape and marine life. The bedroom is four meters below the surface, so the perspective of multiple species of marine life swimming by and clinging to your panoramic windows will be unprecedented day or night when the outside lights attract octopuses and squids. The room is placed in The Blue Hole, which is an anomalistic circular hole in the coral reef and inhabited by large coral heads and an abundance of marine life.

The Traditional Swedish Houses Projects

Mikael’s hallmark is art inspired and signified by the Swedish Red House, which strongly characterizes functionality and realism. In these art projects, many of which have become renowned internationally, alternative styles of accommodation always have played a central role.

If you thought Genberg couldn’t reach any further limits with his design imaginings, think again.  His constant and transcending project is to place a small Swedish Red House with its trademark white trim on the moon.

Globen stuga
Photo: Holger.Ellgaard

The Moonhouse

To be the first art project on the moon, Genberg’s goal is to place a self-assembling red cottage with white gables (a symbol of Swedish life that Swedes hold close to their hearts) that would bring the dead moonscape to life. The Moonhouse first appeared in 2009 when he placed it high above Stockholm on top of the Globen arena. Since then it has fascinated and inspired people all over the world.  It was removed in 2010 but now lives wherever else Genberg places it, and on the web where people enter his Facebook Moonhouse site to share inspired spots they have chosen to place pictures of the little red house.

Only an exclusive few have experienced space and even fewer the moon.  Genberg wants his art project Moonhouse to bring the moon closer to more people by having them take part in making history with his project, which will be the first payload funded by private individuals, to land on the moon.

In 1999, Genberg heard that the Swedish Space Corporation was planning a project to construct a satellite and moonlander and launch into orbit around the moon. This was the spark of inspiration that launched his idea for the Moonhouse. It sounded outlandish even to him, so four years later he mustered the courage and called the Swedish National Space Board and told them his idea.

Through careful research they have confirmed the project is technically viable.

The red building trimmed with white fascia, windows and a front door will be designed by American aerospace company Astrobotic. Moonhouse is 75 percent engineered to spec and will be edged by a specially developed thin space-cloth that will be stretched over a carbon frame. Once placed on the moon it will self-assemble and self-correct automatically sealing itself from any leaks.

Will Sweden win the race to make an architectural mar in space? Mikael Genberg, the man who never stops envisioning, dreaming and creating won’t stop until his goal is reached. Sweden can be sure he will not give up until he has won the title of the man who took the Swedish Red Moonhouse to its celestial home.

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