Best Of 2019

Best Art House Airbnb: Swing House

Swing House

“Art house” traditionally has been a term used in the movie business to connote the type of theaters that favor indie and foreign films over Hollywood fare. But Mark de Jong, a trained artist as well as a renovator/reimaginer of old houses, has a different — and far more literal — meaning for the term. It is a house whose restoration/alteration is done to turn it into, first and foremost, an overall work of art. How people live in it — even whether people live in it — is of secondary concern. De Jong spent three years working on Swing House, a freestanding 1880s three-story residential brick building in Camp Washington, whose location and exterior appearance wouldn’t lead passersby to expect that a major new work of Contemporary art awaits inside. It is called Swing House because de Jong has removed the interior walls and upper floors and built a swing, attached by 30 feet of natural-fiber rope to a newly installed metal beam on the ceiling. The swing is functional in and of itself, yes. But swings are hardly a common inclusion for homes, so this one has far more than a practical use. It represents freedom from architectural convention — it’s a radical departure from our expectations of everyday domesticity. In addition to the swing, the entire space functions as an art house, with layers of past plaster and paint colors communicating with wood furniture that seems to levitate off the ground. The home and its ephemera were the subject of a Contemporary Arts Center exhibit from April to September of 2018 which displayed art objects and material derived or inspired by Swing House, plus new work by de Jong. The exhibit also included special tours of the space. Today, the Swing House is open to the public the first Saturday of the month for tours and is also available to rent on Airbnb. The one-bedroom, one-bathroom home allows guests to stay in and utilize a work of modern architectural art. Swing House, 1373 Avon Place, Camp Washington, swing-house.com.