Robert Downey Jr.'s 'inflatable' home is unlike anything we've ever seen – but this affordable alternative to traditional housing might be the future

The actor's Binishells home in Malibu embodies modern design both in its looks and its ethos – and the look is increasingly popular

(Image credit: Getty Images / JULIEN DE ROSA / Contributor)

One glance at Robert Downey Jr.'s Malibu home reveals that this house is unlike the others. The white, curvaceous structure is formed of multiple undulating arches opening onto his beautiful backyard and pool. Downey Jr.'s home is the epitome of contemporary design.

As fascinating as the look of the modern home is, the technology behind it is even more interesting. The actor's house was designed by Binishells, an innovative construction company, to create more beautiful, effective, and greener homes. Robert Downey Jr.'s Malibu home was the prototype for the relaunch of the Binishells system, which uses tensile pressure to give shape to a 'building envelope,' hence the monolithic design of the actor's property. To add context, the original Binishells, invented in the 1960s by Dante Bini, were circular concrete shell structures lifted and shaped by air pressure. Though the technology has evolved, the idea has been future-facing from the beginning.

This technology goes far beyond the aesthetic of making a home look modern. On the Binishells site, the retailer states that their building 'envelopes' 'may cost approximately ½ of a traditional structure of the same size, may generally be built 3x faster, and may have between ½ and 1/3 the life cycle footprint.' The brand is setting out to revolutionize how people think of homes in terms of not only the way they are built and look but also how much they cost and their environmental efficiency.

Celebrities have previously set out to have the world's best homes, but Downey Jr.'s structure signifies a shift away from a purely aesthetic mode of architectural acclaim towards an ideological one. 'For this celebrity home, the actor's principles are just as important as his design sensibilities,' says Megan Slack, head of celebrity style at Homes & Gardens. 'As interest in famous people's homes grows, I can definitely see an increase in celebrities choosing to build and design homes largely based on their values.

Though Downey Jr. is among the first to embrace the innovative home style, it's easy to imagine how current economic and social conditions could quickly turn the Binishells home into a real estate trend. With home prices up 47% since early 2020 despite stagnating wages, an out-of-the-box house that costs half as much could become much more alluring to Americans, especially first-time home buyers. Increased anxiety about the climate crisis might also draw interest in sustainable technologies like Binishells, which seem like a more environmentally efficient alternative to traditional housing.

Shop The Robert Downey Junior Edit

Though you can't shop a Binishells home online (yet), you can recreate the look with furniture similar to that found in Robert Downey Jr.'s living room. A sand-colored sofa, modern coffee table, and flourishing baby bonsai tree bring an inviting and contemporary energy into any space.

The visually fascinating exterior of Robert Downey Jr.'s Malibu home is an insight into new technologies and the shifting market that supports them. Whether Binishells catch on or not, they offer a glimpse of what a future of real estate that takes people and the planet into account might look like.

Sophie Edwards
News Editor

Sophie is a London-based News Editor at Homes & Gardens, where she works on the Celebrity Style team. She is fascinated by the intersection of design and popular culture and is particularly excited when researching trends or interior history. Sophie is an avid pop culture fan. As an H&G editor, she has interviewed the likes of Martha Stewart, Hilary Duff, and the casts of Queer Eye and Selling Sunset. Before joining Future Publishing, Sophie worked as the Head of Content and Communications at Fig Linens and Home, a boutique luxury linens and furniture brand. She has also written features on exciting developments in the design world for Westport Magazine. Sophie has an MSc from the Oxford University Department of Anthropology and a BA in Creative Writing and Sociology from Sarah Lawrence College.