Last month, Kanye West divulged plans to build Star Wars-inspired prefabs for the homeless—but not everyone has been happy with the multihyphenate’s Yeezy Home venture.
According to TMZ, West’s Calabasas neighbors have complained to the L.A. County Department of Public Works about construction noise coming from the hip-hop artist’s 300-acre property, where he recently built four dome-shaped structures. After dispatching a few inspectors to the construction site, the Department is demanding that West acquire building permits by September 15, or face demolition.
Building permits are not required for structures that are temporary. A source close to West told TMZ that the buildings are prototypes, and that they were constructed to be temporary. The inspectors, however, have determined that they look a touch too permanent to be prototypes.
The buildings are part of West’s ambitious vision for egalitarian prefabricated housing aimed at eliminating class barriers that could potentially be used as low-income housing. According to a Forbes feature, the dome-like designs take inspiration from Luke Skywalker’s childhood home on the Star Wars planet of Tatooine, which was based on Tunisian Berber desert dwellings.
The recently released images and footage of the structures appear to match the Forbes description. Though presently elevated on concrete foundations, the structures could be sunk into the ground to take advantage of natural insulation, as the Tunisian desert homes do.
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In an interview last April with Charlemagne tha God, West said: "I’m going to be one of the biggest real-estate developers of all time, what Howard Hughes was to aircrafts and what Henry Ford was to cars, just the relationships I have with architects, my understanding of space and sacred proportions, just this new vibe, this new energy. We gonna develop cities." In that same interview, Kanye also said that he planned to build his first community—a cluster of five properties—on his 300-acre property in Calabasas, an area west of Los Angeles that’s home to many high-profile celebrities.
West’s foray into real estate isn’t surprising given the artist’s passion for design and architecture. When he dropped in at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design in 2013, West famously told students "that the world can be saved through design, and everything needs to actually be architected." He launched the Yeezy architecture arm "to make the world better" last summer.
Although the Department’s insistence on building permits poses a setback and further construction may invoke the wrath of his neighbors, West is no stranger to controversy.
As a self-proclaimed "product guy" with an impressive portfolio of work, West has the track record and assets to realize his prefabricated housing vision. Whether or not those Star Wars–inspired homes will actually be used to house the homeless is uncertain.