When you work at Ashton Woods, the world is literally your oyster. We all travel to the many cities in which we build homes. In every instance, we find inspiration. We are encouraged to belong to an organization that broadens our knowledge and insight, and we attend conferences and events that continue to challenge and expand our thinking. It was in this last pursuit I was asked to travel to Milan, Italy to attend the world-famous Salone del Moblie (like you would have to be asked twice!). The Salone, an annual design event, takes over this great city, and EVERYONE, including the cab drivers, were incredible stewards of the experience.
It was there I saw one of the most thought-provoking presentations I have ever seen, installations of eight famous architects in an exhibition called “Where Architects Live”. Profiled in the show were the homes of Zaha Hadid (London), Marcio Kogan (Brazil), Shigeru Ban (Tokyo) Daniel Libeskind (New York) , Massimiliano and Doriana Fuksas (Paris), Mario Bellini (Milan), and Bijoy Jain of Studio Mumbai (Mumbai).
Having these eight architects placed side-by-side was fascinating and jarring at the same time. The starkness of one compared to the warmth of another, both in design and personality, stood out like a fingerprint. Looking inward, these architects each stretched the limits of residential design in material use and by rebuking conventional design.
Step Inside the Mind of an ArchitectOn the subject of an architect designing their own home, Zaha Hadid says you either do it at the beginning of your career with the exuberance and creativity that allows you to put ideas into practice before others realize the value you bring to the table or when you retire. And, she added, ”I am not ready to retire.” Her home is bathed in white with the bold colors added from her own art and from the artwork she’s collected.
Zaha Hadid's House, David Pizzigoni
Like his other peers, the Milan architect Mario Bellini loves books. His home revolves around a 9 meter-tall library, to which is fastened a scaffold-like system containing a staircase. According to Molteni, "the books, artworks and objects make it reminiscent of Antonello da Messina's painting of St. Jerome's study." The library aside, colorful abstract murals enliven the space and clash wonderfully with the home's period details. The eclecticism of the space looks familiar – like a public building that was converted.
Mario Bellini’s House, Davide Pizzigoni
“It doesn’t matter if it is a house or not. You make places where you want to be,” says David Chipperfield. I cannot agree more. Architecture is placemaking. The built environment creates street edges and the vista terminations. The building type should be obvious in nature by their design—civic, public, private, commercial or service. It should welcome you appropriately. I often speak of favorite places, and that can be a room, restaurant, street, park– anything and everything. To me, a favorite place is a space or setting that invigorates people, whether a large crowd or an individual. Oddly, though, David’s Berlin apartment seems to draw inspiration from some of the Berlin’s cold concrete designs.
David Chipperfield’s House, Davide Pizzigoni
Architect Shigeru Ban says, “When I am alone on a plane with no phone calls, that is when I feel at home.” Here, I disagree. As I travel to all of the great places where we build homes, I get excited to see the latest and greatest project unfold. But the flight is not my respite. The home that Shigeru built defers to the trees of the Hanegi Forest. If I were him, I would turn my phone off and enjoy my time in his “tree” house…
Shigeru Ban’s House, Hiroyuki Hirai
Each of these incredible houses evoke the heart and soul of their inhabitant and designer. But shouldn’t every home, regardless of who lives there? At AW, we strive to design homes with different personalities and lifestyles in mind that are appropriate for the community we’re building in. We include floor plan options that allow for countless variations of the same base plan to be built in many different configurations to fit each homeowner’s needs. Home exteriors are carefully designed and crafted to reflect a style of the buyer and the tapestry of the neighborhood. Whether in Atlanta, San Antonio or Milan, architect by trade or by heart, it all boils down to the same beautiful thing—home as a favorite place to be loved and cherished. A respite from the bustling world at large or a place that bustles within.