Architecture is about conveying and portraying spatial narratives and stories about a certain experience or a certain feeling that people would like to associate with. The core job of an architect is to curate these verbal expressions put forward by the clients who approach them and later convert them into drawings – a language that is used by the designers to give these spatial narratives a physical form, a tangible entity that also portrays the intangibles. Architects would agree with the notion that designing a residence or any sort of housing project is the most challenging task to achieve.
The ancestors and early man were the first ones to achieve this in a utilitarian attempt whose goal was solely to provide shelter. But with times changing and the current fast pacing metropolitan 21st century, designing a residence has become more than a utilitarian phenomenon. Certain needs, requirements, and region-specific necessities have to be curated as well in residences. In addition to this, rapid globalisation, urbanisation and the influx of capital introduced the idea of luxury into the housing sector. The design and aesthetics of luxury housing are significantly influenced by various cultures and regions around the world. Different societies have unique values, historical backgrounds, climates, and traditions that shape how luxury homes are conceptualised.
Exploring Cultural Diversity in Luxury Housing Aesthetics
Luxury housing – be it a small-scale private residence or a large-scale multi-disciplinary housing project, it is influenced by certain aspects that would drive the design. For example, in Europe, the language of luxury homes is often defined by classical and ornate details reflecting historical influences from ancient civilisations, medieval times, or the Renaissance. In contrast, luxury homes in Asia might incorporate elements of traditional Indian, Chinese or Japanese architecture whose main focus is harmony with nature and spatial balance. Abundant natural resources such as wood, stone, clay, terracotta and traditional construction methods specific to certain regions can also be incorporated into designing a luxurious home to preserve cultural heritage and authenticity. Climate, cultural symbolism, sustainability and eco-friendly practices also play an important role in curating the design of a luxury home. These design principles tend to show similarities and at the same time portray differences concerning culture, region, religion, and gender, respectively.
The Azuma House by Tadao Ando: A Culturally Significant Exploration of Japanese Architecture
The Azuma residence, designed by the renowned architect Tadao Ando, is a price-winning project that reflects his evident tenets of stoicism and innovative design approach. Built in 1976 in Osaka, Japan, the house is situated on a narrow plot constrained by two party walls. To create a central patio Ando turned the entire home inward with a blank concrete facade on the exterior. Ando was inspired by the light patios connected to nature in the traditional vernacular Japanese row houses called Machiyas. Apart from making the most of the small sight and guaranteeing solitude, the modest concrete enclosures’ main goal was to shield the house from the violence and antagonism of the urbanised metropolis while maintaining the domestic space autonomously in the natural environment. The plain, unadorned concrete boxes’ only fenestration, a forbidding yet welcoming recessed entrance door, continues the custom of a Japanese threshold and vestibule. The three equal sections of the central open-to-sky patio, which penetrates the volume of the elongated structure to split it into them, are connected by the residents’ shifting movements and the ever-changing character of what defines luxury – the environment. The simple geometric shape of the house becomes more flexible in response to the dynamic harmony created by the involvement of nature and the activation of human existence. With a remarkable tranquillity that permeates the area, Ando’s idea of luxury and contemporary style self-consciously engages and melds with Japanese culture. In this project, the ruggedness of concrete, the scale of the house and the chiaroscuro of the light penetrating the building intersecting the cultural traditions of a Japanese house design, are what defines luxury.
Kanchanjunga Apartments: A Vertical Oasis – Charles Correa’s Celebration of Contemporary Luxury
Designed by renowned architect Charles Correa, Kanchanjunga Apartments is an iconic residential building in Mumbai. This vertical bungalow pays homage to traditional Indian architectural concepts, with stepped terrace gardens and the incorporation of Vaastu principles. The building’s layout allows for ample natural light and ventilation while emphasising communal living spaces and a connection with nature. The residential tower achieves an immaculate placement by putting itself in an east–west orientation to take advantage of the prevailing sea breezes and a stunning view of the city. Additionally, the structure enhances the idea of thermal comfort to give these luxury apartments’ occupants a suitable temperature. To reach the lofty height of a high-rise structure, the popular idea used in ancient bungalows was recreated to wrap itself around by a protective layer of verandahs. The deep terrace garden spaces that open up to the outdoors are oriented away from the sun to offer protection from the menacing heat from the south. The hierarchy of the spaces inside the building units was evident through the difference of respective volumes from the entrance opening up to the double-height balconies with a terrace garden through the interstitial space in between that included a mezzanine floor. The RCC construction, with an emphasis on the structural core for its support with its white painted plaster finish, gave it the rich look of skyscrapers which made it go into the books all over the world. The definition of luxury in this project is about the marriage between Vaastu principles and achieving it with contemporary methods and materials in a tight-packed urban context like Mumbai.
520 Avenue: A Masterpiece of Contemporary Architecture by Robert M. Stern
520 Park Avenue provides 34 apartments—29 floor-through simplexes, four duplexes, and one triplex—in a 54-story tower. The massing and detailing of the three-story base complement and respect its neighbours, the Grolier Club (Bertram Goodhue, 1917) and Christ Church (Cram & Ferguson, 1931), while the campanile-like tower, set fifteen feet back from the entrance, joins the other slender towers—such as the Sherry-Netherland and the Pierre—at the southeast corner of Central Park. Clad in limestone from sidewalk to skyline, 520 Park Avenue provides residences that are tailored to a 21st-century New York way of life, in a way that recalls the great moments of the city’s romantic heritage.
Luxury Housing: Where Traditions Meet Contemporary Design
“Post-Modernisms” and “Post-Functionalism” can both be seen as attempts to get out of the trap of orthodox Modernism, now devoid of philosophy, meaning and formal energy, and both are similar in their emphasis on the development of a strong formal basis for design. The idea of luxury has changed over time overall; modern customers seek to live in settings with good connections and a range of work-live-play options. Individualised and fully serviced properties with maintenance, concierge services, upscale facilities, cutting-edge security, and other essential amenities have become more common in the luxury living market. Irrespective of that, luxury housing design and aesthetics are deeply influenced by the cultures and regions in which they are located. These influences encompass architectural styles, materials, climate considerations, cultural symbolism, and modern global trends. As the world continues to evolve, the interplay between different cultural influences will continue to shape the luxury housing of the future.
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- Kanchanjunga Apartments (2022) Charles Correa Foundation. Available at: https://charlescorreafoundation.org/2022/03/13/kanchanjunga/ (Accessed: 24 July 2023).
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