Architecture is the product of a conversation between client and creator. The architect assesses the needs and desires of a client and translates them into a form of inhabitation. So what happens when the client is the architect themselves? The Architects’ house goes above and beyond the primal need for shelter and becomes a canvas for stylized expression. Let’s take a look at the personal homes of some famous architects -some standalone structures, some studio/live-in spaces, some apartments reserved in unique housing schemes devised by them. Regardless of the kind of home though, these are structures that transition from living manifestos to time capsules of their architectural ideas and thus almost always attract hordes of attention from students and enthusiasts alike.
1. Frank Gehry | Architects Homes
The Gehry Residence stands out amidst its contemporaries even today, just as it did when it was first completed. The couple acquired an existing house in Santa Monica California, in the 1970s and Gehry set to work demonstrating his bold de-constructivist ideals almost immediately. He chose to retain the original home but decided to deconstruct ‘the ghost of cubism’ that he considered haunted the structure. This led to a metal envelope encasing the structure punctured by massive wooden-glass windows made to ‘look like they were crawling out of this thing’. The structure may take some getting used to when looked at from the outside, but there is no questioning the quality light and the uniqueness of the experience created within. His style is so distinctly encapsulated in his home that it even found its way as an Easter egg in the popular television series, Simpsons.
2. Peter Zumthor | Architects House
“There are two extremes in architecture; you can deliver a brand or typology, or you can react to where you are. I think people look at my buildings and see they are always different.”
Swiss Architect and Pritzker Laureate, Peter Zumthor rejects the notion of style and focuses on responding to the specifics of every context that he creates within. His second home in the Alps was thus a variant of the traditional chalet built to act as a rest spot for him and his wife on the weekend trekking trips that are a norm of the Swiss lifestyle. His aesthetic is known to identify with nature and create opportunities for interaction with it. This home is no different from the stunning floor-to-ceiling mountain vistas that it frames. The structure, crafted in wood and metal with immaculate detailing and custom-made furniture, also seems to reflect the sensibilities he earned during his early years, training as a cabinet maker.
3. Luis Barragan | Houses by Architects
Casa Barragan was the home that Luis Barragan crafted for himself to live and practice out of from 1948 right up to his death in 1988. The home is located within a working-class neighborhood of Mexico City, its façade aligning unassumingly with that of the neighboring units along the street. The home is introverted and does not reveal most of what it holds within until one crosses the main threshold. Barragan is known for the bold use of form and color that he brought into the landscapes of architecture. The internal landscapes are a befitting testament to the same. He explored the sculptural nature of free-standing wall elements and their interaction with water, plants, and sunlight. As a result, he created stunning spatial visuals that artists and architects from across the world flock to experience until today.
4. Moshe Safdie | Architects Homes
Israeli-Canadian architect Moshe Safdie worked on a lot of large-scale projects in his lifetime, one of which was the brutalist unprecedented housing complex – Habitat 67 in Montreal. The architect described the complex as “two ideas in one. One is about prefabrication, and the other is about rethinking apartment-building design in the new paradigm”. As part of the early movement in architecture that was redefining the way people would live, naturally, he reserved one of the 158 apartments for himself. The duplex concrete home is punctured by square and rectangular cut-outs that maximize the Riverview. The three large wooden decks were an important aspect of the design, functioning as the primary means of improving the quality of life for residents of high-rises.
5. Frank Lloyd Wright | Architects House
He began his practice from the construction of his home Oak Park View City Golf Club Estate, a semi-rural village on the western edge of Chicago. This home is where the style he helped found and popularize – the American Prairie Style – took shape.
The exposed brick and shingle structure doubled up as his studio and as an ongoing architectural skills lab. With complete control over this structure, he modified and expanded it several times during the twenty-year period that he resided there with his family. He also experimented with the interiors, responding to the popular movements of the time like the art movement for the American middle class.
6. Robert Venturi | Houses Designed by Architects
The Vanna Venturi home was designed by Robert Venturi for his mother. It is one of the first structures credited to the post-modernist style of architecture and it stood out quite uniquely amidst its peers of the time. The structure has a pronounced pediment – reminiscent of the traditional pitch roof home, but the prominent slit down the center and the decidedly clean geometric forms of the windows quickly break that notion. The inside of the home holds surprises like the unexpected angled staircase or the segmental window of the upstairs attic bedroom, meanwhile, the chimney cuts through the center of the home and rises up prominently over the ridge of the roof. The home was one of the early productions of Venturi’s career and as his career picked up, transfixed architecture students and enthusiasts became a common sight around the structure, as they are to date.
7. Oscar Niemeyer | Houses by Architects
Brazilian architect Niemeyer, an artist of concrete, sculpted several civic buildings in the 1960s and is considered one of the key figures of the modernist movement.
“I am not attracted to straight angles or to the straight line, hard and inflexible, created by man. I am attracted to free-flowing, sensual curves.”
His home is a reflection of this statement and his proficiency with concrete. The structure adopted the transparency of Mies Van Der Rohe’s Farnsworth house and used the newfound flexibility of concrete to create an organic form of interaction between the built and the unbuilt.
8. Balkrishna Doshi | Architects Homes
BV Doshi is the first Indian architect to win the Pritzker Prize. He practices a climate-responsive and contextual form of architecture and several of his ideas can be seen articulated in the Kamala House in Ahmadabad where he resides as of today. The structure built in 1963, consists of exposed brick walls and RCC slabs and showcases details similar to those seen at CEPT an institute being built by him around the same time. Low hanging vertical concrete screens and deep-set windows reduce the penetration of sunlight into the structure and help keep the interior temperatures cooler in the hot climate of Ahmadabad.
Windows and slit openings are also placed strategically to allow for cross ventilation and to maximize indirect daylighting.
9. Bijoy Jain | Architects House
Founder of studio Mumbai, Bijoy Jain’s home is located in a unique housing complex located at Saat Rasta, Byculla. When a set of old warehouses went into redevelopment, his firm proposed and executed a ground-hugging design for community living, breaking away from the conventional high-rise trend. One of these units was adopted by him as his home and studio. As an architect, he is an unconventional explorer of materiality through the lens of human experience and so he says his style evolves with him over time. By his own admission, his earlier projects were driven by experimentation with color, and this aspect of his journey as an architect is imprinted in the appearance of this Byculla home. The home centers around an internal gravel courtyard bounded on all sides by folding shutter doors with marble paneling. The house is strewn with customized furniture made in wood and marble and the walls are painted in muted pastel colors.
10. Chitra Vishwanath
An ardent conservationist, Chitra Vishwanath’s home is a live experiment in sustainability. Built over 20 years ago in mud and brick, the home stands a world apart from most modern-day structures with its bamboo detailing, bells, and terracotta flooring. Composting and rainwater harvesting systems are a part of the built-in system of living in this home. There is a glaring absence of fans, which can be seen but not felt, due to the well-positioned windows that create good cross ventilation and daylighting systems. It’s a home that practices what its owner preaches.
11. Didi Contractor | Houses Designed by Architects
Delia Narayan Contractor, fondly known as ‘Didi’ is a German American self-taught architect who has been practicing and experimenting with contemporary vernacular architecture in India for the past 20 years. She has constructed over 15 homes and 3 institutes in the last couple of years, the first of which was her home in Sidhburi, Himachal Pradesh. It was in making her home that she developed her understanding of mud brick, mud plaster, cob, bamboo, and slate. The thick mud-brick walls are reinforced with metal to improve their earthquake resistance and earth berm landscaping techniques help thermodynamically and keep the heat inside.
12. Anupama Kundoo | Houses by Architects
Anupama is an architect based in Auroville, a settlement established to act as an experimental template for the sustainable city of the future. Her practice focuses on material exploration, so naturally, her home acts as a crucible for such exploration. The Wall House is a self-driven home project built on the outskirts of Auroville in an area designated for architectural experimentation. The structure showcases an inventive approach toward the usage of local materials. With the use of elements like terracotta pot filler slab and delicate pivoted concrete screens, she turned the home into a live prototyping lab for both low and high-tech materials. The home also attempts to redefine the programmatic constraints of a home, is designed to be expandable to accommodate guests and visitors.
13. Tadao Ando | Architects Homes
“I wanted a fun place to live, a place where every day is thrilling, a quiet place to think,”
Tadao Ando built the ‘Atelier’ or ‘Studio Annexe’ in 1995 as a home for himself; however, he does not live there. Instead, it has transitioned into a space for thinking and creation, a place where his ideas are born. Built on a 150 sqm plot, the concrete and metal structure is three-storied with well-lit symmetrical rooms. Lacking a bedroom and kitchen, it may not be the home for Ando-the man, but it is definitely the home for Ando-the architect, filled with books, models, and cherished memorabilia from other architects.
14. Toyo Ito
Toyo Ito designed “The White ‘U’ house” for his sister after her husband passed away, and so while it isn’t strictly speaking ‘his own’ it is of great importance since it is often regarded to be one of the strongest influences on his later works. The structure minimizes all interaction with the outside and turns the home in on itself, and develops a clean ascetic aesthetic. The intention was to create a safe space where the widow and her daughter could connect with the earth in privacy until they were ready to move out. Because of the tight geometry, the structure could segregate spaces for different functions without any internal walls. The home no longer exists as it was torn down in 1997.
15. Shigeru Ban | Architects House
As an architect, he is renowned for his unique experimentations with paper as an architectural material for construction. His explorations are driven by fundamental respect and concern for nature, so it’s no surprise that the primary concept for his Hanegi forest residence was to preserve the existing trees. The structural system was walked out in the spaces between the trees and resulted in a structure perforated by the forest to create unique landscapes within and outside the individual apartments.