Note: A long time ago I worked in an architecture office where it was often left up to me to write descriptions of buildings. This activity generally involved me using increasingly ridiculous prose and flowery language in order to really sell the design, and so this little piece is essentially an ode to a style of writing that I began to consider an art form in itself.
There are some buildings that defy description, and have to be seen to be truly believed; thankfully this building isn’t one of them and so the following words should save you a long car trip through some admittedly quite beautiful countryside.
The house is initially hidden from view as one approaches the site which, given enough distance, every building is. However the oppressive weight of the architectural aura that the building so effortlessly excretes can be felt long before it heaves gracefully into view, like the prow of a ship silently cutting through an early morning fog, perhaps wondering if it’s dangerous to be sailing in such thick fog, or even how an inanimate object such as itself became self aware and involved in such an overwrought metaphor in the first place.
Once in full view, the disjointed forms of the building unfold across the landscape like discarded pieces of flat-pack furniture thrown from a box by an exasperated couple wondering how all this stuff is supposed to go together and whether the entire ordeal is actually a metaphor for their relationship. Conversely, the naturally sloping landscape of the site offers an affectionate and all embracing hug of naturesque vibes around the vulnerably stoic forms of this architectural masterpiece sitting uncomfortably within its over protective arms.
The entry to the building is hidden in order to confuse attempts of penetration. The search for a door creates a forced interaction with the building, bluntly reminding anyone coming to write a review that this building was almost certainly designed by someone. This elusive reception is further confounded as the size of building also prevents anyone from getting a decent phone signal, effectively cutting off any potential help from the client within.
The front door, once located, is deliberately large and heavy in order to distinguish it from the other doors, or to at least justify its position on the door schedule as ‘Door 1’. Once through this egotistical portal, a guest to the building encounters an angled hallway that pulls and reaches at the light; generally doing all the things that light physically can’t do as it meanders like a lost river down the disjointed hallway. Overbearing site setback by-laws help to pull parts of the ceiling in on the guest, creating a compressing, claustrophobic moment before the hallway finally relents alluding to some self awareness it doesn’t actually possess. This deposits the guest unceremoniously into the living room, where the client proudly offers a gin and tonic along with their usual line about the hard-to-locate door “It’s designed like that you see”
The living area, populated by recognisable designer furniture rented for the sole purpose of the photographers shots, becomes the beating heart of the house, provided the house was a living creature, which it most certainly isn’t.
As well as having no real heart, it also has no vocal chords yet the house still somehow sings with authority. Meanwhile, the clean lines of the building are achieved by the regular use of a high pressure water gun and an expensive monthly cleaning service.
The very young, up-and-coming architect mentions that it’s undoubtedly the best project they’ve done since they established their practice 25 years ago. According to them, the design process that led to the final design “was very intense, and utilized a process that had never been attempted before which resulted in a mildly interesting outcome which most importantly gave us something interesting to put into the media pack we send to various design blogs”. Later adding as an afterthought, that “the house also contains several environmentally sustainable design features, most of which weren’t actually that effective, but the main reasons for these is to attract clients who are still impressed by terms like ‘sustainability’ and ‘food miles’. In fact, I should mention that this house has very low food miles, there’s literally a supermarket just around the corner”
It’s certainly an incredible building and not even the best architectural code breakers could decipher the enigma that is this building’s exact architectural style, let alone a reviewer with three gin and tonics under their belt. Suffice to say, it’s as if the Bauhaus School had a child with Deconstructivism and then they were both murdered in an alleyway by Post Modernism in front of that child as they walked home from a night at the theatre, and then if that orphaned child then had to be brought up by his wise elderly butler, then this house would represent the superhero that that orphan would ultimately become.
Batman. This house is basically Batman is what I’m saying.