Knowing Famous Architects’ Life through Their House Architecture

Domenig's ArchitectureUnlike a French figure, Roland Barthes, Gennaro Postiglione believes that a work has a close correlation with the author. Gennaro, an editor of the book entitled “The Architect ‘s Home” implicitly states that architecture is a representation of the designer .

This book seems to expose the personality, views, and ideas of world famous architects through their masterpiece, which is their house. Gennaro, a professor of design at the Milan Polytechnic, states that architects’ houses are masterpieces which can describe a variety of idealism, greatness, as technique of the owners. According to him, the architect’s house is a laboratory that can be used to develop the skills of the architect without having to think about client’s wishes.

Jonathan Glancey on the BBC discusses the book by Gennaro. In his writings, Glancey argues that architects’ houses are a very special place, because there is an opportunity to try out new ideas of style, plans, materials, methodology, and way of life. For historians, these buildings are biographies written in three -dimensional and solid material, in the absence of a place for pets or children.

Glancey highlights the work of Günther Domenig (1934-2012) in southern Austria and the House r128 in Stuttgart by a German architect, Werner Sobek (born in 1953). Domenig’s house is located in a very conservative town called Graz. He continued to build homes for themselves from 1986 until his death. It is an expression of the Austrian struggle against the Nazi ideology and culture. According to Glancey, Domenig works are present for the freedom of expression.

Meanwhile, the work of Sobek is a symbol of the victory from German technology in during the post war in which the life is of a democratic and open nuance yet very organized and seemed to be under the mandate. The house is free from door handles and even switch to turn off and turn on the lights. Sensors replace the role of switches and handles. R128 has the potential to be a cold house, away from human emotions. Does a rationally designed home can be cold and not symbolize the human emotion? The question, according to Glancey, has been asked ever since the Italian Renaissance.

However, apparently, architects in the 20th century are much different from the Renaissance architects. The definition of comfort in the 20th century had already changed. Let’s look at Le Corbusier apartment in Paris in the late 1930s. His bed is made much higher than the floor as if he and his wife had a big body posture. Interestingly, Glancey said that this inconvenience would likely to describe the characteristics of France.

In addition, there is also a home and studio of the Finnish architect, Alvar Aalto (1898-1976) at Munkkiniemi. The home and studio represents the moment when modernism reconcile with nature. The home and studio is a museum. Perhaps, all architects’ houses are museum. Glancey calls it a personal pantheon.

Architect shall request the approval of the proposed design to the owner before it is built. Yet, when dealing with their own house, an architect does not need an approval to anyone, except his wife and kids. This freedom encourages architects to optimize all the idealism in their designs.

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