This Bold House: 5 Architects Who Defy Convention

If you’re looking to renovate, forget the do-it-yourself approach. Instead, why not just contract out the job to one of the best? Here’s a helpful guide for determining which architectural great deserves to design your dream home.

1. Frank Lloyd Wright (1867 – 1959)


Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater (Image Credit: Wikipedia)


Ennis House (Image Credit: Mike Dillon [Wikipedia])


Taliesin West Complex in Scottsdale, Arizona (Image Credit: lumierefl [Flickr])

A key figure in American architecture, Frank Lloyd Wright [wiki] will build you a beautiful, harmonious house. It might have only a few rooms, but everything will be carefully integrated. The colors will be warm, and the materials natural and truthful. Daylight, of course, will be important, and it’s a safe bet that the building will sit comfortably and easily in its natural setting. In fact, the house just might provoke gasps of admiration … but will you enjoy living in it? A stickler for his own views, Frank Lloyd Wright was obsessed with controlling everything, from the furniture to the ornaments to even the appliances – so much so that you may find you have a house in which Frank Lloyd Wright’s personality is so dominant that you feel like a guest in your own home.

2. Andrea Palladio (1508 – 1580)


Palladio's Villa Almerico-Capra "La Rotonda"in Vicenza, Italy
(Image Credit: Philip Schäfer [Wikipedia])


Palladio's Palazzo Chiericati in Vicenza, Italy (Image Credit: netNicholls [Flickr])

With Palladio [wiki], you’ve chosen not just the finest Renaissance domestic architect but one of the most skillful and intelligent architects of all time.

The proportions will be so perfect and human that you will feel physically bigger and morally better the moment you step inside the front door. The classical details will be handled with the greatest understanding, but you will have a genuinely innovative house, not a pastiche of ancient architecture.

Best of all, Palladio will have taken into account the full potential of your site, overcome any difficulties it presents, and created a design that fits your budget (well, he will be less tempted than most architects to spend your money as if it were in unlimited supply)

3. Le Corbusier (Charles-Edouard Jeanneret) (1887 – 1965)


Le Corbusier's Villa Savoye in Poissy-sur-Seine, France
(Image Credit: patrick3.14 [Flickr])


Heidi Weber Pavilion in Zurich, Switzerland (Image Credit: Fatlum [Flickr])


La Cité Radieuse (The Radiant City) (Image Credit: pietroizzo [Flickr])

Le Corbusier [wiki], one of the key pioneer architects of the modern movement, coined the phrase “a machine for living in,” and that’s exactly what his house will be. Simple in design, it will have minimal ornamentation, open plan spaces, white walls, and windows that run the full length of those walls like ribbons.

But to appreciate your house to the fullest you’ll need to have an understanding of his architectural and social theories, and be thrilled by the way they’ve been applied. You’ll also need to dispense with clutter and have very few visible possessions; otherwise you’ll be accused of desecrating the purity of his architectural principles.

4. Robert Adam (1728 – 1792)


Robert Adam's Osterley Park, London (Image Credit: sannse [Wikipedia])


Interior of the Osterley Park House (Image Credit: Archistoria.it)


Adam's Harewood House (Image Credit: Gunnar Larsson [wikipedia])


Adam's Kenwood House in Hampstead, London (Image Credit: Wikipedia)

Robert Adam [wiki] was a canny Scotsman who became the architect of choice for the British nobility and gentry at the height of their powers. If your taste is for living in the grand manner with impressively proportioned rooms in the classical style (for receiving and impressing your guests, of course), then this guy’s the architect for you. Especially good at converting existing houses, Adam pays breathtaking attention to detail and he would expect to design the furniture to go with your impressive rooms. He will also dictate the colors and the moldings, which are part of the overall scheme. Above all you’ll require a taste for huge houses, an army of servants, deep pockets to keep the establishment going, and an overwhelming desire to entertain your guests in the style your house will lead them to expect.

5. Antonio Gaudí (1852-1926)


Gaudí's Casa Milà in Barcelona, Spain (Image Credit: s3k [Flickr])


Side view of Gaudí's Casa Milà (Image Credit: UncleBucko [Flickr])


The chimneys on the roof of Casa Milà (Image Credit: Christopher Chan [Flickr])


The fantastic balconies of Gaudí's Casa Battló in Barcelona, Spain. (Image Credit: raindog [Flickr])


The main balcony of Gaudí's Casa Battló (Image Credit: Pietroizzo [Flickr])

If your taste runs to the unusual and exotic, then Gaudí [wiki], the quirky Spanish interpreter of the art nouveau style, is probably the architect for you.

You will see hardly a straight line on the outside, and your friends may think seeing too many old Disney movies has influenced your taste.

Your house will look as though it’s been molded rather than constructed, and don’t be alarmed if you see the workers actually building it from rubble (one of Gaudí’s favorite materials). The rubble will soon be covered in patterns made from brightly colored ceramic and glass.

But be forewarned: you had better enjoy living on a building site, for its’ highly probably that your house will never get finished.

From mental_floss' book Condensed Knowledge: A deliciously Irreverent Guide to Feeling Smart Again, published in Neatorama with permission. The article is originally written by Robert Cumming, an art critic and writer.

Be sure to visit mental_floss' extremely entertaining website and blog!


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I write and make videos about robert adams designs and furniture. I used his ideas in my historical fiction novels the munroe series on word press. I also have the novels uploaded on authonomy.com for reading.

the munroe mansion
the ss america
linda randall

Mrs Munroe loves robert adam's designs and uses them for the munroe mansion in place royale, quebec canada in my novels..
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I was impressed with Gaudi's and Lloyd Wright's work, the buildings were a bit unusual, but unusual is a good thing in order to be recognized for your art. He was thinking outside the box which there needs to be more of in this society.
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Frank Lloyd Wright is and will remain the FATHER of ARCHITECTURE!!
get your facts right first buddy...its FALLINgWATER not fallingDOWNwater!!
as for Gaudi...no one has been able to create such masterpieces since him.. Hellish thinking!...awesome architect..which i doubt any one of us could EVER match standards with...so better shut it folks!
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I heard that Wright hated the idea of having to use rebars in his concrete... why, I have no idea ...

And thanks for the link, Eugenio Martínez Sierra!
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Good points... House has to function the way the owner wants it, not us, the architects... Sometimes we forget it and think that we are designing for ourselves.

I recommend this article "Does design = control?"
http://www.arkitectrue.com/?p=165
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