The word ‘luxury’ can have many meanings, depending on how far you want to look back. One of its Latin roots meant ‘rankness’ and another, ‘lechery’. In Old French it is related to debauchery and lust. Today, the word is more often associated with luxury places – resorts and spas – and while the dimension of indulgence is still there, this is more about treating yourself rather than the lascivious behaviour of the old French nobility.
In architecture, though, the concept is often too narrowly defined: luxurious homes are generally associated with size and expense, those out-of-reach places for the very wealthy. So we decided to seek a broader perspective and create a more inclusive context.
This issue of The Design Guide explores different expressions of luxury – experiences that rely less on scale or opulence, and more on richness of ideas, use of materials and craft. Houses that are more cognisant of the environment, and reveal the architect’s knowledge of the local landscape, climate and culture. Places embodying a new type of luxury that avoids clichés and old tropes in favour of ideas, philosophy, beauty, proportion and detail.
We feature examples from around the Pacific Rim – from the Waikato to Australia, Vietnam, Japan and California – that express architecture related to place. The Invisible House by Peter Stutchbury Architecture shows the luxury of time; the Eaves House by Suppose Design, the luxury of materials; Maungakawa by Pattersons, the luxury of art and family; the Fall House by Fourgeron Architecture, the luxury of nature; and the urban house by Shunri Nishizawa, the luxury of experimentation.
For architects and builders, luxury can mean a less stringent budget and the freedom to explore possibilities. So we also present special places and spaces that called for a bit of a splurge in products, kitchens and bathrooms; projects that let out the rope a bit. And from the obscene to the humorous, Aaron Paterson and Sarosh Mulla take us through an engaging discussion about new forms of luxury and the recent ‘return to the honesty and reliability of simple materials treated with respect’.
Andrea Stevens, editor
Writers: Aaron Paterson, Andrea Stevens, Anne Fougeron, Peter Stutchbury, Sarosh Mulla, Shunri Nishizawa, Suppose Design Office
Photographers: Hiroyuki Oki, Joe Fletcher, Michael Nicholson, Patrick Reynolds, Peter Hyatt, Sean Fennessy, Simon Devitt, Simon Wilson, Toshiyuki Yano, Tom Ferguson, Trevor Mein
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