Home work

Happy is the architect who can build his own house. But are the results very different from when there is a client to please? Jane Withers opens a few doors
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The Independent Culture
View with a room

The house built in Ticino on the Swiss Italian border in 1992 by the Swiss architect Livio Vacchini, isn't so much a room with a view as a view with a room. A rectangular box jutting out of the hillside, it has glass walls sandwiched between two planes of concrete frame which provide spectacular views across the valley to the mountains beyond.

The vastness of the view outside is almost matched by the scale of the space within. The main living area is a rectangle about 60ft by 28ft, partially divided by a free-standing concrete wall which houses the kitchen on one side and conceals an enclosed bathroom behind. But whereas the natural world is ragged, unpredictable (even in Switzerland) and murky green, the world within is as rigorously controlled, smoothly, restrained and artificially coloured as any control freak could wish for - down to the single armchair.

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