PROPERTY IDEAL HOMES

FRANCIS DUFFY Outgoing president of the Royal Institute of British Architects Lives with his wife and three daughters in a terraced house in Islington, north London
Click to follow
The Independent Culture
LOCATION: On downs, near the sea.

ESSENTIAL LOCAL AMENITIES: Absence of other houses.

CHARACTER: My ideal home would be the exact opposite of the house I live in now, which is 150 years old and set in the immensity of London. It is characterised by being extremely vertical: there's a basement, an attic and three floors in between; I have one daughter per floor. My ideal home would be horizontal and new. As my wife said: "Wouldn't it be nice to live in a house where the skirting boards touched the floor?"

CONSTRUCTION: Light, and crafted of steel and glass. I would call on the expertise of sophisticated, really wonderful architects like Ian Ritchie, David Chipperfield or Future Systems to build me a beautifully proportioned house in the most modern way. Ninety per cent of it would be on the first floor; the remaining 10 would be underneath and include a utility room and wine cellar. The house wouldn't be the same height all the way through - the height would shift to a floor and a half, so there would be spacial experience of immense beauty. A stone fireplace would be the heart of the place, and there would be a huge window down one side. I'd ask the architect Eva Jiricana to do the stairs; she is particularly good at them.

BEDROOMS: As I am trying to get rid of my children, a rather small number. Five would accommodate up to four friends, my wife and me; the children would have to live elsewhere.

BATHROOMS: Five - we are employing north American levels of sanitation here.

RECEPTION ROOMS: The house is all reception, because it's all about show.

KITCHEN: It would be done in the amazingly self-confident and technically efficient way of the Americans. There would be huge refrigerators and freezers, lights flashing, beautiful plastic surfaces that are easy to clean and don't have any joints. The whole thing would be glittering and perfect.

DECORATIVE STYLE: The walls would be white and grey, the floor made of Scandinavian timber. The colour would come from a collection of modern art that would include Matisse and some of Ben Johnson's architectural interiors. I'd also hang some drawings by my daughter, who is at the Royal College of Art. I would furnish with chairs from Rolf Fehlbaum's chair museum in Switzerland. He has collected wonderful pieces by people like Le Corbusier and Eileen Gray.

LUXURIES: The whole thing is volumetric luxury.

SPECIAL OUTBUILDINGS: Yes, where the children live!

VIEW: Through the huge windows I'd be able to see nature in all its beauty, changing month after month.

SIZE OF GARDEN: 10 acres. I'd like to experiment with the new style of German landscaping, where you let nature rip and allow wild things to grow - such as sea cabbage and kale.

GARDEN'S BEST FEATURES: It would be designed to catch the sun from morning to night.

NEIGHBOURS: None, but visitors would drop in from time to time from Cannes and New York.

MOTTO OVER THE DOOR: "The Ideal Villa", which is the title of a brilliant new essay by the great architectural theorist and writer, Colin Rowe.

WHAT IT WOULD COST: Christopher Newman, marketing director of Link-Up Properties Nationwide, thinks Francis Duffy might find a suitable plot of land for his ideal home on the South Downs. He could expect to pay between £120,000 and £170,000 for a 10-acre plot with planning permission. Architects' fees depend on the size of the project and the service required. The Royal Institute of British Architects (Riba) offers a client advisory service for people thinking about using architects. They can be contacted on 0171-580 5533.

Comments