When thinking of refined elegance, bespoke designs and sleek finishes, ANARCHITECT is the first design practice to spring to mind. The brand synonymous with innovative modernist designs continues to take the architecture and interior world by storm and there are so signs of slowing down. Jonathan Ashmore and his team have yet again amazed with their award-winning Dubai Hills Villa. The impressive 3,000 sqm family home sits in Dubai’s newest upscale neighbourhood, Dubai Hills. With a panoramic backdrop of the city’s signature skyline and overlooking a highly regarded golf course, the residential project applied ‘modernist principles to create a family home in the practice’s signature style of refined spatial interventions, high-quality natural material palette, and pristine detailing.’ We had the chance to sit down with Jonathan to discuss all there was to know about the project that won ANARCHITECT the Residential Interior Design of the Year prize at the 2019 Commercial Interior Design Awards.
Jonathan, what was the inspiration behind the design of this villa?
Natural light and orientation became the main design inspirations for this residence. Our initial focus was to create new architectural intervention within the central courtyard that would create a gallery entrance, a serene courtyard with a focal olive tree, and a private family terrace on the first floor. Each of these spaces is framed by large full-height windows that draw in the natural light and focus the eye to various parts of the house horizontally and vertically across two levels. This ensures that the family remain visually connected and ultimately relaxed and calm as one should be in their own home.
If you had to describe the home in three words, what would those be?
Refined modernist luxury.
What was your goal with this project?
To create a timeless family home, beautifully crafted with obsessive detail and refined materials that would create a foundation for the young family to grow within as they had just relocated from Europe to begin life in the Middle East.
Do you have a favourite part of the home?
I have two that I cannot separate; the new courtyard intervention, designed in a way that truly engages the house with natural light and offers a constant physical and visual connection to private exterior spaces. The second is the main staircase; the obsessive design details it took to bring together beautiful silk-georgette stone, glass, American walnut, integrated lighting and brushed finish metals meant that the staircase was a piece of art in itself. It took nearly the entire duration of the 12-month fit-out construction period to complete the feature stair. The quality of execution is superb which made it so rewarding for us as the architects and also the client with their unique piece.
Can you tell us more about that incredible staircase?
The feature staircase starts from the lower-ground level. The staircase risers from lower-ground to the ground floor are finished in honed Silk-Georgette stone, intricately detailed to appear as a ‘tectonic shift’ that turns twice through 180 degrees. The balustrade comprises of crystal-clear laminated glass with a 45-degree micro-chamfered edge. Each stair tread is an individual pane of glass balustrade linked by a continuous brushed-stainless steel handrail, electro-plated to a soft-nickel finish that runs the full three-storeys of the residence. Suspended within the central void to the height of 15m is a bespoke light piece created by Lasvit designed in collaboration with ANARCHITECT and the lighting design consultants on the project, John Cullen Lighting.
What challenges did you have to overcome during the project?
There were no major challenges faced during the project, which was mainly down to the successful and highly detailed coordination during the design process which ANARCHITECT was the lead consultant. To ensure that this level of quality and efficiency was consistent throughout, it was important that we put the right design team together, including a structural engineer, services engineer, lighting designer, landscape and project manager.
How did you incorporate modernist principles throughout the architectural design and interiors?
By creating a focal gallery entrance we provided a clean perpendicular connection to the main living space and formal entertainment space that span the full width of the rear of the property with views out over the swimming pool, garden and 18th hole of the golf course beyond through the new full-height glazed openings. The pure mass and scale of the stone walls and the precision of the glazed openings play a balance of solid and transparency in the central space that also frames views and provides points of orientation throughout the home. The modernist courtyard intervention also draws in abundant natural daylight deep into the floor plate. The material thresholds, details and junctions throughout the residence are further defined by precise horizontal and vertical shadow gaps or precise stainless-steel insertions that play a key part in the perception of straight, clean modernist lines.