Frank Lloyd Wright bestrides the 20th century as its most revered architect. A bold experimentalist who believed “form and function should be one, joined in a spiritual union,” his visionary designs turned their backs on their Chicago suburbs with steep, gabled roofs, high walls, and fortress-like turrets, which evolved into the low, terrain-embracing, organic structures that he dubbed the Prairie style. When his work went out of fashion, he made a comfortable living by teaching and dealing in Japanese prints. In later years, back in style, Wright’s bold modernism gave us the Guggenheim Museum and the iconic glory of Fallingwater. He taught and influenced generations of architects (and yet disdained the works of contemporaries in his lifelong refusal to join the American Institute of Architects. The AIA, of course, gave him its highest honor, the Gold Medal, in 1949). This edition of Luxury Defined highlights the works of Wright’s devotees in honor of his June 8 birth, 155 years ago.
Villa Maria and Mews in Killiney, Co Dublin, Ireland
The slopes of Killiney Hill Road shelter some of Ireland’s unique mid-century homes, including this scenic villa on 1.3 acres of gardens facing Killiney Bay. Villa Maria was designed and built in 1954 by architect Jack O’Hare, an apprentice of Frank Lloyd Wright in the 1940s at both Taliesin and Taliesin West. O’Hare created a house that follows the contours of the hill, with 270-degree views of Dalkey Island, Bray Head, and the Wicklow Mountains. The owners, who purchased Villa Maria in 1986, sensitively restored and updated the property and hired Gold Medal-winning landscape architect Robert Carson to integrate the house and gardens, using reclaimed stone sourced from County Wicklow. O’Hare’s central vision was to escape the idea of a “house-as-a-box”. Instead, the living spaces are layered over three levels to connect the indoors with the outdoors. Five of the home’s six en suite bedrooms are housed within a bridge, anchored between two trees. The elegant drawing room and the kitchen-dining-living room, with its Jasmine vine-clad atrium ceiling, are on the main floor. Both rooms open to raised terraces overlooking the gardens and the bay. There are two offices, a gym, a comms room, and a utility room. The lower level houses a guest apartment with its own terrace. The two-bedroom mews offers an additional 624 square feet of living space and a private entrance on Killiney Road. The grounds are ultimately private, offering several nooks and terraces to take in the sea air. Beyond are reflecting pools, a Zen garden, and wide lawns bounded by ferns, eucalyptus, and palm trees.
The Pemberton Residence in Austin, Texas
The Pemberton Residence sits at the edge of Bryker Woods and Pemberton Heights in Old West Austin. Its architect, Kevin Alter, founder of AIA Award-winning Alterstudio Architecture, designed the striking single-story structure as an homage to the classic California mid-century tract homes built by the pioneering 20th-century developer and Wright devotee Joseph L. Eichler. The residence conveys that mid-century modern aesthetic through its curved oak-clad exterior and fluid, light-infused interior. Floor-to-ceiling windows overlook three enclosed, xeriscaped courtyards. Sunlight streams in from oversized skylights, illuminating the wide-plank, white-oak floors and long, oak-panelled hallways. Panelled walls conceal all the closets and bathrooms, including the primary bathroom, which opens to a private outdoor shower. The heart of the home is a contemporary kitchen with a granite breakfast bar and a stylish lounge with a suspended stove. Sliding glass doors at the rear of the house open to a private garden with a plunge pool, hot tub, verdant lawn, and well-maintained flower beds.
Ipeak House in Caledon, Ontario, Canada
Ipeak House is a bold, brilliant postmodern home surrounded by 100 wooded acres in the Caledon countryside, just an hour from Toronto. Kariouk Architects designed the residence as a forest retreat in the spirit of Wright’s Organic Architecture. The design’s primary focus is its long, tent-angled steel roof, shaping the interior volumes and circulation path towards a view of the forest. The asymmetric steel frame construction is clad in slate (mirrored on several interior walls) to echo the rock outcrops on the grounds. Wood ceilings and timber beams warm the vast great room with its enormous skylight, gas fireplace with a polished granite surround—just off a two-story deck with a white oak tongue-and-groove ceiling and ipe wood floor. The open-concept kitchen has a lounge with an elevated, open fireplace. The children’s bedrooms are suspended like a cocoon above the main floor from a 40-foot steel beam and accessed by a catwalk. The lower level is dedicated to entertainment and relaxation, with a movie theater, gaming room, infrared sauna, family room, and guest bedroom. Transom windows infuse the space with natural light and bring in the views of the surrounding forest, meadows, and ponds.
1950s Mansion in San Fernando, Buenos Aires, Argentina
A wooded ravine enfolds this alluring mid-century modern mansion in San Fernando de la Buena Vista, a port city 20 miles northwest of Buenos Aires. Architect Raúl von der Becke modeled the design on Wright’s cantilevered 1935 masterwork, Fallingwater, in Laurel Highlands, Pennsylvania. This house follows the precepts of FLW’s Organic Architecture: “Simplicity and repose are the qualities that measure the true value of any work of art.” The home has been completely restored, yet perfectly preserved since its construction in the late 1950s. The 12,917-square-foot interior spans four levels accessed by stairs and an elevator. There are six bedrooms and seven bathrooms. Two offices/studios can double as additional accommodations. The main living and dining area is on the third floor, along with a guest bathroom, balcony and a terrace with an authentic quincho barbecue grill. The top floor has a teak roof terrace to take in the panoramic views of the home’s beautiful private gardens. The second floor houses four bedrooms; one is en suite and each has a private balcony. The lower levels have an additional two bedrooms with a shared bathroom and a balcony, and staff and service rooms. The landscaped gardens offer a haven of tranquility with a resort-like pool deck, tropical trees and flowering plants. A car collector’s garage has seven parking spaces.
The Spica Estate in Gelderland, Netherlands
This unique waterfront residence is situated on beautiful grounds surrounded by a lake overlooking The Dutch golf course in the village of Spijk. The Spica Estate has the allure of a country house yet with the amenities and décor of a chic urban hotel—underground parking with space for a dozen cars, a butler’s house, and a carriage house with pool, gym, sauna, and hammam. Evocative of Wright’s Prairie style, the main residence is a tiered, cantilevered structure with an organic, open plan layout, featuring vaulted ceilings, a warm palette, and abundant fenestration. The property is currently configured as six penthouse suites, each with more than 6,000 square feet of living space and 2,500 square feet of terraces from which to take in the bucolic views.