This is great news for those of you who pine for the return of much-missed TV show Through The Keyhole, in which Lloyd Grossman took the audience on a voyeuristic tour around a famous person’s house, for no real reason other than sheer nosiness. “Who lives in a house like this?” he would drawl, slowly revealing clues to the identity of the celebrity inhabitant while we all guessed along at home, only to realise at the big reveal that we’d never heard of them.
Lloyd might have given up the telly job to build a pasta sauce empire, but Francesca Molteni and Davide Pizzigoni have taken up the baton. The pair persuaded eight of the world’s top architects, including Zaha Hadid and 2014 Pritzker Prize winner Shigeru Ban, to throw open the front doors and reveal their own homes to our prying eyes. You may be expecting, given their occupants’ status as leading architectural innovators, that they all live in Jetsons-style futuristic mansions, or outlandishly avant garde concept homes. They don’t, which is both a slight disappointment and the reason why this exhibition is so interesting: most of the places seem – at first glance at least – quite normal, and are full of ideas that you can steal for your own homes.
But not all of them. One guy who is definitely living “out there” on the edge of things is Shigeru Ban, who built his place in the Hanegi Forest in 1997. And when I say in, I mean in, as there’s two of the forest’s trees still growing happily right through the middle. Ban rose to his own challenge of not uprooting a single tree in the process of building his house in a suburb of Tokyo. Bijoy Jain’s home seems a more traditional set-up from the inside, but the man from Studio Mumbai actually built a village 30km outside of the city where he and 60 of his craftsmen and employees could live and work in an architectural commune. That sounds as though it might be a bit claustrophobic, but not a bit of it. Marvel at the peace and tranquillity of his Reading Room, a meditative space designed to reflect the changing qualities of light throughout the day.
What does come as a surprise while snooping around the homes of top architects is the presence of kitschy collectibles, but hey, I suppose if you’re an award-winning architect like Marcio Kogan you design the perfect house for other people and have your own place full of mementos and travel souvenirs. Kogan has certainly racked up the travel miles in a career which took off after he won a competition to design a São Paulo tower block in 1980, in which he still lives. He claims to remember the story behind every one of his keepsakes – a feat in itself.
Eight top architects, eight cities, one fascinating result. Where Architects Live was commissioned to accompany this year’s Salone del Mobile in Milan, and a book giving the full insight into the spaces and revealing how the exhibition installations were made is available from Corraini.