Guest Blog: Modern Architecture and Design Society (MA+DS)
Builder Arpan Gupta, MD (but that’s another story for another time) president of Carnegie Homes, was tasked with a unique proposition. Create a modern urban dwelling for a brother and a sister that would both maintain their familial closeness, but still pay great respect to their diverse needs and tastes.
“The family is very well traveled and well versed in all sorts of aesthetics,” Gupta told us. “They had been living in an estate in the Woodlands (an exclusive area about 45 minutes north of Houston, Texas) for many years and the kids both attended high school in the Woodlands as well. They decided to move into the Galleria area once both the children had graduated high school and started college, and there they found that the only area around the Galleria that truly had a consistently newer, more developed, and significant modern appeal was St. George Place.”
“Carnegie Homes has built a number of homes in the neighborhood in the last decade,” Gupta continues, “and they initially fell in love with one of our Spanish Homes with modern finishes. As they continued to discuss the possibility of purchasing one of our spec homes, we advised them on the possibility of new home construction. We found them a very rare corner lot and there was borne the idea of a separate home for the brother and sister.”
The initial concept took a while to work out, as managing distinct styles—even when two individuals share a common general idea—can be quite challenging, just ask any interior designer that has worked with a married couple!
Gupta explains, “Antonio was more of the clean line straight modern aesthetic and Aby started out a little more transitional. But as we worked through the finishes and we emphasized how incredible the opportunity for high ceilings and floor to ceiling windows was, they couldn’t resist the allure of the more modern elevation. We worked with both of them completely independently and the homes reflect the masculine and the feminine. However, we married the two homes on some key elements such as the brilliant DEKTON HALO flooring we imported from Spain for the first floor and the use of Madeval modern cabinets imported from South America. In the end, the two homes were the perfect complements to one another in how they diverged but also in elements which remain the same. Truly a brother and sister development in more ways than one.”
Partnered with Gupta on this build was Michael Garcia and his refuGe Design Studio. Gupta explains, “We engaged Mike Garcia to help us with the design as in all our years working together I found him to be the most humble and gifted architect in the modern realm, a rare find!”
refuGe’s motto is, “Design With a Purpose—Design for Humanity,” and this project, two connected homes on one site for two different people, embodies the challenges in that philosophy is a series of unique ways.
Last time we talked with Michael was in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, and we learned then that the personal aspect of creating homes is of paramount importance, so it was no surprise to see a unique connection with both sides (literally) of this latest project. We asked about the challenges inherent in developing such a dwelling, and made the mistake of referring to it as a “duplex of sorts.” We had no idea at the time that we were understating the significance and the meaning of the undertaking!
Garcia replied, “I think the term ‘duet’ would be more appropriate. The circumstances created a certain ‘harmony,’ as it pertained to family. However, each home is distinct, as are the siblings. These structures are bound by blood, but fueled by individuality and idealism.
“It’s as if each home is a different side of the brain, further reinforced by the owners’ respective careers. One analytical/pragmatic and the other artistic/creative, but each is comfortable with one another. The synergy is unusual and perfect. There are subtle differences in the use of space, but they are strictly driven by lifestyle.”
Digging deeper into the dichotomy as well as the synergy shown in the final result, Garcia added, “I love the balance, and it made the project was a joy. Individuals should strive for that flexibility within themselves. Most people are not comfortable with that duality. It can be a dark place, but as John Lobell wrote, ‘Inspiration is the feeling of beginning at the threshold where silence and light meet.’ This project and its owners transcended the darkness.”
And transcending darkness is, in a way, what the project is all about. When we saw the images we were fascinated. Fascinated by the subtle differences between the two sides, and fascinated by the pure, white light and personal canvas that each home has become.
The Modern Architecture + Design Society produces architecture and design events across North America.