The word ‘luxury’ can have quite a breadth of meaning behind it, with each person’s understanding of what constitutes something as luxurious being specific to their own tastes. The problem is that it’s easy to fall into a trap of excess, where numerous displays of wealth and grandeur equate a lavish lifestyle. For any architect, finding their client’s personal understanding of luxury is the first step, and only then can it be tempered to be made subtle and sophisticated. How can lavish elegance be met with the warmth necessary for a family home? How can opulence be moderated yet still be desirable?
Born from a close cooperation between client and architect, this family home designed by Benyei Architectural Studio is a testament to the sort of building that can come from a bold and compelling idea and an architect that can enhance such boldness while still maintaining a keen eye for sophistication and brevity. And while luxury was an underpinning facet of the build, it was a careful, tactful understanding of moderation that has helped turn it into something noteworthy.
Take the reception room of the house, for example, a six-meter-high space that is not over the top in filling the space with ostentatious choice of materials. A considered hand guided its design and as such it is a space dominated by air, not fragmented into separate living areas but rather left intact as one airy zone.
“Fortunately, the homeowner was open to making even more of an impact with moderation,” says István Bényei, the head of the studio. “In the architecture of luxury houses, the aesthetic quality is often not due to crowdedness and grandeur, but instead to the generosity of space.”
Together with architect Gábor Filippinyi and interior designer Dóra Sáfrán, Bényei and the team were able to craft a building that found a balance between luxury and moderation that has become doubly breathtaking thanks to the purposeful decision to leave such a huge space open and intact.
This sense of careful moderation is clear from the outside, too, where the home is simple, clean and yet still vibrant. Its subdued elegance came from the great effort that was put into hiding more than it shows. By day there is a dynamism to the structure, one that radiates with its own purpose and power. And yet by night this gives way to a softer side of the building, the lights of the home illuminating the house, the garden and the surrounding fence. The softness is echoed in the large textile shading that protects the home, sheltering it and adding to its secluded sense of vulnerability. The large 1,600-square-foot garden and the building’s connected terraces enhance that sense of openness and equally become an integral part of the structure.
It was crucial for Benyei’s team to ensure there was a purity to the building and born from that was its cavernous sense of attachment to the land, as though it is a natural part of the surrounding environment as it seems to subtly emerge from it rather than exist within it. Constructed over the course of four years, the 517-square-foot building recalls a simplicity from its monolithic appearance; the reinforced concrete creates a stoic and strong approach to its elegance. The architectural inspiration of the 1930s complements an aesthetic design of the 1960s, both of which were a driving force behind the look of the building and something that is typical of the architectural studio.
Perhaps the interior design of the home is the aspect that is most significant in maintaining a luxurious yet tactful style, filled with clean shapes and an elegant use of space rather than overloading with ornate and unnecessary decoration. The family home’s rooms feature interior design solutions that make great use of premium materials. The living room wall, for example, is covered with three-dimensional tiles created by KAZA Concrete.
The textiles of the room – its cushions, curtains and blankets – were designed by textile designer Andrea Hegedűs at the request of the architectural firm. The centrepiece is in the dining room, however, where a custom-designed Manooi crystal chandelier hovers above an Italian volcanic rock table. Rather than an overuse of design, luxury in this family home comes from the understanding of quality rather than quantity. By paying attention to the exacting qualities of construction, materials and elegant design, Benyei Architectural Studio brought luxury to the forefront with a smart and careful sophistication. Bold, rather than brash.
On top of all this and thanks to its structural solutions, this new family home meets the criteria of a passive house since its energy is provided by a geothermal system. By combining a contemporary approach to technology with classic modernism, the structure has captured a sense of luxury interpreted as grandiose 21st Century elegance.