Architect as A Client: The Homes Architects Build for Themselves

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The home is a personal and private space. There is no one but the home’s occupants that determine how it should be used, and for some who have the opportunity, to work with an architect to build their home to determine how each space is designed.


If you have the opportunity to look into the home of an architect, you can see his or her vision and aesthetics because in this unique case, the architect is the client. Some architects design their own home as a representation of their values and design aesthetic. Some may also design it as an experiment on the design ideas that they have accumulated through years of inspiration, sourcing, visits, ideas etc.


In London, the most prominent architect who treated his home as a ground for experimentation was Sir John Soane. His home in Lincoln’s Inn Fields in Holborn is a labyrinth of rooms with seemingly odd placement of doors, natural light from discreet directions. The architect’s love for paintings and antiques is also apparent in the way he uses the walls and corners of each room.



On a more recent build, the Centaur Street house by dRMM is described by the architect as having

“flexible layouts created a regeneration concept of sustainable, long-lasting, loose fit living.”

This is particularly relevant to today’s society, where the flexibility to sub-divide the apartment is favourable to create live-work space, or separation of the unit to accommodate growing children or even the separation of couples.



One of my personal favourite architect’s home is Philip Johnson’s Glass House. Philip Johnson began his professional life by being the client - building his own home. His home is the embodiment of modernism, which ties in with the show he organised on The International Style: Architecture since 1922. With no exterior walls but only glass windows, the interiors were also as controversial as the exterior; the internal cylinder brick structure acts as the entrance to the bathroom on one end and a fireplace on the other end. In 1997, it was declared a National Historic Landmark. If you happen to be in New Canaan, it is worth the visit.

In the forest of Catskill State Park in New York, Peter Gluck and his son Thomas build the Tower House. With a top-floor cantilevered living space, this structure focuses on the views over the treetops. The architects built it as the experimentation of materials and structure, as well as the vision for an energy-conscious heating solution through their carefully placed bedrooms in the house’s core.

The architect as a client is a fascinating topic along with unique outcomes. From curiosity as an individual or student who is interested in architecture, or even search for an architect for your own home, there are a few books researched and written on this topic. I have included them below for your further reading:

Architects’ Houses by Michael Webb.


• Norman Foster • Buzz Yudell & Tina Beebe • Smiljan Radic • Richard Murphy • Jennifer Beningfield • Thom Mayne • John Wardle • Hans van Heeswijk • Anton García-Abril & Débora Mesa • Todd Saunders • Jim Olson • Mauricio Pezo & Sofia von Ellrichshausen • Helle Schröder & Martin Janekovic • Peter & Thomas Gluck • Robert Konieczny • Scott Johnson • José Selgas & Lucía Cano • Don Murphy • Andrea & Luca Ponsi • Cristián Undurraga • Susanne Nobis • Remo Halter & Thomas Lussi • Ramon Bosch & Elisabeta Capdeferro • Kulapat Yantrasast • Kerry Hill Maarten & Jetty Min • Brigitte Shim & Howard Sutcliffe • Benny Govaert • Tod Williams & Billie Tsien • Günther Domenig


The Architect’s Home by Peter Gossel


Architects’ Homes by Bethany Patch


Features the homes of a range of leading architects from around the world, including the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Japan, and Europe


We encourage discussion and would be happy to receive your questions or comments at


Yvonne Chua, Architect | 28 February 2019

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