2 November 2018
In the fifties, movies in the United States, and elsewhere, began to celebrate the unmarried man’s apartment as a model type of accommodation. The luxury version of the bachelor pad, a hedonist icon, was portrayed as the living space of a man with a love of art and contemporary architecture and a taste for the essential and sophisticated. The domestic setting that acts as a backdrop to the adventures of James Bond in Diamonds Are Forever (1971) or the intimist drama of A Single Man (2009), set in 1962, is an example. In both cases, moreover, the homes in which the characters act out their roles were designed by John Lautner: Elrod House (1968) and the Schaffer Residence (1949), respectively. Buildings at the cutting edge of Californian modernism. Whether we are talking about the entrepreneur Willard Whyte (Jimmy Dean), caught up in a struggle with James Bond, or Professor George Falconer (Colin Firth) in Tom Ford’s movie, the image is that of an elegant man capable of constructing a coherent look in which his home, his possessions, his clothes and his car all play a part. Residence VDB, located at Sint-Martens-Latem, in Flanders, and designed by the Belgian office Govaert & Vanhoutte, brings those atmospheres up to date and has the appearance of a building of sculptural character that finds the justification for the transparency of the ground floor in the visual relationship with the Lys river, which flows past it. Here, in fact, a glass envelope contains the daytime activities and the solarium. The large space of the living room, which holds a dialogue with the world outside through the large expanses of glass, puts the owner’s taste in art on display. A more compact concrete volume houses bedrooms and bathrooms on the upper floor, which opens onto the garden but has blank walls facing the river and the road. In the basement, on the other hand, there is an area for relaxation and evening entertainment: stairs lead down from the airy and brightly lit ground floor to the dark and cozy setting of the bar, from which it is possible to see the water inside the swimming pool and visit the area where the owner keeps his collection of cars. The balanced articulation of the volumes and the sober geometry of the composition express a contemporary sense of luxury, dignified in its essentiality and filled with cultured references.