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  • Writer's pictureJohn Henry Architect

How a Classical Custom Home can be Timeless...

Welcome to Villa Serena.

This is a singular house that was built in an area that is hidden from public view. Like a hidden gem lost in a forest, only a handful of people have ever seen it. The owner wished complete secrecy, not even publication.

Why is this villa so distinct? What makes it timeless? Can you guess when it was built? Are there any clues?

Notice that the design is completely symmetrical. The main entry floor is raised above grade.

Stucco walls, ceramic tile and smaller glass openings are the main materials.

There is a curve in the entry porch wall. The entry steps are curved. There are arches over windows.

The conceptual floor plans and elevation/façade of this house were drawn by hand. The construction drawings were drawn by hand.

If you look closely, the columns, steps, and balusters are carved of natural stone, as are many of the window surrounds. They were carved and tooled by hand.

So this design mimics aspects of the human body.

Our head is curved, our eyes are curves, our mouth nose and ears are curved. Our muscles curve out from our bodies.

We could say that some houses have anthropomorphic features. That is: they mimic the human form.

The rear of the house has a façade unlike the front, a takeoff from the Roman god Janus.

The interior echoes the curves of the porch steps in the grand staircase. And you see the natural stone. Also synthetics incorporated.

It pays homage to Italian architecture of the 18th century.

Hello, I’m John Henry and I would like to explain why I do what I do.

I was surrounded in my youth by unfamiliar peoples in a strange and ancient land. This territory was Asia Minor and it was populated by a host of cultures from the earliest dawn of mankind to Hittite and then Greek and Roman settlements until Mongol hordes came and finally the country of Turkey prevailed.

My parents would take weekend excursions and explore prehistoric settlements and ancient cities of stone abandoned and destroyed, left in ruins for thousands of years.

The idea of people who lived and worked together creating singular monuments to their gods in exquisite stone detailing was branded in my mind and after some turns in deciding on a profession I finally embraced architecture.

The university program however had been programmed by Modernists who completely eschewed any type of building that did not rely wholly on contemporary construction materials and methods and thus the process of “the ancients” was ignored. A two and half thousand year tradition was dismissed intentionally in favor of ‘machine architecture’.

I think classical architecture is a superior basis for designing buildings

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