This is a project by Bensley Design Studios and it is located at Chieng Mai, Thailand. Project's program: Single family house. There are twenty eight images for Khun Jerri and Howard’s Place.
A Passion for Good Life. Jerri and Howie have a good life. They live in this exotic home. They work hard and play hard. They are loved by many. And Howie, seeking a long and good life, has dropped 40 kilos!
Howie, hails from Boston, lives here with Jerri, his gorgeous wife, who is an accomplished dancer and choreographer. Over the last 6 years Howie and Jerri have changed from being clients to our best friends, with whom we travel the world.
Howie came to visit me at the Four Seasons Chieng Mai and we had a conversation about his dream home over an expresso. I sketched the plan on a paper napkin that he still keeps, and that is, more or less, what you see on these pages.
We have designed a home of pavilions. On a sprawingly 4 hectare piece of property just 5 minutes from the Four Seasons Chieng Mai, we orchistrated a pavillion for the master bedroom, a pavillion for the dining room and kitchen, for Howies office, for the living room, for the guest room, and for Jerri’s Mom’s bedrooms + dining room. In the remote carpark there is a pavillion for the cars too. All of these pavillions are linked simply by Shangri la like gardens and the sky above. Architectural Digest asked Howie; so what do you do when it rains? He answered; **You get wet!** This is not a new idea, as basically all South East Asian vernacular dwellings are built as a compound of buildings with various uses. The western idea of attached functions, with the exception of perhaps the ancient royal palaces, simply didn’t exist.
Howie brief was, like Harveys’ brief, water water everywhere, and that is exactly what he got. The courtyard of the living, dining and master bedroom is a swimming pool. The entire west aspect of his home sits on an extensive water garden. At every turn there is water falling out of something or into something. Water flows from solid boulders, out of boats and the rain waters fall 5 meters into the water gardens from the mouths or three Thai bird busts.
Designing a home can be just as much work for us as designing a whole resort, and sometimes even harder as personal issues as opposed corporate issues are more difficult to deal with. For us, it is essential that the owner has 110% confidence in our abilities to execute.
Confident, Jirachai built a garden of superb beauty over a period of 2-3 years, vignette by vingnette. In these four hectares we can see perhaps 20 different sub gardens, each with their own charector and far more than my publisher will allow to be shown on these pages. We purchased, plant by plant, to create a garden that now boasts some 350 species.
Knowing that Howie was an avid shopper, we set up two basic principles; buy collections, and restrict the fixed forever features to two colors, safron and pale greens. Strangely both colors are produced by rust. The majority of the safron walls is created by an iron sulfate wash, where orange rust is visable in the cement. The pale green is from the green patina rust of the much used copper. The entire estate is built around this scheme, from the pale green patina facets and oversized bath towels to the safron hues of the teak wood and rusty colored silks.
I could not have asked for a better client. Howie, an experienced real estate developer, and restaraunteer, (his Howie Burgers are to die for!) knew a thing or two about building. He was his own contractor, carpenter, engineer, and technical advisor. He installed himself an incredible sound and light system, all perfectly automated to the touch of his remote control. It took him 6 months of research to find the best way to get a huge flat screen TV to rise out of the wide panneled teak wood floor, unoticible when not in use. He always asks what to do when a decision of aesthetics needs to be taken, and is quick to give, unselfishly, the design credit to Jirachai and I. What a guy!
The day Architectural Digest hit the newstands October 2006, with Khun Howard and Jerry’s place, was a proud day for us all! Now that is all done Howie would like to sell this property. Oh well, we will just have to make a better one up the lane.