De Beers diamond company heiress Rebecca Oppenheimer listed her custom-built home in the greater Seattle area this month. Ms. Oppenheimer is asking $11 million for the house, which was designed according to her desire for a wildly avant-garde architectural sensibility: a combination of Guggenheim museum and space-ship.
And the house is a genuine individual. The alternating timber and concrete present a visual balance which suggests a balance between natural world and architectural engineering, and the design uses a motif of intersecting circles for expression, featuring an entry that launches from the ground to the second floor via an exterior staircase. The atomic-age sci-fi imagery is heavy in the act of entering the house, and the symbolism is, too; one can only rise to the dwelling by first working through the earthbound circle. It’s a great house that has a subtext built right in.
Within, the home is warm, and uses soft tones, soft corners, and wood to define its living style. The rounded figure is constant, with curves a-plenty continually suggesting cycle. Glass is used heavily, but not as a default; like the home’s design in general, a great deal of thought went into window placement, so little liberating moments are scattered artfully throughout. Very cool.
The home was built in 2006, making this 6,500 square-footer a great, optimistic statement for the new century. In keeping, its ecological sensitivity is acute: geothermal and solar help power and heat.
If it looks a little lost in the wilderness, well, that’s also in keeping: the home is a retreat. A helipad makes quick getaways to recharge and rethink easy, and 80 acres provide a potently relaxing buffer between the house and professional life.