Perils Of Uniqueness

At his recent wedding, Idris Elba is reported to have said, “There’s no point in trying to fit in when you were born to stand out.”  And while that’s true, there’s also that Australian(?) saying that “The tall flower will always be the first to be cropped.”

In rants passim, I’ve railed against the follies of architectural folly, wherein the ego of the architect takes over the aesthetic sensibilities of the building, making it a tall flower in the neighborhood.  Making the building an extremely personal statement, therefore, is all very well, as long as you acknowledge the fact that your taste isn’t for everybody — with all its concomitant perils.  Here’s an example:

The asking price of a property that appeared on TV’s Grand Designs has been slashed by almost £1million in just six months.
The owners Bram and Lisa Vis have taken the drastic step after the ultra-modern property with six bedrooms failed to sell.
The huge 7,200 square foot house is set within 2.2 acres of land with an additional 3.8 acres of private beach, along with a heated swimming pool and a jacuzzi.
The luxury home on the Isle of Wight was completed in 2014, and featured on Channel 4’s Grand Designs the following year.

The key word is this: “ultra-modern”.  Here are a couple-three pics:

Because of all this, and despite having matchless coastal views:

And despite having had nationwide, even worldwide exposure on TV, we have this unfortunate outcome:

The significant reduction has seen the asking price drop from £3.95million in autumn last year to £2.99million today and means the couple are selling the property for less than the project cost to complete.

I have to admit, even if I had the money, there is no way I would even consider this modernist carbuncle — and clearly I am not alone in this judgement, hence the lack of interest in the market.  Furthermore, there’s a life lesson to be learned from this sorry tale.

Go ahead and indulge your ego by all means.  Just be aware that “standing out” (especially in the extreme, as in the above house’s style) may not always result in a favorable outcome.


  1. The inside joke among us architects is “Whenever anybody asks me who are the two greatest living architects, I can never think of the other guy’s name.”

  2. It’s one of those houses where you think, “well, that feature is kinda neat, but it’s overwhelmed by the flaws.”

    Like that TV room. Okay, interesting semicircular design, neat curtains – but the glare from behind the couch will make it really hard to watch TV unless it’s night.

  3. Frank Lloyd Wright designed one of his Unsonian homes for a nephew. Years later when a local magazine was doing an article on the house, the nephew’s wife was giving the reporter a tour, the reporter noticed buckets placed to catch rain leaks. When asked, the wife answered sardonically “That’s what happens when you leave a piece of art out in the rain.”

    1. Wright may have been a brilliant architect, but he was a horrible civil engineer. His buildings were infamous for structural issues.

  4. Views and Setting: “99+”
    Comfort Level: “5” … perhaps.
    But, as they say in the car-biz:
    There’s an ass for every seat – but this one is going to be a hard sell!

  5. Nothing will look passé so quickly as something considered “ultra-modern”. I supposed they said the same thing about “Art Deco” (it and its variants being my favourite style of architecture and design), but beauty is timeless.

  6. While they call it “ultra-modern”, it gives me an early 70’s feel, without the shag carpet and avocado colored appliances.

  7. I dunno, it’s got some charm and interesting design choices, at least on the outside. The interior, however, is not only tiny but seems to have been designed by Ray Charles.

    I would imagine, and hope, that 90% of the price is to do with the land– in which case the owners forgot the first rule of flipping anything: You make money when you buy, not when you sell.

  8. The interior of that place has all the warmth and charm of a hospital waiting room.

  9. Was that in a movie with somebody like Pierce Brosnan as a recluse bureaucrat with somebody like Brendan Gleason as the parent of a dead Brit soldier?

    As far as I remember, the lovely Mia Sollis wasn’t part of the cast.

    1. I remember that movie: Ghost Writer. Brosnan was the ex-BritPM writing his memoirs or something. Ewan MacGregor was the guy who was going to ghostwrite it. Very gloomy and atmospheric, with hidden skulduggery. Actually not bad, for a Polanski movie.
      And yeah, the movie’s house looks like that one, only with fewer trees.

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