The Starship Serenity pix
A futuristic house by Architröpolis touches down in Atlanta.
Georgia Dzurica -- Interior Design, 1/1/2006 12:00:00 AM
Floating in the pool at his friend Lenny Kravitz's supercool house in Miami early one morning, music and film executive Dallas Austin mused out loud about living in a "spaceship" like Kravitz's someday. It wasn't long before the rocker's architect, Architröpolis principal Michael Czysz, was on his way to Atlanta to help Austin look for a lot.
When Czysz arrived, Austin moved out of his loft and let the architect move in, so he could get a feel for what it was like to coexist with Austin's collection of sneakers and his entertainment-industry artifacts. (He's worked with Aretha Franklin, Madonna, and Usher and was the executive producer for the feature film Drumline.) It was living in the apartment, Czysz says, that he developed a bold concept based on his client's request for a medley of styles and decades: "What if the job went to a team of Vulcans—who had just watched Gattaca and visited the Guggenheim and Niketown?"
That vision culminated in the Austintonian, as the 8,200-square-foot bachelor pad is called. In a neighborhood where the front columns of traditional houses are wrapped like candy canes during the holidays, the newcomer sits like a lunar yacht in the basin of a wooded 3 1/2-acre lot. The smooth white stucco exterior is punctuated every now and then with portholes, and parts of the roof, rising like the prows of the mother ship, recall Eero Saarinen's TWA Terminal at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York. On the roof's flat sections, smooth stones—as opposed to gravel—offer ballast with a Zen aesthetic.
Czysz's design manages to be restorative 'and provocative all at once, with circles and ovals wrapped in the loopy exuberance of a sine curve looking for its groove. "The shapes are conducive to quiet," he explains. "They make a statement that's almost outrageous to a visitor but, at the same time, is incredibly warm, incredibly homey, incredibly comfortable." This cocoon of serenity is exactly what a globe-trotting music executive needs to retreat from the world, like a silkworm.
The house is composed of two ellipses. One is the two-story main house. The other, reached via an enclosed bridge, is the master suite. In both pavilions, Czysz eschewed corners, eliminating base moldings, door frames, and headers. Curves are emphasized by shiny materials reminiscent of German automotive interiors—warmed up by shag, lamb, and suede.
The main entry, tucked behind a small reflecting pool and a bamboo garden, is where shoes are removed and everyone slips into white scuffs to protect the espresso-stained walnut floor. Dominated by a massive round column, the space creates a "compressed" or "submerged" feeling, with only one slanted oval window looking out. Much of the rest of the ground level is taken up by four guest rooms, intended for Austin's regularly visiting family members. 'There's also a media room, equipped with a custom-size screen, and a meditation room, where black-and-white futons unfold to cover the floor and the walls display photographs of Chuck Berry, David Bowie, and Mick Jagger.
Two spiral staircases and an elevator lead upstairs to the carpeted living area, which opens to a terrace and an infinity pool via aluminum-framed doors in the glass curtain wall—so barbecuing and stargazing are just a few steps away. The living area's mammoth white leather-covered sectional sofa and ottoman are sited to take advantage of the view, while the back of the sofa follows the curve of a semicircular scrim that defines the kitchen. Designed specially for Austin's mother, who lives nearby and often comes over to cook, it's fitted with the professional-grade appliances she loves.
From the kitchen's round white lacquer-topped table, the view is of the master suite "island," surrounded by a man-made ' pond required by municipal zoning, since Austin's lot sits in a 100-year-old flood plain. The technical purpose of the pond is to conceal tanks and pipes, but Czysz treated it as a reflecting pool. Crossing the water, the bridge is aglow in acrylic tinted orange, his own favorite color as well as Austin's. The floor of the master suite is actually below water level, enhancing the floating sensation. To get even closer to the water, Austin can open a floor-to-ceiling glass door to a teak dock furnished with an opium bed. "The house is the most peaceful place ever," he says. "The circles, the rocks, the water—the naturalness of everything." And the reign of peace is about to expand. In phase two, Czysz will add a serene oasis in the form of a detached spa.