What is 'carchitecture' or the art of including the car in the interior design?


In 2019, Sam Burch Architect designed a three-storey home with a garage for up to 15 vehicles. Photo: AFP

Architecture and automobiles have much more in common than one might first think. They are connected by a love of lines, fluidity, optimisation of spaces and, sometimes, spectacular design.

So it's not surprising that they have converged to give rise to "carchitecture".

This trend, spotted by Penta, consists of integrating the car into the home like any other beautiful object. Owners of Porsches, Maseratis, Aston Martins and other exceptional vehicles can admire them without having to go to their garage.

"Clients are choosing to have their cars in their homes or apartments, even at penthouse level, as a celebration of the car as a design object," architect Etienne Borgos, co-director of Borgos Pieper, told the trade magazine. "It's taking car ownership to the next level."

This desire to reinvent the car garage is giving rise to all sorts of extravagances. Chinese agency O-office Architects has transformed a former textile factory in Shenzhen into a modern home with an Alfa Romeo Tipo 33 Stradale in the middle.

In the Netherlands, Studio OXL transformed a carpenter's workshop into a spacious loft. The owner wanted to be able to display their 2008 Tesla Roadster in their living room, so the architectural firm decided to keep the former entryway of the factory intact.

Other architects choose to incorporate ramps or even elevators into the property designs, so that car enthusiasts can park their finest models wherever they please – whether that means in the living room or even on a mezzanine, as is the case in a 2019 three-storey home designed by Sam Burch Architect.

The home, which has a garage for up to 15 vehicles, is equipped with an elevator so the owner can display his Porsches and BMWs on any floor.

However, the owners did note on the Texas studio's website that they have to "make sure to not crash any vehicles through any of the large glass walls".

Carmakers in the grip of 'carchitecture'

While the term 'carchitecture' is relatively recent, the concept on which it is based is not new. It even fascinated famous 20th century architects such as Le Corbusier and Frank Lloyd Wright, who owned more than 80 cars during his lifetime.

This enthusiast even declared that "a car is not a horse, and it doesn't need a barn". So it's not surprising that some elements of the New York car showroom he built in 1954 are reminiscent of the Guggenheim Museum, his most famous building.

"The word ‘carchitecture’ is about the obsession of architects about cars, but also about car design that has a link to architecture,” Thijs Demeulemeester, journalist and co-author of the book Carchitecture: Houses with horsepower, told Penta.

Some car manufacturers have grasped this and offer top customers a service that entails designing exceptional, customised spaces for storing their vehicles.

This is the case with Aston Martin. Since 2019, the British group has been offering the "Automotive Galleries and Lairs" service in order to take "the Aston Martin experience" even further, in the words of Marek Reichman, executive vice president and chief creative director.

"For the car enthusiast, the garage is as important as the rest of the house. We want to take Aston Martin ownership to the next level, and a bespoke auto gallery... can help our customers do that," he said in a statement at the time of the service's launch.

More recently, the Aston Martin design team has taken the concept of "carchitecture" to the extreme by designing an 800sq m property in the heart of the New York countryside with the help of S3 Architecture.

The main entrance of this house with multiple windows is through a gallery-garage, which allows the owner of the place to expose their DB11, V12 Vanquish and Valkyrie like any work of art. – AFP Relaxnews

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