This Dubai Hills Villa is a 3,000 sqm private property located in Dubai’s new upscale neighbourhood, Dubai Hills.
The refined property has been reimagined by Dubai and London based architecture practice ANARCHITECT and is home to a successful young family recently relocated from Europe. The villa overlooks the eighteenth hole of the highly regarded golf-course with a spectacular backdrop of panoramic views of Dubai’s signature skyline. ANARCHITECT applied modernist principles to create a family home in the practice’s signature style of refined spatial interventions, high-quality natural material palette, and pristine detailing. The practice was appointed to re-plan and design a residence in which the family could grow, manage their busy lives and express individual passions for fashion, art, motorsports and upscale social gatherings.
One of the key challenges of the project was working with a predefined, stylised developer shell and modernising it by modifying and designing the space to draw in natural light, connect various property levels and turn a sprawling floor plate of the villa into a bespoke home which responds to the family’s needs. The result, delivered by ANARCHITECT’s international team, enhances the ‘togetherness’ of all the family members through clever spatial planning, ingenious way-finding for the youngest family members and addition of interconnected areas dedicated to specific family past times and lifestyle activities. The Villa project also won the Interior Design of the Year: Residential Award at the prestigious CID Awards 2019.
‘‘Throughout the design process, we constantly visualised how different members of the family would use each and every space within the new home. The most inspiring opportunity lied within the challenge to connect and frame views across the home from all corners of each floor to encourage healthy interaction and therefore strengthen the sense of ‘family and security’ which we felt was important particularly for the client’s young children.”
Jonathan Ashmore, Founder and Principal, ANARCHITECT
Making an Entrance
The base-build developer shell of the Villa purchased by the client was originally centred on an oversized open courtyard which created a physical disconnection between the entrance and the main spaces of the property. ANARCHITECT conceived Dubai Hills Villa as a refinement of a ‘dense and solid mass’ inspired by the region’s vernacular response to the extreme climate conditions. The proportions and volumes of some of the property’s interior spaces are intentionally imposing with the use of beautifully satin finished natural solid stone that inherently cools the ambient temperatures and softly reflects incidental light around the spaces to create a calm and serene spatial condition for the home. The new inner courtyard extension created a statement entrance gallery to the property – four and a half meters high and flooded with natural light through a structural-glass skylight.
‘As you step into the main entrance your innate response is to look up, connecting you to the sky above. As you draw your eyes back down, you glimpse the newly created first-floor exterior family terrace. Your focus is then readjusted towards the distant feature aquarium that frames the view through to the living room beyond’
Ashmore describes of the entrance experience.
To the left of the entrance gallery ANARCHITECT introduced a serene open-air courtyard, in which the expansive minimal-profile glazing now frames a six-meter tall olive tree. Scattered loose white gravel ensures the courtyard has a consistent brightness to bounce light back into the adjacent interior spaces and a ‘satisfying’ crunch beneath each footstep; a desire of the architects to deliver an appealing acoustic to break the ambient silence and remind the clients of their life back in European gardens. The courtyard is also strategically positioned and visible throughout the grand property, to ensure it can be effortlessly navigated by even by the youngest of residents. The Dubai Hills Villa courtyard intervention is both an interior and exterior space based on modernist principles of function, circulation, visual framing and inside-outside connections across two levels with an over-riding presence of abundant natural light. The selection of natural stone embodies ANARCHITECT’s dedication to craftsmanship and materiality.
Family Living and Upscale Entertaining
The entrance level of the Villa consists of his and hers private offices, a library, central courtyard and gallery leading to the main living areas of the property: open living space, bespoke kitchen and family dining area. The lounge opens out to an outdoor family area which includes a swimming pool, sun terrace, and gardens. The formal entertainment and dining area is discreetly located behind two pocket-sliding walnut doors. The subtle shift in the interior character – featuring walnut timber ceiling and bespoke wine cabinetry and bar – denotes a private entertaining ‘grown-up’ ambiance.
Personal Passions and Family Entertainment
The lower-ground level accommodates the client’s car collection, a gymnasium and wellness, and spa areas. The latter consist of a gymnasium, weights studio, steam, sauna, massage, changing room and salon. In addition, a generous stone-clad up-lit hallway leads towards the feature staircase passing a discreet doorway that leads into the family’s Alcantara-clad cinema room.
The feature staircase captures the architectural vision of the project in its entirety. Spanning three levels, the distinct architectural form physically floats. It is offset from the surrounding stone walls, connected only where the staircase greets each floor plate. Each tread depicts a tectonic shift in the form as if sliced from a solid block of natural material. ‘The stair encompasses our entire design approach to the property: a striking architectural form, flooded with natural daylight, dynamic in light and shadow, intricately crafted and detailed. It brings together the solidity and weight of the natural stone, the visceral character of natural walnut timber and the precision of cut-glass and stainless-steel inserts’ highlights Ashmore. The transition from the honed natural stone between the lower-ground and entrance level to a beautiful walnut timber is intentional to announce the movement from semi-public areas of the home to the private quarters and guest areas.
Rest and Restore
The Master suite, children’s bedrooms, ‘work and play’ room and four further guest-rooms make up the first-floor accommodation of the Villa. Bespoke walnut timber panels clad the walls of the main hallway centred on the open courtyard below. The area doubles up as a secluded family terrace, an innate sanctuary to nurture family life.
Bespoke bedrooms designed for the children, whilst modern and refined, also evoke a sense of play and adventure with varying levels, secret hiding spots, slides and ladders.
The Last Word in Modernist Luxury
Dubai Hills Villa is an exemplar of Modernist Luxury and a refined private residence. Led by Ashmore’s innate understanding of clients’ needs and application of modernist principles, ANARCHITECT delivered an outstanding piece of architecture and design, exuding superlative material, craft, and detail. Most importantly, the practice created a refined family home. A safe, private environment in which to nurture and grow family life, express individual personalities, restore and recuperate and to relish life’s most enjoyable moments.
ANARCHITECT is a multiple award-winning architecture, interior architecture and design practice based in Dubai and London that specializes in delivering bespoke projects for design-conscious private and corporate clients globally. Its diverse portfolio of built work spans residential, leisure, hospitality, workplace and culture throughout the Middle-East, Europe and Asia.
Founded in 2013 by British architect Jonathan Ashmore, the practice manifests architecture across diverse scales of design with superlative craft, detail and materiality. Architectural discourse is applied in equal measure to each of the disciplines – architecture, interior and design to create highly resolved buildings, spaces and objects beautifully balanced in form, function and detail. ANARCHITECT is one of the first Internationally RIBA Chartered practices outside of the UK while still remaining a boutique design driven office, further recognizing our consistent high quality of design and professionalism.