Friday, April 18, 2008

In the Pink

Okay, this is truly one of the weirdest things I've seen built in a long time, Julian Schnabel's Palazzo Chupi:

I guess it's not all that weird in and of itself, what's really bizarre is that it was built in New York; it's in the far West Village:

I suppose there's a certain appeal in its Exoticism, and I can't say I'd easily turn down one of those huge balconies/terraces, but I'll also always be a huge proponent of contextual appropriateness, of which this building has absolutely none.

Now, obviously, my own interest is in all the Arts, across the board.  Having said that, I'm still tempted to wonder if someone more focused on Architecture, alone--not just dabbling in every discipline he can get his grubby fingers into like Schnabel--would've been able to apply an Indian aesthetic in a way that was more cohesive with the surrounding city.  In other words, interpret it in a way that it makes more visual sense in the West Village, rather than looking an organized mess.

The interiors (images courtesy of have even more problems.

Don't get me wrong, I love the clean, sparse detailing in sort of ancient, rustic materials.  I'm also very into the ginormous fireplace (another thing I'd love to have, in addition to the terrace).  I've always loved the fireplace in the Great Hall of Charles Foster Kane's house; you could literally walk into it.  But it struck me when I included the sensation produced by the bathroom:

Now, summer's coming, and let me tell you, I've always imagined how glorious it would be to take a nice long bath on a warm, breezy summer Sunday afternoon with the French doors wide open to a balcony (minus a huge apartment building directly across the street, obviously).  Even more wonderful if that were a giant hot tub.

However, the aesthetic he's drawing from has developed over many centuries specifically for a ridiculously hot, humid climate.  Just imagine those interiors on a dark, wintry night in New York with freezing rain beating against the windows.  Of course your apartment wouldn't be physically cold, and the fire could be blazing away.  The point is, the rooms just seem cold. 

And what the hell is going on with this kitchen?

UGH.  As I already said, I get the idea of clean, modern forms executed in sort of rustic materials, but this is awful.  It looks like the kitchen in somebody's run down 1970s-era summer cabin by a lake somewhere...and not in a good way.  There were so many different ways to make this opulent without being flashy about it, clean but on the same par with the rest of the apartment and justify the multimillion-dollar price tag.  Schnabel missed them all.

Along similar lines, I'm really disturbed by the half-assed detailing on the windows:

You can see this in the living room image, too.  That window molding is nothing more than a ridiculous gimmick.  As much as you're no doubt going to pay for this behemoth, there is absolutely no excuse for awkwardly stuffing a paned window up under that scalloped arch like that.  These windows should be custom-made to follow the contours of the arch, or they shouldn't be there at all.  

The only other solution I'd be satisfied with is one solid pane of glass with no frames, to give the illusion of an open arch onto the terrace.  The whole pane of glass could very easily be a sliding door, hiding over inside the wall, so it actually could be an open arch in the summer.  I suspect like much of the architecture in those ancient and hotter parts of the world, traditionally they wouldn't have had glass windows anyway, except on the finer palaces of the last few centuries.

Listen, if you want to buy me one of these apartments as a gift, I encourage you whole-heartedly to do so, but there's no way I'd pay my own money for one, even if I had it.  Nonetheless, I do find the whole project extremely intriguing.

Palazzo Chupi, Julian Schnabel (2008)
West 11th Street

©2008, Ryan Witte

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