Nepenthe House at Dunes of Costa Del Mar Estate is Complete

Sunday, February 26, 2012

A few months back Farris Fargis, a good friend of mine, approached me for building him a large house on his new island. I was honored that he thought of me though he had owned a copy of my Odaesan House and used it as his estate house for some time before packing it up and selling his island in 2010.

I accepted the project with some reservation as I find it more and more difficult to build large homes in SL, due to the fact that I think it's hard to make these large scale projects look real and/or sensible to the eye.

To some degree what I did with Odaesan House was in my mind a fluke, as in I got lucky back in 2006 when I built it. It somehow worked despite it's rambling size and the length of its front and rear facades.

This time Farris wanted something of a cross between the general style I build and the Hearst Castle. I started the project by first defining the outline of the landscape and topography as no one house can stand on its own without the land and setting it reciprocates. Once the island was better defined, it was time to "mass" the house into place. This is an exercise where I estimate the size, placement and volume of main living areas of the building using simple blocks. This allows me to get the sense of scale and helps me establish a balanced relationship with the setting I am working in -- namely the island.

After the massing stage, I started building small components of the house. At first I was a little stifled by all the freedom given to me by Farris as he pretty much had said, "oh do the fab job you always do, be creative, there are no boundaries". Any creative person that's worked on a big project knows that utmost freedom brings utmost pain as the project becomes a battle of wills with one's own creative side. On one hand you want to finish and hand over the project to the owner, on the other, your creative side wants to explore further and see if there's a better solution to the problem at hand.

As part of the house started to take shape, I rolled back the project at least once if not more times to remove some of the elements. My fear always was that due to the large size of the house, the building would look like a mosque or temple. I did not want to build a mausoleum, I wanted to build a house.

Finally in November and December the house started to move forward at a pretty steady pace and I worked about 1-2 hours a day on it slowly chipping at the problem from various angles. In late December and early January I completed the house and handed it to the owner -- furnished and decorated.

Farris wanted to use his own furniture as well as the furnishings I placed in the house. It was an interesting exercise in design as I had to let go off of having absolute control over everything. Nevertheless, we worked together seamlessly and got along great and I would like to think that the end result is to Farris' liking.

Below are some snapshots of the house. The house is open to the public for visiting but if you do visit please remember that this is someone else's house and be courteous please.

The SLURL for the house is: