Celebrity Homes: Richard Meier English Countryside Minimalist Home – Atop a hill in Oxfordshire, England, Richard Meier conjures a minimalist masterpiece. As they have since the first Bentley took to the road, many Brits still motor into the countryside to weekend in great country houses.
But for guests of a family living in the rolling hills of Oxfordshire, the house at the end of a winding, hedge-lined lane is not a Downton Abbey pile or a rambling, thatch-covered cottage. What awaits instead is a bracing specimen of white geometric abstraction designed by American architect Richard Meier, so pristine inside that you can see a pin drop.
Just beyond the automated entry gate, visitors steer onto a sweeping drive that curves in a suspenseful tease around the base of a slowly rising meadow. Stretching across its crest, left to right, is a compound of white walls, low and high, set off against a bosk—sometimes it takes a straight horizontal line to call attention to the beauty of nature’s irregularities.
Master of the white villa, Meier drew his long horizontal line behind a two-story house by extending walls alongside a pool and tennis court toward a compact cubic guesthouse. The design brings the entire site to a focus that seems to fix the landscape, pinning it down like an elaborate brooch.
As striking as the result is, it was not inevitable that a Meier villa would find a home in this officially protected, quintessentially English landscape. Building plans had to go before a district council for approval. “People didn’t want a modern house,” Meier recalls. “Most of the committee looked at the project with a certain amount of skepticism, even though no neighbor can even see the house. But there was one woman who was very vocal and very pro.”
Meier’s clients needed no convincing. They had seen a show of his work in London, liked it, and hired him. Once they told him their requirements—five bedrooms, a two-bedroom guesthouse, plus a pool and a tennis court—they recused themselves from the design process.
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