Five leading architects have been tasked with creating a series of stunning homes in Great Taipei New Town as part of the Master Collection. As Jim Olson’s designs near completion, Tamsin Bradshaw speaks to him about his vision for these luxurious dwellings.
Pictured above is the Taiwan Villa, designed by Jim Olson for the Master Collection
Many of us dream of owning a home designed by the likes of Richard Meier or Jim Olson. For a lucky few, that dream will become a reality: independent private equity real estate firm Phoenix Property Investors is working with these two architects, as well as Steven Harris, Annabelle Selldorf and Calvin Tsao of Tsao & McKown on creating 28 private houses in Great Taipei New Town district.
The houses range in size from 6,372 square feet to 13,718 square feet, and there is much excitement around the vision of each of the five architects involved. These are, after all, some of the top names in design: Architectural Digest even featured them on its 2016 AD100 list of thought leaders and tastemakers, a clear stamp of international approval.
“I have great respect and admiration for the work of the other architects involved in the project,” says Jim Olson, Founding Partner of Olson Kundig Architects.
Based in Seattle, Olson Kundig is designing five houses for the Master Collection. The Taiwan Villa, the Lantern House, House of Reflection, Mountain House and Sky House are set for completion at the end of September 2016, while the remaining homes by Harris, Tsao, Selldorf and Meier will be part of the PREMIA development, due to complete in 2018.
“After meeting with Sam [Chu, Co-Founder of Phoenix Property Investors] and visiting the site, I was very excited about this amazing opportunity,” says Olson. “We were impressed with Sam’s vision to promote creative architecture and inspire other luxury property developers to set new benchmarks for quality house living.”
Olson Kundig is known for exploring the relationship between a home and the “landscape it inhabits”, as well as for designing homes for art collectors. These are factors that came into play with each of Olson’s designs for the Master Collection; the five homes are inspired by the lush, green surroundings of Great Taipei New Town. “The beauty and potential of the site made it an exciting opportunity to explore how it could be utilised using quality design,” says Olson.
The Taiwan House, for example, takes advantage of the natural beauty surrounding it from its vantage point on top of a mountain. It possesses 360-degree views of mountains and forests, and also of Taipei’s skyline, which is spectacular at night. “The living and dining rooms of this house were designed with a large pavilion that opens on all sides to the landscape,” says Olson.
For Olson, that connection with nature is key. “I see our environment as continuous and connected; everything affects everything else. Architecture should fit into its context and buildings should melt into the landscape as if they grew there. In this instance, I fit all the houses into this dramatic vertical topography, which gives them a distinctive character and draw – similar to that of an Italian hill town.”
Adds Olson, “I believe that architecture is subtle and acts as a vehicle to observe nature and art. Through it, I try to guide people to look at what is around them by framing particular views and vistas of art and nature. In this case, windows focus on spectacular vistas of beautiful hills and mountains that connect to the big landscape. Finally, I have connected the residences with nature through the use of intimate gardens with pools that create a personal connection to nature.”
Olson also designed these homes to house art collections: “Of course, there’s a growing number of art collectors in Asia and these houses are designed to display [their art],” he says.
With the homes set for completion in a matter of weeks, the next challenge, in Olson’s view, lies in where the homes’ owners take them. “My hope is that the people who move into these houses will furnish them in harmony with the architecture. I hope they will also appreciate the gardens and views as much as I do.”
Olson Kundig Architects
Phoenix Property Investors