“It was raining [as an architect] in Italy in Turin at the Politechnico di Torino,” Darvitch said in an email. “Italy was the perfect place to train because [of the] Italian aesthetics and [its] Functional design is timeless.”
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During his long career, Darvich, 89, has designed schools, car dealerships, monuments, television studios and homes.
“My interest is mainly resistance in form,” Darvitch said. “What I am most proud of is the Farahabad Stadium [now known as Takhti Stadium in Tehran] which has a structure made up of cables and pylons with a suspended ceiling that is still the world’s longest cable-spanned ceiling, spanning 250 meters.”
Darvitch came to Washington to design car dealerships for Darcars in the mid-1980s. That’s when he designed the Narrow House for himself and his family. When he was looking for a place to build, he discovered a one-bedroom, one-bathroom house on a skinny lot.
“At the time, the lot price was convenient, and the house is across P Street, so there are no houses right in front of the lot, so it allows for better views from the street and toward the house,” Darvich said. “The biggest challenge was getting the zoning board to allow me to remodel and add [to] much that was shorter than the zoning regulations [allowed]. I was able to achieve this with the shape of the house.”
Darvitch said that because zoning regulations required that a wall be retained from the original house, he incorporated it into his design. On the side of the house, part of a wall painted in red can be seen.
The home’s structural integrity is enhanced by what Darvitch calls a “balloon system”—where the exterior wall studs that span the home’s three stories are one piece. He also installed six steel beams that intersect to form three X’s – two of which are hidden in the walls, one of which is visible. They reduce vibration and add stability. The visible X, which is painted red, is both a sculptural work of art and a practical necessity.
“The structural design of the house prevents any vibrations even in high wind or earthquake situations,” Darvich said.
A red cherry door welcomes visitors to the home. Darvitch designed the doors to the house.
“The doors are influenced by my background in sculpture,” he said.
Gray granite floors and white walls in the foyer create a dramatic entry. The walls and ceilings are a geometric delight with curves, arcs and angles. The curves in the stairs leading to the upper levels are offset by the sharp right angles that protrude from the handrail and below.
The living room and dining room are filled with arches in what appears to be a nod to Moorish architecture.
“I wanted to keep a classic vaulted ceiling in a modern setting,” Darvich said. “The vaulted ceilings and arches in the dining room and living room are my favorite elements because I made them myself by hand.”
The kitchen has an oversized tray ceiling, Poggenphol cabinets, tile flooring, Gaggenau double oven, double door refrigerator, grill and cooktop. The breakfast nook offers seating for casual dining.
Darvitch spent most of his time in the sunroom at the back of the house, which has 12-foot ceilings and floor-to-ceiling glass on three sides. He used it as his office.
“I like the view of nature,” he said.
The 3,600-square-foot, three-bedroom, five-bathroom home is listed for $2,999,000.
1452 Foxhall Rd. NW, Washington, DC
- Bedrooms/Bathrooms: 3/5
- Approximate Square Meters: 3,600
- Batch Size: 0.12 str
- Characteristics: The 1985 house was designed by Iranian-born architect Djahanguir Darvich. The house is 18 feet wide and three stories high. Six steel beams were installed that intersect to form three X’s to enhance the structural stability of the house. What remained visible was painted red, creating a sculptural work of art. In addition to the attached one-car garage, there is parking for three additional cars.
- Listing Agent: Fruwah Chapman, PenFed Realty