Rooms with an oooh | FinancialTimes
“I so want to see the Arno,” Lucy Honeychurch insists as she faces the gloomy sight from her Florence guesthouse at EM Forster’s. A room with a view. The prospect of stunning views – so often a sales sweetener in glossy real estate brochures – wasn’t always as prized as it is today. The upcoming exhibition Cropped: The woman at the window at the Dulwich Picture Gallery in London, from May 4 to September 4, documents the often strained relationship between home and what lies beyond.
“In the ancient world, the practice of looking out of windows was debated in relation to decorum, morality, and religious beliefs,” says exhibit curator, art historian Dr Jennifer Sliwka. . “It was only under the Romans that the view from the window became the sign of a family’s power over its estates and over nature. The Romans introduced the idea of ”prospectus” and passed laws preventing new houses from obstructing the views of existing houses. »
For the medieval baron, whose castle was both a home and a fortification, mastery of whatever he surveyed was essential to survival. Examples that still exist today now boast the privilege of overlooking vast acreages: take the 25-bedroom castello in Florence, Tuscany, on sale for 20 million euros through Romolini Immobiliare, a subsidiary of Christie’s International Real Estate, which overlooks 90 hectares of vineyards and olive groves. trees, with its own panoramic tower framing views over the Chianti hills.
The rapid development of cities that accompanied industrialization meant that homeowners became as concerned about who was watching as what they were watching. “There was a growing concern about ‘breach’ – who was allowed to watch what and who could pay for the privilege,” says Sliwka. “It’s something we’ve seen recently in the case of landlords of flats near Tate Modern who took legal action because visitors to its viewing platform were looking out their windows.”
Today’s wealthiest urban buyers undoubtedly believe that an elevated view confers prestige – an idea that has become central to what is known as ‘elite place-making’ in real estate. . Notable examples include the 72-storey residential The Shard in London; the 71 levels offering homes at Sydney’s Crown Residences at One Barangaroo (where the penthouse is on sale for A$100m – around £54.85m – with Knight Frank); the Burj Khalifa of more than 160 floors which breaks all records in Dubai; or the chain of super-towers that dominate midtown Manhattan.
New York’s Brooklyn Tower will launch sales this spring. A 93-story skyscraper, it will not only give the borough of Brooklyn its first “super tall” skyscraper, but will offer a new perspective on the city. “The residential part of the building starts on the 53rd floor,” says Georgina Atkinson, associate partner at Knight Frank which, in association with Douglas Elliman, markets apartments starting at $875,000. “Each homeowner will be able to see the Manhattan skyline, the East River and the Statue of Liberty.” The development also has the added benefit of residing close to the DeKalb Avenue subway station, 10 minutes from downtown.
In most cities, the highest premium will be earned for specific views from specific locations: whether it’s New York’s Central Park from its eastern and southern fringes; the Eiffel Tower from the 7th arrondissement of Paris; or London’s Thames from an SW postcode (like 9 Millbank, where Heritage Collection penthouses are on sale from £18m).
The pandemic has only added to the value we place on this “perspective,” and even the most urban shoppers now prefer an expensive view of greenery or water. Living close to a park – but more importantly having a view of it – undoubtedly drives up the price, and recent research by Knight Frank shows that if a property adjacent to a park is worth 18% more than equivalent houses further away, a park with a view – semi-detached or not – averages 34% in the five cities (London, New York, Singapore, Hong Kong and Sydney).
Proximity to a well-kept park, an elegantly balustraded garden square or a carefully planted flowerbed has long been considered a positive attribute, but it was not until the advent of Romanticism that painters such as that Constable and Turner have convinced us to value uncultivated nature. Today, that consensus is of course widespread, but while Georgians admired the great outdoors for their power to convey moral truth, our enthusiasm is underpinned by the belief that living close to nature improves our well-being.
The hospitality industry, so often a model for residential trends, has taken it up with the concept of landscaped hotels immersed in nature. “A landscape hotel is about eliminating all distractions and focusing on the view,” says Nolan McHugh, co-creator of Piaule Catskill, a landscape hotel that opened last summer in New York state. Here, a handful of elevated cabins with floor-to-ceiling glass walls encourage outward gaze over the peaks and treetops, while activities include forest bathing, hiking, or a dip in the pool. salt water.
Piaule Catskill’s urban escape clientele is also a focus for developer David McAdam, whose company Homestead Modern has created similar cabins in Joshua Tree National Park. McAdam’s experience selling prefabricated steel structures encouraged him to believe that the inhospitable rocks of the desert provided an ideal environment for creating what he calls a “lone planet experience.”
“You feel like you’re on the moon when in fact you’re only a two-hour drive from Los Angeles,” he says. “We offer homes carefully positioned around protected trees to ensure each home offers the maximum seclusion, making five acres feel like 500 through clever screening.” Buyers can work with Homestead Modern to build their own home, and the price (starting at $750,000) makes it a good option for weekend communion. An advantage – or a disadvantage, depending on your point of view – is that landlords must agree to share their point of view, putting their property in Homestead Modern’s rental pool. “However, we don’t place a limit on the number of days an owner can use,” says McAdam.
Sea views are popular, but they can prove problematic. “Opening the shutters in the morning to see an ocean scene raises the price by 15-30% pretty immediately,” says Edward de Mallet Morgan, partner at Knight Frank on the super-premium sales team. “But buying a view can be seriously impacted by a busy road past it or a public footpath that has to be crossed to get to the beach.”
Countries where there are government-protected historic sites offer some assurance that an unspoiled view is unlikely to change. “Anything newly built in Israel has to take into account existing landmarks,” says Aby Rosen, co-founder and director of RFR Holding LLC, responsible for converting a 19th-century French hospital in Tel Aviv to The Jaffa Hotel & Residences. , designed by John Pawson and Rami Gil. The penthouse here ($65 million) not only has a striking interior, but also boasts 360-degree views of the Mediterranean and the ancient port.
It’s a similar case with some of the most valuable parks in the world. “One of the reasons for the super tall towers in New York is that in specific places near Central Park, something much taller is unlikely to be built and block your view,” says Michael Golden, co- CEO of Christie’s International Real. Domain. Hence the price of the penthouse at 432 Park Avenue, which went on sale last year for $169 million.
In the countryside, securing bail can be even more difficult, and it can be money well spent employing a buying agent. “We provide our clients with a report on everything from planned landfills to new wind farms – things that won’t necessarily come up when looking for a lawyer,” concludes Charlie Ellingworth, founder of property search agent Property Vision. As the Romans discovered over 2,000 years ago, there’s nothing worse than someone or something unexpected getting in the way of your flyer.