A city of stark, utilitarian, Soviet-style buildings constructed in a rush during the 1950s is probably the last place you would expect to find a striking example of modern, cutting-edge minimalist architecture.
But in an otherwise unremarkable suburban setting on the outskirts of Chişinău – the capital city of Moldova – is Line Architect’s The Piano House. It’s a sleek, single-story private house that comes close to epitomising minimalism at its finest.
Travelling out from the centre of Chişinău , the surroundings morph within a matter of minutes into the same monotony of characterless, low-rise homes found in suburbia the world over. The familiar sameness is suspended, at least momentarily, when you reach the Piano House, a pleasing-to-the-eye euphony of glass, wood and concrete that sits easily in its trapezoidal plot, bordered on three sides by more conventional homes. It’s a sleek, single-story, 264-square-metre family home with three bedrooms, an inner courtyard and outdoor swimming pool.
The front facade is subtle and signified, a car port that fits elegantly into the overall aesthetic. There’s no sense of it being an afterthought or add-on, as is all too often the case with car ports or other external aspects of the house. It’s flanked on two sides with reinforced ferro-concrete walls, with a flat surface of wood and glass to the back – the three elements coming together to create not just an ideal shelter but also the perfect frame. The sleek lines and low profile give the front of the house an unassuming and modest appearance; this isn’t a house that could ever be accused of arrogance or ostentation.
The same sense of refined minimalism continues inside the house. The principle materials are, again, glass, concrete and wood, and the white floors give a sense of calm elegance and sophistication that runs from one space to the next. The lighting throughout is unobtrusive, and there’s a gentle harmony and flow that moves throughout the entire house. Every minor detail has clearly been thought out with care and exactness, and there’s nothing arbitrary or decorative for the point alone of decoration. There’s no element or feature that feels out of place or wrong. Rather, everything belongs, everything is where it should be and how it should be.
The design and construction of the Piano House is the work of local architect Dmitrii Petrov, the founder and main creative within LINE Architects. A committed and passionate minimalist, Petrov prioritises pureness and simplicity within his designs. The firm works with clients of all sorts, offering a full range of architectural and design services. And it oversees the entire process – from initial sketches to final construction – with the same care and exactness that it demands of every project. Its concepts might be simple, but they are unique, original and created with a respect and understanding for the uniqueness of each site. Unlike many other architects, LINE Architects commit to focusing on the creative process, not the commercial process.
There’s an odd and interesting conundrum between the Piano House and its environment, dominated as it is by Soviet-era brutalist architecture. In some respects, the two approaches couldn’t be more different, but, at the same time, they’re undeniably alike in their quest for efficiency and practicality. However, while the former pursues this to the detriment of all aesthetic considerations, the latter achieves it in way that raises the aesthetic to a supreme level.