Over the course of our rich and diverse history, the world has witnessed the rise of a great number of beautiful mansions and ground-breaking palaces. Today, those structures have become some of the world’s most iconic and admired manmade marvels, exuding culture and reflecting our architectural wealth in every element.
To name a few, we can mention the world-famous Dolmabahce Palace in Istanbul, the Palace of Versailles in France, the mesmerising Alhambra Palace in Spain, or even the fascinating Peterhof Palace in Saint Petersburg. The list includes some of the world’s most enthralling wonders with architectural styles and movements that span centuries and draw inspiration from the four corners of the planet.
For those of us in the construction and architecture fields, palaces and mansions have always been an interesting part of our journey. Their grandeur, infinite detailing, fascinating shapes and wealth of styles, movements and lines have always guided and inspired us to design, create and build new spaces.
We continue to draw influence from the past while integrating the technology, security and styles of the present.
The amount of work, labour and thought that goes into building a royal palace cannot be summed up that easily.
It is a long and meticulous process that must be evaluated and perfected at each and every step.
Having successfully designed over 60 palaces and mansions in the region, this article puts forward a few tips to guide you along the way.
The art of building a palace requires a lot more than designing the architecture of the structure. Although it plays a huge part, it all starts with the resident and understanding their culture, background and lifestyle.
The architect must truly understand what the palace’s inhabitants are looking for and what their interests are. Once a relationship is established with the client, in my experience, the architect will feel more at ease and the home owner will find it easier to allow them to enter their private world and trust them with their vision and their needs.
In areas such as the UAE and the Gulf region, for example, it is important to take into account the heritage which calls for the use of a Majlis that separates men from women.
There are also matters such as the segregation of visitor and resident circulations, or the positioning of the servant quarters and service zones and circulations which are often very critical to the planning process.
Cultural nuances also take into account how the palace will be used during special occasions and ceremonies such as religious celebrations, marriages and funerals.
While some people already have a very specific vision for their royal palace at the onset of a project, typically from their travels around the world, their friend’s home and/or lately Pinterest, others need time and research to decide which styles and movements they wish to draw inspiration from.
When designing royal palaces, my ethos is to always look to the past. After all, I believe that the long and fruitful architectural history that has lead us to where we are continues to shape our vision for the present.
But, I also believe that we have reached a day and age when our cultural and architectural exchange has driven us to become more daring than ever before.
We continue to blend art movements and use different currents and universes to create designs and build palaces that surpass expectations and add to the extraordinary landscape we continue to populate.
When designing the layout and creating the master plan of the grounds, the lead architect and their team of experts must take the following elements into account:
This is not a comprehensive list however designing the inner layout, must coincide with planning the shape, style and details of the outer layers - no thought should be spared and no detail ignored. It is worth noting that quite often the design’s ‘wow’ factor lies in the main entrance of the palace as it’s the focal point and serves as the introduction to the architectural symphony that follows.
The Landscape in and around the grounds is just as important as the design of the palace itself.
The layout and greenery must serve and complement the architectural intervention on the land, echoing the identity of the structure they surround while respecting the location’s natural wealth and cultural heritage.
The materials and flora used for the palace gardens must add to the luxury, beauty, grandeur and breathability of the structure itself.
Elements such as the correct use of species, the lighting of the grounds, the colour schemes selected and implemented, and the general atmosphere created will serve to enhance the mansion’s beauty and highlight its presence.
While it is true that the worth of a mansion is defined by its aesthetic value, it is very important to remember that palaces and mansions, no matter how important, big, or private they are, will be inhabited by people who will be looking for a comfortable home.
Every aspect and element within the design and structure of the regal palace must serve that goal, in order to offer any and all future residents the luxurious and grand experience associated with living in a royal palace.
It is important to bear in mind that projects like these typically take longer to complete than other residential projects, and the work of architects, engineers, designers, contractors, consultants, supervisors and the entire project team goes a long, long way and cannot be summed up in a few words.
The most important thing I can recommend is to always put the integrity of the project above all, and to continue to design and build projects that inspire and leave a positive impact.