Dubbed the “Narrow House” because of its unusual width, this 1985 contemporary home sets itself apart from the many Colonials and Georgian-style houses found in the Foxhall Village neighborhood of Northwest Washington.
“I trained [as an architect] in Italy in Torino at the Politecnico di Torino,” Darvich said in an email. “Italy was the ultimate place to train because [of the] Italian aesthetic and [its] functional design is timeless.”
Distinguished homes for sale in the D.C. region
During his long career, Darvich, 89, has designed schools, car dealerships, monuments, television studios and houses.
“My interest is mostly in resistance by form,” Darvich said. “The one I am most proud of is the Farahabad Stadium [now known as Takhti Stadium in Tehran] that has a structure consisting of cables and pillars with a suspended roof that is still the largest span cable roof in the world, spanning 250 meters.”
Darvich came to Washington to design car dealerships for Darcars in the mid-1980s. It was then that he designed the Narrow House for himself and his family. When searching for a place to build, he discovered a one-bedroom, one-bathroom house on a skinny lot.
“At that time, the price of the lot was convenient, and the house is across from P Street, so there are no houses directly in front of the lot, so it allows for better views from the street and to the house,” Darvich said. “The biggest challenge was convincing the board of zoning to allow me to remodel and add on [to] a lot that was shorter than the zoning regulations [allowed]. I was able to accomplish that with the shape of the house.”
Darvich said that, because zoning regulations required a wall from the original house be kept, he incorporated it into his design. Part of a red-painted wall can be seen on the side of the house.
The structural integrity of the house is enhanced by what Darvich calls a “balloon system” — where the outside wall studs that span the three floors of the house are one piece. He also installed six steel beams that cross to form three X’s — two of which are hidden in the walls, one of which is visible. They reduce vibrations and add stability. The visible X, which is painted red, is as much a sculptural piece of art as it is a practical necessity.
“The structural design of the house prevents any vibration, even in high-wind situations or earthquakes,” Darvich said.
A cherry-red door greets visitors to the house. Darvich designed the doors in the home.
“The doors are influenced by my sculpture background,” he said.
Gray granite floors and stark-white walls in the foyer create a dramatic entrance. The walls and ceilings are a geometric delight, with curves, bows and angles. The curves in the stairs that lead to the upper levels are offset by the sharp right angles that jut from the handrail and underneath.
The living and dining rooms are filled with arches in what appears to be a nod to Moorish architecture.
“I wanted to keep a classical vaulted ceiling set in a modern environment,” Darvich said. “The vaulted ceilings and arches of the dining room and living room are my favorite elements, because I built them myself by hand.”
The kitchen has an exaggerated tray ceiling, Poggenpohl cabinetry, a tile floor, a Gaggenau double oven, a double-door refrigerator, a grill and a cooktop. The breakfast nook offers seating for casual dining.
Darvich spent the most 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 three-bedroom, five-bathroom, 3,600-square-foot house is listed at $2,999,000.
- Bedrooms/bathrooms: 3/5
- Approximate square-footage: 3,600
- Lot size: 0.12 acre
- Features: The 1985 house was designed by Iranian-born architect Djahanguir Darvich. The house is 18 feet wide and three stories high. Six steel beams that cross to form three X’s were installed to enhance the structural stability of the house. The one that was left visible was painted red, creating a sculptural piece of art. Besides the attached one-car garage, there is parking for three additional cars.
- Listing agent: Fruwah Chapman, PenFed Realty
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