I’m in the home of Nicolás Cunto in Buenos Aires. He is an architect and he also owns a business, where he sells bags and accessories of his own design.
As an independent architect, he carefully chooses the projects he engages in using two criteria. Projects that he likes, or projects that involve people that he likes. He undertakes about two a year, mainly because his business takes up most of the working hours.
“Working as an architect I like to work with people who have a dream. And then I can dream with them,” he says.
His home is in Palermo Viejo, a more quiet and residential area than the livelier Palermo SoHo or Hollywood. It’s less developed, as the building regulations stipulate low-rise buildings of no more than twelve meters height. The architectural style of his house is called PH, Propiedad horizontal, a variation of the Casa Choritzo, typical for Buenos Aires, where the majority of the building plots are long and narrow. The individual units and rooms in these buildings are lined up in a straight row, long and thin as a Chorizo sausage, each reached from a long and narrow, roofless corridor leading from the front door.
These two-storey dwellings are neither apartments nor houses, but something in between, and quite unique for this part of the world. They each have individual patios, providing fresh air and ventilation. The street-side unit of the PH houses has its own exterior door and the two units behind it, have a shared exterior entrance.
Stepping inside his home I’m in a small courtyard that is now a room, since his patio is glazed over with a greenhouse roof. It’s a bright space with a fantastic ceiling height. Huge potted plants, a banana tree and a Ficus, are high up on a ledge. The sunlight slants through a grid made of bamboo, giving much needed shade. Two ceiling fans are rotating slowly, circulating the air that comes in from the front door, an open window to the passage and the open door of a roof terrace. Leading off this downstairs patio-room is a small kitchen and a living room. Up one flight of stairs and on a small landing is a bathroom and another flight up is a bedroom and an open roof-terrace that has a large collection of plants.
“I like to be at home, to cook and to take care of the plants,” he tells me. “I enjoy being alone. And I relish silence. There is a famous saying in Italy: ‘Il dolce con niente’. It means ‘The sweetness of doing nothing’. Our culture now is very fast-paced and stressful. It’s all about producing, delivering and being efficient. So I like to indulge in the sweetness of doing nothing as often as I can.”
“Silence is very important for me and it was an important factor when I was searching for a place here in Buenos Aires”, he says. And his home is really extremely quiet. There isn’t a hint of the bustling city outside populated by the 2,9 million inhabitants called Porteños.
“This house is like an island,” he continues. “We could be anywhere, in a remote village or in the countryside. But step outside and the city is there with everything a big city can offer. So it’s like having the best of two worlds.”
“My home is the most important place on earth. A home is a place that you make into a home,” he emphasizes. “For me the most important things in the home are the living things. Paco, Emma, the plants and me. That energy is what makes it a home.”
This is an excerpt from the book Home Life Around the World and is one of the unique and personal homes I visited.
Release date 15th May.
Home Life Around the World is available for pre-order in iBooks store, Kobo and Google Play. ISBN 978-91-984455-1-0
The book is also available for pre-order in the Kindle format. ASIN: B079VDPBVF
Print edition ISBN 978-91-984455-0-3
Copyright and photo: Anita Martinez Beijer