The house is built for a client and his extended family who seeks a communal way of living, but cherishes privacy and security. The family entertains frequently and needed the house to be generous when hosting huge parties and cozy for smaller affairs. Moving from Singapore to Malaysia, the family were excited with the prospect of living off on an immensely large plot of land in the open countryside while deeply paranoid about safety.
Confronted with the clients concerns, Formwerkz Architects were drawn to create a single storey compound. Geoffrey Bawa’s house on 33rd Lane in Colombo and the House of the Faun in Pompeii (2nd century AC) were references that were instrumental in the formulation of the plan in early stages.
From the street, the house looks understated, almost flat, revealing little of the interior except for the faceted, sloping timber ceiling that hangs within. The 5m tall walls fortifies the interior and encapsulate the roofs that slopes inwards to the courtyards. Within the compound, the main bulk of the house, where communal living and entertaining occurs, is compacted over a third of the plot size, freeing up a vast expanse of space for a back garden, pool and an annex block which houses the immediate family’s quarters.
The main space is spatially delineated into 9 sub-grids, punctuated with a series of courtyards. The courtyards were essential for the otherwise deep plan to work, as they bring natural daylight and ventilation to every part of the house. Each courtyard is unique, differentiated by the varied sizes and placement within its respective sub-zones. Each has a different garden that responds to the differing openness to sky and the way rain gathers and free fall into the courtyards from the varying roof slopes which are geometrically determined by the courtyards’ placement and dimension.
The living spaces are clustered, organically arranged and rearranged overtime, weaving freeing amongst the interspersed cloister. A dominant interior feature that characterise the different, inter-connected cloistered spaces is the multi-faceted, Merbau timber ceiling that slopes from the high ridges towards the courtyards. At nightfall, fragments of these undulations are revealed through a glass strip the façade, revealing the intricacy within.