Elevated status

A sweeping double facade on this contemporary residence calls to mind the aesthetics and advantages of traditional Malaysian-style homes

Legend Plan for the house area, diagram, floor plan, plan, product design, white
Legend Plan for the house

When looking to create comfortable, contemporary residences it pays to keep a careful eye on the past. A thoroughly modern home can still make good use of traditional architectural features that have been tried and tested in the same climate for hundreds of years.

This residence, by architect Kun Lim, uses two design elements more often associated with classic Malaysian kampong village homes. First, a double facade provides sun shelter for the interior from shutters positioned on the glassless outer face much like the covered and fringed verandas of local village houses. Second, the home is partially set on stilts another kampong-house feature with a swimming pool tucked partly underneath. This introduces cross ventilation beneath the residence, an age-old form of air conditioning.

The stilts and outer facade were also design responses to a constricted site, says Lim.

"The house could only extend to within six metres of the edge of the property due to council constraints, but the outer facade allowed us to increase the apparent size of the house without breaking any bylaws," he says. "Similarly, space constraints meant the only place to easily locate the pool was partly under the house, which was another reason to raise the building on stilts. This has the added advantage of allowing breezes to blow across the surface of the cold pool water before flowing into the home's interior."

The design of the house is also a response to space allocation in other ways. In the spirit of sustainable development, the sloping corner site was embraced rather than excavated, which kept the need for earth cutting to a minimum. Essentially the house is dug into the hill on one side and supported by stilts on the other, enabling the architect to create vast uninterrupted open-plan living spaces.

A view of the formal double height foyer, architecture, countertop, daylighting, glass, interior design, kitchen, window, gray
A view of the formal double height foyer, tiled flooring, multilevel stair case, glass and stainless steel balustrading

Lim says that from the outside, the eight-bedroom home is intentionally difficult to read. One could be forgiven for guessing the wrong number of floors in the home, depending on which angle it is viewed from. The second skin and the breakdown of the design into various wings and terraces all have functional applications but also create visual rhythms and interest that break up the impact of the massive curving facade. The plethora of openings and terraces is another feature often associated with traditional Malaysian homes.

Another cultural tradition on a more human level is addressed in this home. The concept of extended families is as ancient as the architecture of a kampong house, and this is literally built into the design.

"One of the client's main requests was for a home that could comfortably accommodate his extended family," says Lim. "Private spaces were required for different family groups, but the client also wanted to maximise communal space as well for example, he wanted the greater family to be able to enjoy meals together."

The interior layout creates degrees of separation and private family spaces. The owner lives in the right-hand wing of the home at ground floor level, which has its own private terrace; one of his sons and his family live in the left wing on the level above, while the second son's family occupies the other side of this top level.

As well as the private family areas, the design provides expanses of open-plan living areas at the heart of the home that are intended to be shared by all.

Exterior view of this house featuring a curved apartment, architecture, building, condominium, estate, hotel, leisure, leisure centre, property, real estate, resort, swimming pool, water, black, teal
Exterior view of this house featuring a curved street facade, stilt suport, balconies, aluminium joinery, pool

"We created a double-volume entrance rising up from the basement level through the heart of the expansive ground-floor open-plan living area," says Lim. "This creates a spectacular sense of arrival, heightened by a glass floor with fish swimming literally underfoot. The entry aids the circulation of air up through the interior and creates a physical, if not visual, demarcation between the living and dining areas on the next level up."

A visitor climbing the stairs from the pool-side entrance emerges in the public ground floor space. While the void ends at the ceiling on this level, the stairs climb on to the uppermost level of the home.

To provide a harmonious interior, the architect specified pale tones. The use of whitewashed walls, white columns, glass and stainless steel create a modern, unifying personality that extends right through the interior. The clean, neutral look complements the plaster finishes and stainless steel shutters found on the exterior of the home.

"Materials were chosen partly for utility or ease of upkeep, and partly for economic reasons," says Lim. "The most luxurious commodity in this upmarket residence is its cool, airy disposition and sheer volumes of uninterrupted space."

Credit list

Interior designer
Simplex Design
Kitchen design
Renou Furniture
Custom cherry veneer-ply door
Roller blinds from Sun Blind
RC Roof
Goldrich Stonework, solid timber stripe
Paints and varnishes
ICI Paint
Heating system
Audio Visual
Harmon Kavdon
Kitchen cabinetry
Renou Furniture
Sink, cooktop and ventilation
Rubine Italia
Bathroom vanity
Custom made in marble
Shower fittings, shower enclosure, bath taps
Bathroom flooring
Crystal from Tile for Living
Bathroom ventilation
Panasonic exhaust fan
Modern Pool
Main contractor
Sino Media
Kitchen manufacturer
Renou Furniture
Window and door hardware
Hunter Douglas
Niro Ceramic
Renou Furniture
Renou Furniture
L-G Hi-Macs solid surface top
Bath, basin, toilet and bidet
Johnson Suisse
Hot water systems
Wall finish
Niro Granite tiles
Bathroom lighting
Renou Furniture

Story by: Trendsideas

Photography by: KL Ng Elevated status A sweeping double facade on this contemporary residence calls to mind

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