Organic design captures nature's essence

Photography by: Courtesy of MJ Kanny Architect
The home grew organically in form as the architecture, building, cloud, cottage, estate, evening, facade, farmhouse, grass, hill station, home, house, landscape, natural landscape, property, real estate, residential area, rural area, sky, tree, teal, brown
The home grew organically in form as the roof accentuated the layering hills in the distance. The organic form of the plan was also interpreted through the building sections and elevations – each doing its part in celebrating the movement through nature and its surroundings.

Project by MJ Kanny Architect

From the architect:

The homeowners approached us to design two houses on a one acre piece of land each – lot 517 and Lot 518 – on the hills of Tanarimba, Jandabaik. They requested homes that suited the cooler climate of Jandabaik and that relied on natural resources as much as possible. For the purpose of this submission, Lot 518 is referred to.

The question that architects are often plagued with is how does one build structures in the context of nature without destroying it. How can a structure use nature as a point of inspiration or reference, how can the structure lend itself to its natural surroundings without competing with it?

On the superficial level we can use natural materials that blend with the environment like natural brick walls, off-form concrete and raw timber to create a context in which architecture and nature can be in harmony. But how can architecture go beyond just dictating the building form and materiality to co-exist with nature?


The owners requested homes that suited the cooler aerial photography, bird's-eye view, geological phenomenon, highland, hill, hill station, jungle, landscape, mount scenery, mountain, mountain village, mountainous landforms, rainforest, rural area, sky, vegetation, village, gray
The owners requested homes that suited the cooler climate of Jandabaik and that relied on natural resources as much as possible.

The drive up the winding roads of Jandabaik pointed the direction. The constant change of views as one moves through the landscape led to the idea that one’s experience of nature changes through time and space and elevation. 

The distant hills change in detail, colour and hue depending on the point of view while traversing the landscape and details start to change as the morning fog gives way to the sun penetrating the canopy of trees in the mid-afternoon. 

"What if the building becomes the observer of its surroundings much the same way as nature is observed from different vistas and layers of space? "

We decided to explore this possibility by creating spaces that do not seem constant, that appear to change as one moves through the structure. Views are captured form different spaces from differing angles to enhance the idea of movement through the natural surroundings. 

This then became the point of reference for the design and layout of the house with the effect of the building not having any right-angle spaces. It grew organically in form as the roof accentuated the layering hills in the distance. 

The organic form of the plan was also interpreted through the building sections and elevations – each doing its part in celebrating the movement through nature and its surroundings.

The house was designed to perch on the architecture, building, cottage, geological phenomenon, grass, home, house, land lot, property, real estate, residential area, roof, rural area, sky, tree, vacation, white, brown
The house was designed to perch on the land by placing it on stilts, thus minimising earthworks and retaining walls and preserving the existing steep slope and trees on the site as much as possible. 

The layout of the house was designed to meet the owners' brief of having 5 bedrooms, living spaces and dining spaces and to take advantage of the stunning views of the Genting peaks in the distance. 

The house was designed to perch on the land by placing it on stilts, thus minimising earthworks and retaining walls and preserving the existing steep slope and trees on the site as much as possible. 

A BBQ terrace was created at the bottom of the site, with a pavilion structure facing a man-made retention pond which also doubled as a rain-water harvesting tank by installing submersible pumps that circulate the rain water collected to the irrigation of the one acre site.

Apart from using natural raw materials as much architecture, balcony, building, facade, forest, green, hill station, home, house, landscape, property, real estate, residential area, sky, tree, vegetation, window, brown
Apart from using natural raw materials as much as possible, other sustainable design elements were subtly infused into the building.

Apart from using natural raw materials as much as possible, other sustainable design elements were subtly infused into the building. For example the client requested a lift shaft in which they could install a lift, if needed, when climbing up the stairs became difficult in the future. 

This led to the idea of using the temporary shaft to create a wind chimney that would help draw cool mountain breezes into the house. This gave rise to the home’s distinct appearance from front elevation.

High-level motorised windows were also provided to create natural air-movement within the house as it discharges the hot-air through the folds in the roof.

The living room combines a soaring ceiling with architecture, building, daylighting, floor, flooring, handrail, home, house, interior design, loft, property, real estate, residential area, room, stairs, wood, gray, white
The living room combines a soaring ceiling with sweeping views of the countryside.

The owners informed us that they never use the air-conditioners as there is sufficient movement of cool air throughout the house even on hot afternoons. 

The large amount of glazing required to capture the breathtaking views meant that sunshade studies needed to be done to ensure minimum solar gain and glare into the house during the day. This was achieved by accentuating the roof overhangs, especially at the western and eastern elevations. 

Natural bamboo found growing on the site was harvested and designed as bespoke light-poles for the garden. The owners have started planting durians, avocados, and many other fruit trees and organically grown spices for their own consumption.

It is hoped that the house is a reflection of how one lives with nature, respects it and make the most of it, while enjoying nature’s natural law of constant change.

May 14, 2019
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