It is 6.00am in the morning. The winding roads up the hills of Tanarimba, Janda Baik begin to emerge from the dark as the dawn breaks into an effervescent sky in hues of cool gray, orange and dusty pink. Moving in average speed, the verdant vistas switch from one scene to another — experiencing the change in nature through time, space and altitude. The distant hills morph in alternating shades and textures as the morning fog gives way to the radiating sun.
Traverse into the landscape and the views change again – the formation of canopy trees from birds’ eye view makes you feel like an observer of nature. And in this very setting, the stately House at Lot 518 mounts against the undulating tropical forest.
Flaunting its aerodynamic shape, the house was recently named the gold winner of the Malaysian Institute of Architect’s PAM Awards 2018 under the residential category.
Using nature as a point of inspiration, the architecture complements its natural surroundings without competing with the elements. “How can architecture coexist in the context of nature without destroying it?” asks Ar. Melvyn Joachim Kanny, founder of MJ Kanny Architect who has been heavily involved in this project since the start.
The ideation begins with looking at the layers of space akin to the idea of observing how nature works. To begin with, the house is erected on ‘stilts’ above the grounds (for obvious reasons) to not disrupt the site’s natural terrain.
“This house was designed to perch on the land by placing it on stilts to minimise earthworks and retaining walls as well as to preserve the existing steep slope and trees on the land as much as possible,” explains Melvyn.
The layout of the house flows organically – creating great spatial quality – through the way the building expands in the 1-acre piece of land. The elevation also helps to accentuate the airiness and lightness of the house, allowing it to feel like it is part of the rainforest.
Walking into the house is an experience on its own. Staying true to its minimalist and raw concept, concrete renders, brickworks and wood dominate the interior spaces. Furniture choices are simple and sleek, allowing the architectural features to stand out beautifully. And because of the natural undulation of the land, each room is angled proportionately to the way the building curves.
Large windows are also employed to allow natural sunlight to brighten up the indoor rooms. However, the challenge faced by the architects was to ensure minimum solar gain and glare into the house during the day. This has been achieved by relooking into the roof overhangs especially at the western and eastern part of the house where the sun rises and sets. The sunshade studies have helped with maintaining a cool temperature internally throughout the day.
The brief of having 5 bedrooms, living halls and dining spaces that overlook the spectacular views of Janda Baik is met with little constraints. The design team explores this possibility by creating spaces that do not seem constant and appear to change as you meander into the structure. Views are captured from different spaces to enhance the idea of movement. No one room in the house is the same, and at varied angles, the scenes are juxtaposed in its own unique way.
House at Lot 518 is a reflection of how one lives unassumingly with nature, respects it and makes the most out of the surrounding while enjoying the natural law of constant change. Swipe left to marvel at this year’s most beautiful house in Malaysia.
Photography credit: Lawrence Choo
The air tower doubles as space for an elevator; something the homeowners have considered for their future investment.
Dark sheer curtains add the right amount of privacy while ensuring uninterrupted panoramic views of the surrounding.
A way to make a statement; the ombre turquoise painting lends just the right amount of theatrics in the double-volume living hall.
Skylight adds a dramatic yet airy touch to an otherwise stuffy and enclosed bathroom. Here, the sunlight gives a delightful calmness in the private space.