Our contextual thoughts:
Back in early 2009, we were engaged to simultaneously design and execute five separate residences within the same area called Damansara Heights, Kuala Lumpur.
“Damansara Heights prides itself as one of the most exclusive neighborhoods in Malaysia. Starting as a residential scheme for government servants more than two decades ago, the address has evolved into a popular choice for high net-worth and the elite class. Besides this, almost all major financial institutions are represented in this limited commercial enclave which now hosts colleges, large multinational corporations, restaurants, regulatory bodies and government departments.” (source: Wikipedia)
The above description indirectly translates to the mutation of a consistent and humble housing estate into one that is infused with too much personalization and excess. A stroll down any of the streets currently feels like a visit to an architectural expo, with differing styles and scales, modernist vs regional works and sometimes even the odd existence of renaissance palaces appearing amidst the neighborhood.
and we thought, perhaps we can still find traces of memory from the original scheme, and by revisiting it we could somehow reintroduce a certain harmony and consistency to the neighborhood.
and hence we discovered the persistent appearance of the fair-faced brickwork amongst the old facades, the refuse chambers, gate posts and fences alike.
With the numerous projects we were to embark in the area, fair-faced brickwork as a common material would elevate its usage from mere decorations to actual envelopes, denoting volumes and to hopefully instigate its usage amongst other projects within the vicinity.
Brickwork Series I (Balau)
Balau was the first serious project in adhering to the above contextual intent. The site on which the house is located has a width of 18 meters but extremely deep at 48 meters length.
Thanks to the rectilinear shape, the site opens up an opportunity to create a series of parallel spaces running alongside each other from front to the back of the site. While doing so, the front remains unassuming and small by creating 2 distinct 5.5 meters grid spaces; represented by the fair-faced brickwork façade and smooth plaster-painted façade respectively.
The spaces are punctuated by an internal water body that registers to an existing matured tree, and an external courtyard towards the tail of the site. The fair-faced brickwork ceases to be mere textured walls from within the building, but instead takes on the role of a backdrop that contains organizes all the spaces and voids towards it.