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 2 (Basong)
As the second project in the brickwork series experimentation, Basong is a further interpretation of our intent towards regaining the persistent material in the vicinity. (refer Balau for comparison)
Basong was conceived as a monumental brickwork volume that breaks away the convention of a typographical modern Malaysian house. The scale and deliberate misalignment of windows on the front elevation detracts from the ordered glass curtain wall façade that flanks the side elevations.
The recurring theme here is an array of spaces and rooms, either physically or visually permeable amongst each other. Each of these spaces and rooms are oriented towards the garden and pool that forms a breathing space between the building and its surrounding mass.
Mid-way through the development of the design, we realized that the house was becoming ‘gestapo-like’ in its discipline towards a preset architectural grid.
We needed to humanize it…
All the while, we had envisioned that this site is an open area in entirety on plan. Thus the opportunity to utilize the rooftop as a public open space was seized and subsequently developed. To link all the spaces together, a continuous circulation loop from the lower garden that leads up to the first floor across the pool, subsequently would connect to the roof top garden via a suspended bridge that seemingly coils around the house. From the roof top garden, the user would be lead into the house from the study, leading downwards to the family area and thereafter down to the living spaces downstairs.
By chiseling, carving and hand-hewn the pre-conceived form, the circulation path becomes punctuated with prominent ‘white-block’ nodal points internally and externally, large and small. Coupled with the ability for the spaces to be experienced in a reversed sequence, we felt that the little ‘quirkiness’ added to the plot has humanized the building.
Definitely feels human to bastardize a perfectly formed face.