Toh house was conceived through a figure ground planning exercise. When it was designed, the surrounding vicinity was totally empty, thus we had to envision the forthcoming neighbouring houses (it is actually quite easy to predict as everyone in Malaysia builds to the max and 3 storeys ).
The solution was driven by the need to create a ‘defensive’ front elevation, while the rear would open up into the main garden and activity spaces. Building scale was efficiently controlled to ensure that the house would contain all the basic requirements of 5+1 rooms, 2 kitchens, 2 livings etc within a build-up of 4600sqft. It was deliberately designed to avoid having the need for a third level in order to maintain the perfect vertical mass versus garden area ratio.
The spaces revolve around the main garden, positioned with direct view and access from all the common areas. It is designed as 2 separate main volumes, separated by a ‘transparent’ connection that allows physical and visual permeability between both volumes. The above ensures that the mass of the building does not overwhelm the open, outdoor spaces.
At the main building, the internal columns and main structure were placed and formed as a grid ordered lattice outside the building. The lattice allows the internal spaces to be column free and can be transformed into an outdoor patio by opening all the enclosures. At the same time, the lattice also manages to dematerialize the mass of the building, as if they were permanent scaffolds placed outside the building.