The brief is to design a private family home, located in Meru Valley Golf Resort, Ipoh, a place famous for its mountainous landscape and natural surroundings. The house was conceived as three elements, the main residence, the living space and the floating barn. They are inter-connected forming double height volume and landscape courtyards. It is built on a site that sits within a valley, with views of the Titiwangsa mountain range to the West and North West. The area benefitted from its surrounding forest reserves, giving the house a natural backdrop.
The initial concept design started back in the London, UK around 2009, by Architects Kenny Chong and Ho Choon Sin where they reside at the time. The design approach was to build the house with inter-connecting blocks, effectively carving outwith open courtyards within living, dining and family spaces, surrounded by outdoor gardens. Responding upon its tropical climate, the home rely upon these courtyards and pocket spaces providing shades and day lighting. The surrounding veranda is designed with a purposeful depth, forms the key shading from the hot sun, as well as the tropical rainstorm.
The ground floor is where all public spaces including a guest room and an AV room. The living area is a stand-alone pavilion, adjoining with a bamboo garden and a central courtyard, turning spaces inside out in a subtle manner. The light-filled grand dining hall with open skylights is controlled with automatic blackout blinds.It shares the double height atrium with the striking form of the elliptical stairs, which connects to the courtyard at one end with the open-plan kitchen beyond. The stunning wood-clad stairs connects the ground spacesto the upper floors of master suites and two additional bedrooms. With its ribbon-like balustrade, the staircase spirals up through the central double height volume of the house. The upper floors also consist of a family space, with an interesting play of level changes and volumes. Two loft bedrooms form the top of the level, discretely carved into the pitched of the floating barn roof.
Primary materials used were mostly locally made and fabricated. The used of standing seam metal roofing gives the barn the simplest roof profile. Large sliding glass doors and courtyards define the volumes and spaces while off-white rendered walls compliment the contrasting barn red. All bathrooms, bedrooms and living spaces have bespoke joinery and metal works, of which have been fully integrated into the overall architectural design.
The architects stress the use of passive sustainable design, in respond to the local tropical climate while exploiting its existing nature surroundings.Key passive design elements such as building orientation, plan layout, window design, insulation, thermal mass, shading and natural ventilation form the basis of the energy efficient design considerations. Reinforced concrete structure with steel portal frames makes up the skeletal of the house. The external envelope is primarily infilled with double cavity wall system. Although it is uncommon in Malaysia, double brick cavity wall is used for all external walls. The cavity wall helps to alleviate the excessive heat gain exposure as well as maintaining an indoor climate comfort.
There is an on-site rainwater harvesting system whereby rainwater is collected and stored in an underground concrete tank, keeping the water cooled below ground. Building orientation, prevailing wind directions and the tropical monsoon season patterns are all being considered. Wind catcher is used to cool the inside of the house, in combination with two strategically located courtyards, as an overall ventilation and heat movement strategy. Hot air is drawn upward due to temperature gradient, assisted by prevailing wind flowing pass the catcher, creating stack effect through volumetric play. Greater airflow is enhanced with cross ventilation louvers at various height levels.
Deep recessed verandas, balconies and vertical fins are part of other architectural elements of passive design. The verandas play a few roles in the design. It form a filtering element of the house from hot sun, as well as the tropical rainstorm. It also form the peripheral façade, providing a natural privacy buffer to the home itself.Family gets to appreciate their garden and enjoy outdoor living where possible.
The key design feature of the house is the ‘suspended barn house’ cladded in insulated standing seam metal roof over seamless glass wall. The floating barn cantilevers over the landscape, providing panoramic views from the full height windows. The simple, delineated roof lines is silhouetted against the sky at dusk.