Fabian Tan Architects received a brief from their clients in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to do something special with their pitched roof bungalow. The clients wanted a contemporary re-interpretation of the homes façade and interior to suit their modern lifestyle. When the architects first arrived on the site they where inspired by the luscious Umbrella Trees in the backyard and knew the renovation must include opening up the home to view these magnificent trees. After erasing interior walls to create an open concept lifestyle, they set about repositioning the zones, to maximize all the view potentials. The back façade was reconfigured into a U shape, allowing both the living and dining zones to be featured at the end of each “U”. The living room was transformed into a show stopping double volume drum complete with wrap around sliding glass doors that stack out of the way opening up the space to the outdoors.
When all the doors are stacked into the back section of the living zone, the room transforms into a covered outdoor deck. Steel posts support the overhead roof allowing for an uninterrupted view of the beautiful Banana Trees. During the summer months the trees offer plenty of shade to the yard and the home itself.
The design of the drum living room is a modern piece of functional sculpture. The two steel posts enhance the symmetry of design, as do the geometric repetition of the glass encased louvers within the curved door panels, and the mirror image of the floor and roofline.
At night the glow of the interior lights spills forth from the louvers creating a geometric pattern on fanning shadows. The simplicity of the rest of the home’s façade lets the drum literally shine.
When day arrives and its time to open the doors, manpower is all it takes. Simply pushing against the glass door will move it along its tracks to stack with the next one.
Each side has 3 panels that stack into the back wall.
Once one side has been stacked, it’s a simple matter of moving to the other side.
With all 6 doors stacked, the living room transforms into a light and bright outdoor space complete with comfy leather couches and modern accent furniture.
With the wall opened up, the backyard is just a step away. Wrapped in cinder blocks that have been painted white, the space feels light, bright and fresh. The pop of red on the accent chair is just the right amount of colour contrast needed to bring in the modernist vibe.
Although the ceiling of the living room doesn’t offer any natural light, the 4 suspended light systems create a flood of contemporary light that reflect and refract off of the glass doors stacked behind.
,Across from the living room on the other end of the “U” shaped floor plan, is the dining room. Large and spacious the over sized dining table can easily seat 10. With windows on two sides, both offering sliding doors to the yard, this room is almost as connected to the outdoors as the double volume living room – almost, but not quite. A concrete privacy wall closes off the views to the neighbours.
The dining area is clean and simple in aesthetic, keeping the focus on the views and the dinners. A simple chandelier is suspended modestly over the splayed leg dining table for hints at mid century design.
The outdoor artwork that has been selected for the dining room is the view of the sculptural living space just a few feet away.
And just a few more feet, around the corner from the double volume drum, is the entry. The walkway up to the home is as sculptural as the drum shape. Here, though, the art is a creation of vertical and horizontal concrete planes with rectangular punctuations of down lighting.
Just inside the foyer is a long bench seat – perfect for removing or putting on shoes. A pony wall that creates a zone just for the tree below the sky dome backs the bench. The simplicity of this arrangement is achieved through a complex schematic of organic verses man made; light verses dark, and curvaceous verses linear.
The foyer leads to the living drum and just beyond that is the stairwell that leads to the upper volume. White walls and floors and warmed up with the wood tones of the entry door, stair treads, and cinnamon tones to the leather couches in the living drum. Around the corner from the stairs is a family room and the stairwell wall is the perfect mounting spot for the TV.
The family room and kitchen are bathed in white. The large and spacious volume is a testament to modernist living. A large pantry and storage wall is hidden behind highly polished white cabinet doors while the island features a pedestal base that hides the plumbing for its sink. 3 simple chrome and wood barstools are pulled up to the white bar for an unassuming statement while a black framed pocket door breaks up the all white scheme with its bold black framwork. The pocket door leads to the kitchen itself. Beside the kitchen and on the other side of the bar is a niche that frames a small tree . the potted tree adds in the organic touch.
Upstairs, the white on white scheme continues, even the light suspended over the stairwell is a white globe and the tempered glass railing at the top of the stairway offers no colour at all.
While void of colour, the upper volume of the home is as interesting as the lower. This is achieved with interesting wall cut outs and window placements. The negative spaces created by these wall voids create a play on space and shape that is exacerbated by the shadows they create. These shadows are further enhanced by the white itself.
The double volume living room also adds visual interest to the upstairs.
The floor plan of the home is a continuous merging of zones -each separate and connected at the same time. Views are kept to the social spaces while the bedrooms, office, and bathrooms are carefully tucked into the back zones of the lower volume. The white palette was intentionally used to allow natural light to flood through the space, reflecting off of the surfaces to continue into the furthest corners.
The bedrooms upstairs retained their locations, extending outward via the use of bump outs to make the rooms larger. Downstairs the double volume living room is wrapped in glass doors comprised of windows that open. The exterior cladding of louvers allow for a cool breeze to flow through the room when the doors are closed and the windows are open. Closed, the louvers provide a shade screen on those extra hot days.
When the drum wall is closed during the day, the geometrically graphic effect is amazing. Even the circular floor track adds to the overall geometry of the space.
When the drum wall is closed and the windows are open, an interesting play on perspective is created.
As stunning as the curved doors are from the inside, the outdoor view of them is that much more. Its hard to believe this modernist home started out as a pre-existing pitched roof bungalow.
Fabian Tan Architect
Photography by Eiffel Chong