In Kuala Lumpur, a 10,000 sq ft home with a panoramic view of the city skyline
Straight out of a film set, this glamorous home in the affluent neighbourhood of Bangsar was designed around the spectacular view and to cater to the lifestyle of the family of four.
Reminiscent of Julian Shulman’s iconic photograph of Pierre Koenig’s Stahl house built almost at the edge of a cliff with a spectacular view of Los Angeles beneath it, this house in Bangsar, shares the same modernist ethos and fortunate view except in this case it’s a view of Kuala Lumpur.
Its owners are a couple with two teenage children. The husband is Italian while the wife, Gin Poh, is Malaysian, and they had previously lived abroad but decided to settle in Malaysia around 12 years ago. They were looking to upgrade their home when they came across this bungalow on the higher aspect of Bangsar and despite its derelict state, were captivated by its view of KLCC.
After purchasing the property, the couple researched architects who had a track record of developing contemporary design homes that would fit Malaysia’s tropical climate and that could handle a complex site which had a very steep slope. They decided on award-winning firm, Design Collective Architects (DCA) because they had the right experience, design style and expertise that felt right for their situation.
When the owners met Chan Mun Inn, lead architect for this project, and his team, their brief started from the architectural feel they wanted to achieve. “We shared pictures of contemporary homes from Camps Bay in Cape Town and on the hills and by the sea in California where the common themes were maximising views, clean modern design and seamless outdoor-indoor living,” recalled Poh.
For Chan, the site or rather the view it offered was a lightbulb moment. While the team was trying to capture the site’s surroundings, the most exciting picture they took was through a small, high-level toilet window that captured a panoramic view of the Kuala Lumpur skyline, a view which wasn’t quite visible even from the living room floors.
“It was at this moment when we first saw what the project could be and how the old existing bungalow was preventing the owners from actually experiencing the full extent as to what the site could actually offer,” Chan explained.
With this in mind, the view from the site towards the city skyline became the anchor for the project. This guided the team on the layout and design development especially when the decision was made to demolish the existing house and build a structure that was long and narrow with living spaces lined up along the view side.
Poh further elaborates that DCA brought all the six specific points they had raised during the brief to fruition. Being first and foremost a family home, the owners wanted to make the home comfortable to live in but also ideal for entertaining friends and extended family. To this end, DCA separated the public entertainment spaces at the ground floor from the more private family areas on the top floor.
Another request was to maximise opportunities for outdoor-indoor living without succumbing to the heat and humidity. To fulfil this, DCA designed the house to maximise natural ventilation. They also adopted a number of technical solutions like low-emissivity glass, fully openable doors, high-volume low-speed (HVLS) fans and solar panels to manage more than 70 per cent of the energy needs. The result is a very liveable and cooling space with natural breezes.
The couple occasionally host their families during festive seasons and because of this, the architects built a guest house which is fully integrated in the building but with a separate entrance.
“With this feature, when family or friends come to visit and stay with us, they can have their own privacy but still can be together with us,” said Poh. The architects further designed common areas for the family to be able to spend time together as a unit.
“The family relaxes and does activities together. There’s also a cinema room where we do movie nights as we opted not to have TVs in common or private spaces,” stated Poh. Another requested space was an art studio for Poh to paint and create and this space now doubles as a dance and music room for the kids and is well-used by the family.
A big consideration for the family was leveraging on the latest technology to make the home smart. To achieve this, Poh says she worked very closely with DCA and the contractor to assure a seamless and simple integration of appliances to manage lighting, climate control, shading, security, sound systems, AV room and internet connectivity. By establishing simple scenes of each area, what is required can now be activated with a simple command on the owners’ smartphones.
While all the client’s requests were amply fulfilled, Poh shares that one crucial off-brief request was made early to Chan, which was to have a wow factor in the design. This was can be seen by how the main living room floor frames the whole of the Kuala Lumpur skyline.
“We paid a lot of attention onto where the ‘ground floor level’ should be when we were designing the house so as to match the horizon lines with the swimming pool. So it now reflects the city skyline when you sit on the sofa looking out from the living room,” explained Chan.
This was not lost on Poh and her husband: “Every time someone enters the main door, we want them to experience the wow feeling. The way DCA designed the entrance experience and how the entire KL skyline opens up through the living and dining rooms, behind the infinity pool, extending for more than 180 degrees, is truly breathtaking. Guests who come in for the first time have to stop for a minute to take it all in once they enter the house. In fact, the wow factor still occurs for me, too, every time I return home – even after almost two years of moving in.”