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Remarkable Living

A modern Balinese longhouse built with lava stones from the volcano Mount Agung

Built to integrate seamlessly into the lush Balinese rainforest, Rumah Fajar or House of Dawn, is a luxurious home that draws inspiration from its surroundings.

A modern Balinese longhouse built with lava stones from the volcano Mount Agung

The living and dining areas open into one large space with panoramic views of the jungle. (Photo: Threesixzero Productions)

Volcanoes are often thought to be destructive, but they can also bring about creation in the aftermath.

Nowhere can that be seen more clearly than at Rumah Fajar, a modern interpretation of a Balinese longhouse that architect Maximilian Jencquel built for his family in the rainforests of Ubud.

Located on a slope along the valley of the Campuhan River and overlooking the island’s Mount Agung volcano, the four-bedroom villa, which sits on 20,500 sq ft of land, was built in 2017, around the same time the volcano erupted.

The house, which took several years to build, certainly incorporates many materials that are related somehow to earth and fire, such as oven-fired bricks. (Photo: Threesixzero Productions)

“We were in the middle of building all these walls with the lava stone, and the supply for the lava stone comes from the volcano so it was providing us with more material to build the house,” said Jencquel, who runs a boutique studio in Ubud where he designs homes featuring Balinese vernacular architecture. “There was this idea that Mother Earth was giving us the materials that we needed to build the house.”

The walls were built using the lava stone from Mount Agung when it erupted in 2017. (Photo: Threesixzero Productions)

The house, which took several years to build, certainly incorporates many materials that are related somehow to earth and fire, such as the oven-fired bricks. The deep red colour of the bricks represent the volcano as well as the shades of the sunrise.

“The wood is blackened, which is also related to this idea of volcanic eruption and the colour of the red brick reminds us of the lava flow that we witnessed live as we were building. We would come here in the evenings and see Mount Agung erupting and this glow coming out of the volcano,” said Jencquel.

The name Rumah Fajar, which means House of Dawn, also pays tribute to its location. Stefanie, Jencquel’s wife, said: “We love this neighbourhood. We love the valley and the view, and the sunrise. We get the most beautiful sunrise. It is the best time of the day.”

(Photo: Threesixzero Productions)

Born in Venezuela, Jencquel first visited Bali in 2008 and fell in love with the island and its culture. His interest in the design and layout of traditional Balinese compounds led him to start his design practice in Ubud, the cultural heart of the island. Naturally, his home features many elements that are commonly found in a Balinese home.

A traditional Balinese gate known as the Ankul-Ankul is situated at the entrance of the compound. “You squeeze past this little gate and it is a little bit like a rabbit hole in Alice in Wonderland,” explained Jencquel. Then, there is a structure called the Aling-Aling, located just after the gate to confuse and scare off evil spirits. To get to the rest of the property, one has to walk through the lushly landscaped garden via a bridge. “We decided to make it zig zag, to get any spirits a little bit dizzy,” he quipped.

The tropical gardens, which Jencquel himself designed, include a beautiful koi pond as well as a wide variety of plants including coconut palms, heliconias and orchids that evoke a sense of wonder. Their children especially love spending time here or hanging out in the pool.

“I think the children are very privileged to grow up with so much nature around them, to have these open views and not to be caged into a space,” he observed. “They have a really strong relationship to nature and to animals like the insects, lizards, and the fish in the pond - all of this is very much part of how they are growing up.”

The two-storey home is naturally ventilated with wooden slats as walls to keep it cool all through the year. From the main door, the living and dining areas open into one large space with panoramic views of the jungle, making it an ideal location for the family to hang out or to entertain.

“You have the wide open view in front of you but you feel like you are in a cocoon when you are inside, so when there is heavy rain, you still feel really comfortable,” said Stefanie.

This indoor-outdoor concept extends to the kitchen, which Stefanie said is her favourite kitchen out of all the houses the family has lived in. Like the living area, the wooden slats keep the space well ventilated while luxurious Italian Carrara marble countertops offer plenty of space for food preparation. The kitchen is also equipped with top-of-the-line appliances, including a Bertazzoni induction cooktop, a Bosch oven and a French-door refrigerator.

“You get fresh air in from outside, but it’s not too open and you can use the two counters really well,” she said.

The kitchen is also the symbolic heart of the home for her. She said: “When we became a family, I really felt that I wanted to eat at home with my family. I want to have what my mother gave me, and a home only becomes a home when you can also eat at home.”

The kitchen is Mrs Stefanie Jencquel's favourite kitchen out of all the houses the family has lived in. (Photo: Threesixzero Productions)

The idyllic home and the lifestyle that the Jencquel family lead here have even inspired some of the couple’s friends to ask if they can buy over their property. “People and friends of ours who have been here on the island and know us, when they see the house, they would be like, ‘Wow! This is the best house we have ever been to.’ It adds an additional layer to the whole experience,” said Jencquel.

It is also an affirmation that his design sensibilities and their way of living in harmony with nature is an inspiration to others. He said, “We have created a lifestyle that people are coming into and that is a beautiful thing.”

(Photo: Threesixzero Productions)
07:03 Min

Located on a slope along the valley of the Campuhan River and overlooking the island’s Mount Agung volcano, the four-bedroom villa, which sits on 20,500 sq ft of land, was built in 2017, around the same time the volcano erupted.

Adapted from the series Remarkable Living (Amazing Spaces). Watch full episodes on CNA, every Sunday at 8.30pm.
Source: CNA/bt

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