Cover Compact in size but generous with open spaces

Despite its compact footprint, NDC Design's urban resort-style home in USJ Grandville for a young family does not compromise on lifestyle.

Located in Grandville USJ One, an exclusive guarded and gated community of bungalow lots, is the site of this home for a young family of four. The brief from the client was simple. The husband requested a house with its own gym and lap pool for his daily workouts. He also wanted a karaoke room and space for his PlayStation and arcade game console. The wife asked for a big kitchen to cook in. 

Apart from these requirements, the owners left the finer detailing and design to Ng Dick Son and Tan Kay Neth, founders of NDC Design. The clients also left the architecture and interior design to them, which was advantageous because they could control the overall outcome and the seamless integration between architecture and the interior elements.

"As the land size is only about 6,000 sq ft, and knowing that is a small family of four, it was clear from the start that the house would be a compact bungalow without compromising on the lifestyle of a cosy home," recalls Tan.

"When we first visited the site, we noticed that one side of the house was surrounded by mature trees and had an almost uninterrupted view of the surrounding neighbourhood. That’s when we knew we needed to capitalise on that side of the external view and have a seamless connection with the interior space. When all the sliding glass doors unfold, the internal spaces extend out to the exterior and give the impression of a much larger living space."

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The main inspiration for the home came from the idea of having a resort home despite living in the city. The lap pool thus became the key feature of the house where the architects arranged all the main internal spaces parallel to the rectilinear lap pool to overlook it and the landscape beyond.

Some rooms were deliberately placed close to the water edge to have a more intimate relationship with the water, with some hovering above it as though floating above, and some set off from the body of water to allow space for a semi-outdoor terrace. All design interventions were thoughtfully designed to create a variety of spatial experiences.


To create a choreography of homecoming at the main entrance, guests are first greeted by a series of solid feature walls and a shallow water feature.

"The main wooden door was entirely made of solid Balau wood with the arrangement of the wood planks, wooden door handle, and wooden lockset, which we custom designed inspired by traditional wooden village wooden doors. It also allowed us the opportunity to work closely with and support local craftsmen in the process," muses Tan.

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Upon entering the first main wooden door, the sensory experience is heightened by the view of a double-volume semi-outdoor patio and a massive cantilevered structure above it that provides shelter to the space beneath.

Once inside, the living and dining spaces are one ample open space that overlooks the pool and landscaping. Bi-fold doors open up completely to provide an undefined boundary and threshold between indoor and outdoor spaces. At the same time, the patio, swimming pool and landscape become an extension of the living spaces.

"We always believe in the notion that living in the tropics, a house must be very much naturally ventilated and sheltered from the harsh sun and rains. Hence the design of full height openings on both sides of the house increases cross ventilation and ample overhangs above to protect from rain. Water features and plants are also important to cool down the surrounding temperature," explains Tan.

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Deep vertical fins were introduced as sun shading devices to prevent direct heat gain. These vertical fins also act as a privacy screen for the occupants, bringing in indirect natural daylight without always having to draw the curtains and blinds.

On the external wall of the ground floor plane, a board-form concrete wall was used to give a rough texture and the illusion of a strong solid base.

As the walls transition into the internal space, the solid timber door and flooring provide a smooth contrast that softens the otherwise crude concrete walls.

Internally, most of the materials comprise polished and warm materials such as marble, glass and timber to create a cosier and intimate atmosphere. Some steel elements were introduced to give the architecture an extra edge; this is also to prevent water streaks or stains in the future.

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Most of the furniture were sourced from a local manufacturer supplying hotels and resorts throughout Malaysia. "We were particularly hands-on with selecting the pieces and upholstery so that the concept that we envisaged can be carried out throughout the exterior and interior spaces," says Tan. "The interior design is subtle without being overly decorated to avoid unnecessary visual distraction." 

Where appropriate, the architects infused built-in "furniture" into the designs, like put in extra thought into designing the external perimeter fence wall and outdoor features such as the cantilever concrete bench that doubles up as a shoe cabinet beneath.


Now that the home is completed, Tan reveals that the clients are enjoying the space.

In fact, the results are congruent with the core of the firm's design philosophy, which is to create spaces that enlighten its users: "The clients loves how the spaces were arranged, which gave them a lifestyle that they were not accustomed to before, but they are completely enjoying it now."


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