Cover The panoramic view of the KL skyline gives this home its wow factor

This family home in Bangsar was designed around maximising the spectacular view of the city skyline

For an established neighbourhood like Bangsar, one would never imagine that there would be any more surprises left to uncover. But Design Collective Architects (DCA) has created a home that brings to mind Pierre Koenig’s gravity defying Stahl house as immortalised by architectural photographer Julian Shulman. That iconic photograph showcased a house built almost at the edge of a cliff with a spectacular view of Los Angeles beneath it—except for this house in Bangsar, it’s a view of Kuala Lumpur.

 

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Above The dramatic roof line is matched by the dramatic view

This modernist bungalow belongs to a couple with two teenage children and is a new build over an old abandoned bungalow. The bungalow was fairly derelict when both owner and architects visited it, which was typical in design and layout for the area. 

However, as the architects took pictures of the site, trying to capture its surroundings through small openings and windows, the most exciting picture was through a high level small toilet window that captured a panoramic view of the Kuala Lumpur skyline.

“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 of what the site could offer,”recalls Chan Mun Inn, lead architect.

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KILLER VIEWS

This panoramic view from the site towards the skyline of Kuala Lumpur city then took centre stage and became the anchor for the project.

“This guided us on how the layout and design was to be developed. We explored this further with a drone and satellite imagery and were happy to discover that almost all of the tallest structures in Kuala Lumpur were visible from the site including the soon-to be completed Menara 118,” states Chan.

 

Designed with a kink in the middle to an angle of 210-degree, the wraparound façade starts along the north overlooking Genting Highlands, then east and south overlooking the city before concluding at the south-west looking back towards Bangsar Hills. Living spaces are aligned along this façade and designed with floor to ceiling sliding glass doors that open up to a large verandah and outdoor living space.

Always with the view in mind, the indoor open plan incorporates a sitting area, dining, and a dry kitchen designed to flow seamlessly with the outdoor elements of the pool side, sunken lounge and the large multi use deck. Spaces are visually extended beyond the boundary lines towards the visual distance limited only by the panoramic skyline that is essentially a backdrop enveloping the house.

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LOCKED AND LOADED

While having a wow factor was a priority, how it functioned to cater to the requirements of the family was equally important as each of them has respective hobbies that needed to be addressed. To this end, all bedrooms are located on the top most floor with each bedroom opening onto a large balcony that overlooks the view. A shared family and study area is located in the middle of the top floor with a protruding ‘bow’ that extends to the farthest most limit of the boundary setbacks.

“We jokingly refer to this as the ship’s bow in the movie Titanic where Jack and Rose stood in their signature pose,” explains Chan. “The ‘beak’ at the family room was designed as the furthest point of the house extending even beyond the swimming pool edge. At this point, you have the sensation of flight with nothing around you and are able to enjoy a full 210-degre unobstructed view of the city skyline.”

 

The ground floor consists of the common spaces for the house with the living room, dining areas and the kitchens located here. The main entrance to the house is via a slightly elevated arrival platform on the ground level that allows the visitors to ‘take in’ the panoramic views of the city.

The lower ground houses the car porch with a secondary entrance to the house along with the service areas and maids’ quarters. The secondary entrance was a request from the clients who wanted the house to be able to host their families during festive seasons. For this reason, a guest house was fully integrated in the building but with a separate entrance and spaces so guests may have their own privacy yet still be together with the family. A multi-purpose activity room can also be found here that serves as a dedicated space for the family to engage in their hobbies varying from painting to dance.

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OUT OF SITE

To avoid any additional site excavation and slope cutting, the new house was placed onto the existing platform levels of the original house. The siting and placement of the house in relation to its surrounding context ensures a balance between the new functions and needs of the owner and that of the surrounding neighbours. The actual house proper is kept low and limited to just the 2 storeys with the lower ground below road level.

The house was also designed to be naturally ventilated and bright. Windows and openings were placed intentionally to promote cross ventilation for internal spaces and air circulation. This coupled with having most of the large glazed panels towards the east, meant that the main family and living spaces are all shaded from the hot western sun.

“Even the east-facing bedrooms on the upper floor were designed with a 1:1 window height to balcony depth ratio to provide additional shading from the morning sun, which is when the owners and family members are still in their bedrooms,” enthuses Chan.

 

Floor to ceiling sliding glass doors can be found in the main living spaces and dining area. A 4.5m tall jumbo-size sliding panel slides away completely to the sides allowing the living room to blend seamlessly with the pool terrace and the surroundings.

Chan sums it up: “The design explores the idea of permeability in architecture and how a solid building mass can be designed to be spatially transparent. Site and context are allowed to play a more inclusive role in the experience of the house and to allow one to immerse themselves more with its surroundings.”

A quality this sleek, cleverly designed house has in spades.

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