Named for its rounded edges, the Fillet House designed by Keeyen Architect is a three-storey home with a dance hall
Designed for a young couple, this new build in Kuala Lumpur was freed from the tyranny of square corners when its designer, Ar Lim Kee Yen of Keeyen Architect, designed the four significant corners of the house to be pleasingly rounded. The couple had come across Lim's work online and appointed the architect after some discussion.
This commission resulted in a three-story private house consisting of six bedrooms and a dance hall which was awarded the Silver A' Design Award in the Architecture, Building and Structure Design Category by the International Design Academy in 2021.
With regards to terminology in design, a fillet is a rounded corner or edge, and the fillet idea came about to maximise the corner-lot building plinth through a series of design approaches that responded to the client's brief and context.
"The four prominent corners of the house are being filleted or rounded to soften the original allowed cubic mass. The filleted corner achieves wholeness and streamlines the building form externally. The building mass then was configured in response to the tropics, designated programmes, and neighbourhood with subtracted volumes for open terraces and voids," says Lim.
Masses are subtracted from their original form to create openness, allowing for day-light penetrations and bringing cross-ventilation closer to its layout when glazed doors and windows are fully opened. As a result, natural light enters the house across the levels, from open terraces and master lounge at second floor level to the living hall at the ground floor level through a tempered laminated glass floor and void openings at its first-floor level next to the dance hall.
Meanwhile, the dance hall, living and dining hall occupy the centre of the layout and connects all other essential spaces in the house. This minimises the need for long corridors by using the halls as transition spaces between the rooms. The dance hall in particular is a light-filled wide open space.
Passive green design was dutifully incorporated into the house especially to ensure that the comfort residents during different times of the day. For instance, the bedrooms and open terraces that face northwest towards the setting sun are designed with a minimal strip of openings to minimise heat gain.
A high-volume air well where the northeast facing sculptural spiral staircase is located is completed with a large glass panel. Horizontal sun shading devices protect the southwest facing front façade in the form of an aluminium fin running through its façade which became as a design feature.
The recessed space at the house's frontage was planned as a garage but can also be converted into a veranda for family activities. Externally, the sliding timber screen which clads the opening acts as the sun shading screen and portrays security and privacy to the occupants. Eventually, the manipulation of different layers and screens adds romanticism to the architectural spatial experiences.
Underlining the Fillet House's curves, the crafted metal railing wrapping the concrete spiral staircase is a continual flow of the filleted or rounded corners.
"The metal plate was laser-cut in the factory and welded on-site to form and craft the curvatures. The solidness of the spiral-form being isolated with random vertical metal plate rails adds another layering effect to the interior," enthuses Lim. "This sculpted spiral stair with a backdrop of large glazing frames and invites the green scenes from outside to the inside. Indeed the shadows fill this volume poetically, especially in the morning."
From street level, the staggered "filleted mass" is a dynamic form with graphic lines which appear pleasing to the eye and looks comfortable amidst its surroundings. To complete the modernist appearance, the architect reinterpreted the roof design from the typical pitch roof found in tropical houses.
Lim explains: "The Fillet House roof comes with an enlarged concrete gutter at its edges rather than a long overhang to achieve the completeness of the filleted geometry while effectively designed for water runoff. The material palette combining white, black, and grey curved solid planes with touches of timber and the transparency of the glass all work in concert to create a unique form which stands out within its neighbourhood."