Cover Domaine Architects fuse colonial and vernacular references to great effect in this unique home

A skillful fusion of inspirations, Domaine Architects have created a uniquely site-specific home for a young family

Something old, something new, something borrowed and something unique is the result. At least, this was the case for Domaine Architect’s distinctive project in Sungai Penchala which takes cues from colonial style, borrows from vernacular architecture and fuses it with modernist rigour.

The result is a distinctive look which feels familiar yet isn’t in the best possible way. This is not new for Domaine Architects, who have designed standout buildings like Kapas in Bangsar and KLOE Hoel. Kapas, a condominium project which aims to create a community spirit through design, recently took home the Gold Award at the PAM Awards 2021 in the Multiple Residential High Rise category.

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Above The dynamic roof line

This new landmark in the upmarket suburb is hard to miss with its dynamic form and dramatic black cladding. This singular architectural expression makes sense when one takes into account Domaine Architect’s approach to design, which states categorically that aesthetic is not all about style but about deeply considering and creating a project-specific response. And since no site and project variables are ever identical, the end results would not be as well. 

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Past Perfect

For the Penchala Residence, the site is located on a corner lot measuring approximately 9,600 sq ft. Slopey with a significant level difference of over 9m from the highest to the lowest end, the challenges of its unusual shape are mitigated by its enviable surroundings.

Being situated on a hill beside a forest reserve next to Taman Tun Dr Ismail, the home has the fortune of being surrounded by lush greenery while being able to access the trappings of urban life a short 10-minute drive away. Built from the ground up, the home was designed for a small young family of four.


“When the client approached us, they wanted a house that was inspired by colonial design. We took that as the main design inspiration and made a contemporary adaptation via the use of vernacular architectural elements that reminded us of the old tropical British style,” explains AR. Masyerin M. Nor, founder and principal of Domaine Architects. In line with the colonial inspiration, the house is composed in both fair face red clay and white washed bricks, white washed walls and timber ceilings, clear glass Naco louvers and concrete ventilation blocks.

Due to the generously proportioned windows and strategically planned openings, the interior spaces are filled with abundance of natural light with views out towards the corner courtyard and greenery. For comfort and privacy, a white perforated metal screen that looks like a woven patterned fabric was designed on the east-facing facade to filter light and views into the house.

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House proud

Working with the sloping site, the basement level comprises the car park and room for the owner’s collection of motorbikes. All communal areas like the living and dining rooms and the outdoor patio are located on the ground floor while private areas like the bedroom are confined to the second floor. A suspended steel frame staircase pierces through the centre of the house with white rods encasing its sculptural form to offer definition and for safety purposes. “The staircase worked out just right. It offers an almost perfect balance of lightness and sturdiness that we wanted,” enthuses Masyerin.


The interior finishes of the house favour wood cladding in a natural stain finish and simple concrete floors. Built-ins echo the timber screens and are accented with bronze striped edging. To echo the retro vibe, the interior is filled with locally designed and made wooden furniture, mostly inspired by the mid-century era.

“The majority of the furniture and some light pieces were designed and made locally. We worked with some of the best local makers and artisans like Lain Furniture, Nic Chris and Stephanie Ng Design to create custom designed pieces,” says Masyerin. “The artworks are also by local artists, with one unique piece by a young world-renowned autistic savant artist who goes by the name of Artjamila.”

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Environmental Essentials

In terms of green initiatives, the architects employed a mix of passive and active features. The floor plate of the house is designed to be narrow in order to promote natural light and ventilation. During the day, the design ensures that there will be minimal dependence on artificial light. Large glazings are designed facing north and south with a sun screen on the east facade. Openable windows are placed on opposite walls of the interior spaces in order to promote cross ventilation, thus minimising the use of air conditioning.


Solar panels are also fitted on the roof to generate as much as 1,050kwh of electricity per month. The home's design allows for the small but meaningful offsetting of a carbon footprint estimated at 20.9 barrels of oil consumed and 10.6 acres of forest a year. At the same time, the electrical fittings and equipment were carefully selected to ensure efficient energy consumption.

Bright and breezy, Penchala Residence is designed to offer an effortlessly elegant lifestyle, a fact that the family it was designed for is discovering every day according to Masyerin: “As far as they tell me, I believe that the clients are very pleased with the house. Their nine-year-old son loves the pool. He’s always in it, every day. And because the pool is visible from the many main spaces of the house, it’s easy for the client to keep an eye on him.”


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