Renovated during the two-year pandemic, this family home has an introverted ethos but with exuberant results

The two-year pandemic was a time of self-reflection for many, taking the space to rethink the way we live as we remained locked down in our homes. For architect Chun Hooi Tan, director of Core Design Workshop and his wife, an art gallerist, it was an opportunity to renovate their home into a space which expressed their shared passions.

The house in question was a modest single-storey semi-detached house in a suburban township developed and built in the 1970s outside Kuala Lumpur. Sharing the home with their four-year-old son, the couple initiated this project in 2020. From inception, conceptualisation, and design to long-haul construction, it spanned through the entire two years of the pandemic. 

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Photo 1 of 3 An aerial view of Introverse
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Nicknamed "Introverse", the home defies social norms and puts a new way of living to the test where a home is organised in an introverted manner, contrary to normal outward-looking houses.

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Photo 1 of 2 The garden is lush and well-kept
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"Introverse was born out of this social context where the rights in our social perception could have been wrong, and the wrongs were right. If we could ditch the influence of social perception in our mind, we may find new paths to progress onward instead of wandering on the status quo," explains Tan. "I was diagnosed with vocal cord cancer and since then, I have learned to embrace the introverted character in me."

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Photo 1 of 3 The internal garden is completely private
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Architecture takes precedence in redefining the garden where a full-height linear garden wall was installed. Suspended on a steel structure, hovering above the ground and running 10-feet from the perimeter fencing, this created a new walled garden within a garden. Separated from the outer garden, the inner garden mirrors ancient Chinese architecture or the Japanese zen garden.

 

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Photo 1 of 3 The open air kitchen has modular islands
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"This is an outdoor space where one can live without the constraints of security and privacy, a garden where one can utilise and enjoy simultaneously. It is within this walled garden area where the wet rooms of the house, the kitchen, and the bathrooms are found, integrated freely with no physical walls defining the individual areas," explains Tan.

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Photo 1 of 2 Indoor-outdoor living blends seamlessly in Introverse
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A linear cross-ventilation tunnel was created on the opposite side of the garden to detach the house from the adjacent neighbour.

With a courtyard sitting in the middle as a chimney, the individual rooms within this zone are separated by permeable adjustable louvres and perforated metals, making this zone another semi-outdoor space where the utility, foyer, powder room, and a mezzanine playroom are found.

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Photo 1 of 3 High ceilings promote air circulation
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These semi-outdoor spaces are inwardly arranged and look into the core of the house where the living and dining room stands, the space where we usually define the purpose of homes.

Flanked by two bedrooms on each side, this core space comprising these three main rooms makes up the house at its most fundamental. 

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Photo 1 of 2 Simple honest finishings were favoured
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"Reacting to both architecture and socio-cultural context, externally, the house is covered in new metal roofing while preserving the original building profile. Internally, the old complex layout of the house was entirely stripped and transformed into simple and minimal spaces," muses Tan.

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Photo 1 of 2 The bathrooms are open air as well
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The philosophy of minimalism is reflected in the spatial organisation of the house. It is further expressed in its material selections, architecture finishings, built-ins, and interior furnishings to the curation of contemporary art around the house.

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Photo 1 of 2 Bedrooms have full height doors which open up completely
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Here, minimalism is not merely a style but expressed in architectural solutions to current needs, standards, and lifestyle.

"It is a formula to minimise the unnecessaries in our life, from the hoarding habit and the influence of social perception of living up to others' expectations. In Introverse, we can be honest with ourselves, find our voice, and define our own life, which is the essence of minimalism, our very own version of minimalism."

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