Cover The Monterez Bungalow (Photo: Studio Bikin, Paul Gadd & Gerry Chin)

Dubbed the Monterez Bungalow, this imposing concrete structure stands out against the greenery of the Monterez golf course

Overlooking a sprawling golf course in Shah Alam, this 12,500sf bungalow stands proud, a gargantuan wonder of angular concrete shapes that cut an imposing silhouette. When design architect Jie Hsin Loo and design director Farah Azizan of Studio Bikin first laid eyes on the original structure, they were presented with a unique set of design challenges, from the slope on which the house was built to its weak foundation that necessitated the addition of a retaining wall and beams.

But one aspect of the older structure remains: The placement of key living spaces like the living room, kitchen and dining area on the top floor, which boasted panoramic views of the golf course. The use of balconies and elevated outdoor terraces that seem to float above the trees also offer multiple vantage points from which to enjoy the scenery.                              

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"We believe that the spatial planning should be developed in relation to the context around the project site," shares Loo, who describes the bungalow's overall look at 'brutalist'. 

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In the case of the Monterez House, the nuances of its landscape apparently had the same effect on the previous owners as it did on the new design team, resulting in a unique layout that naturally drew attention back to the greenery.                   

"Interestingly, the project brief kept evolving as we progressed," explains Loo. "We did have to amend the layout configuration to suit the client's new needs; for instance, the selection of materials were changed to make the home more kid-friendly, which was a priority." 

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That said, the Studio Bikin team was given a lot of freedom by the homeowners to make bold design decisions, incorporating cold and bare elements of concrete and steel with colours, geometrical patterns and stunning design features that would make optimal use of the sheer scale of the space.  

One such design feature that demands attention from the onset is the cantilever staircase positioned at the angled main entrance, opening up circulation and freeing up space from its original location in the centre of the ground floor lobby.

Another feature is the magnificent concrete chandelier suspended above the lobby, built to allow in plenty of natural light into heart of the home—not to mention a touch of dramatic flair.

"The two-tonne concrete chandelier suspended over the double volume space is an interesting design feature," muses Loo. "After we came up with the geometric design of the chandelier, we worked closely with the C&S engineer to design a steel bar system to link with the upstand reinforced concrete roof beam. The structural frame system held the four interconnected hexagonal concrete rings together by steel brackets, suspended in different tiers."

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Throughout the house, the ubiquitous presence of concrete is paired with softer hints of timber, muted colours and laidback furnishings to scale down its intensity in areas like the living room, the dining halls and the hallways. 

"Ultimately, we wanted the house to express the original, raw architectural finish materials, like polished concrete, matte black mild steel, and a little bit of walnut timber," Loo shares. "We also inserted colours to highlight the upper floor common areas, using indigo and muted green tones."

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With the key communal spaces on the top floors, the ground floor is home to four bedrooms that are all connected by a private living area and pantry that also leads out to the swimming pool. This spacious and functional arrangement creates better air circulation.

As Loo reveals, the Monterez bungalow does not limit itself to a specific design style or theme. Rather, it relies on masterful craftsmanship as well as a variety of materials and design details to turn a raw, concrete facade into a welcoming space at every turn.

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