- Architects: Seshan Design
- Location: Petaling Jaya, Malaysia
- Project Team: Ramesh Seshan, Jeslyn Ko, Sharmaine Wong
- Area: 2400.0 ft2
- Project Year: 2013
- Photographs: Rupajiwa Studio
- Contractor: W Design
- C&S Engineer: Projurutek Sdn Bhd
From the architect. This is one of our favorite houses. It embraces our ideals of building small and efficient. It is also one of our earlier prototype projects to test out ideas on future proofing. It was originally a compact two and a half story, 1625 sqft intermediate link house, which we souped-up to 4 stories (half basement and master bedroom attic) with an internal green wall courtyard. It now has an approx 2400 sqft final built up.
When we started, the clients; a young couple with their first child on the way, had a very tight budget (as always!). This was their first landed property (they were then staying in an apartment) and it was going to be “the” house; their (hopefully!) final home, where they will settle down properly and raise a family. In order to build the house within budget, the footprint had to be kept small. We are a very big proponent of efficient design and we believe we can fit in all the client’s needs, without having to extend the house too much.
The other effective way would be to future proof the house. That is, to design the house to its maximum potential, meeting the client’s full wish list but… we prioritize and only build what is immediately required to them. We get all the messy and complicated infrastructure components built first, and the other dry works like cabinetry and joinery (even additional bathrooms and bedroom walls), can be added later when it is needed. The clients can add these on 10 or 15 years down the line.
For example, when they initially moved in with their newborn baby, the house had a master bedroom, a study, maid’s room, a large open area which doubled up as a guest room and playroom, and a total of 3 bathrooms. In the future, within the same footprint, the house can effectively be built up to have 4 more rooms (in addition to the master bedroom, study room, and maid’s room) and an additional bathroom. We designed and built the infrastructure for this!
The other key feature of this house is the central courtyard/light well which punches through all the way to the top. This is the main source of light and air for the house. There is a jacked pitched polycarbonate roof at the top which allows cross ventilation and keeps the rain out. The height (4 stories) of this air well makes for an excellent stack effect that keeps the house breezy and cool.
This central courtyard allows users to have a line of sight from practically every space to another. It is the visual link to all the spaces in the house. This is the key factor in designing small spaces: continuous line of sight (and a lot of natural light!) ensures that the spaces do not feel claustrophobic and gives the perception that the spaces are much larger than they actually are.
We also included the piping infrastructure for rainwater harvesting where the harvested rainwater can be stored and used for watering the plants, washing the cars and even flushing the WCs in the bathrooms. We didn’t put in the storage tanks, pumps and filters due to the limited budget but they can be added in later. Rainwater from the roof and garden terrace are carried down to the predesignated area for the storage tanks via symphonic rainwater downpipes by Fast Flow.