Maria Endah Hulupi, Contributor, Jakarta
Playing with shapes and light can bring out a dazzling, standout effect of its own, and make a house into a home.
Natural light and geometric shapes are the main features of this house in Pluit, North Jakarta, creating an effect that reflects a desire to live free in nature, amid the house's strong modern-contemporary look.
Standing on an 8 meter by 25 meter plot, the house was designed with a concept inspired by a forest atmosphere, with plenty of natural light penetrating through the branches and leaves before finally settling onto the earth.
The atmosphere is brought into the interior through the use of a skylight, which allows sunlight penetration inside, pillars as a symbol of tree trunks and elliptical curve as a metaphorical form of a leafy tree when viewed from below.
""Actually, we did not have to use pillars but we used them anyway to represent the trees,"" said architect Julio Julianto.
Natural light during the day plays a central role in the entire design and it does not only work to provide natural illumination, but also to help create the desired forest-like atmosphere as it falls into the interior.
And just like the light is sieved by the leaves and branches of trees in the forest, the light coming from the skylights is filtered by geometric shaped spaces in the interior.
""The skylight is not a common (architectural) element in Indonesia. Many people refuse to have a skylight since they think that it would make their home unbearably hot. But such a concern is groundless,"" Julio said.
He added that he used tempered glass which reduces the heat and glare up to 40 percent.
The elliptical curve in the void area at the center of the house is cut off by the glass bridge and other geometric spaces, but the use of this elliptical shape also determines the master bedroom's curvy balcony on the exterior.
The void in this part of the house enables natural light falls to the ground floor, optimally illuminating other rooms in the surroundings. Glass material is used for the bridge on the upper level so as not to obstruct the light from the skylights.
Thanks to this arrangement, the interior of the house receives optimal natural light from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., and the light creates interesting shades that gradually shift during this period of time. The light and its shade also act as a feature in the interior spaces.
""Shunning natural light by using curtains, for example, deprives the interior from this beautiful natural effect. Many people are not aware of this kind of accent,"" Julio said.
He also created openings in the upper part of the house to ensure proper cross circulation.
Even though he played with geometric shapes both in the exterior and interior of the house, the architect also ensures a lack of clutter in the interior by concealing several doors, like the one that leads to the service area, so they blend with the adjoining walls.
Exposed concrete and plastered walls are used in the interior to give textures and different color nuances. For the staircase, timber tread and iron railing are used.
He also used polycarbonate to give an accent to the faade and in one of the bedrooms. ""Polycarbonate is not a common material for the wall but I dared the client, and he agreed to use it for the faade,"" he added.
The service area is located behind the garage and is extended to another service and servant's quarter on the upper floor, and to the drying area on the roof floor. These particular parts of the house are connected with a spiraling stairs.
The ground floor accommodates the public areas, such as the living room, the storage, the family room, the sitting room and the den, while the private areas such as bedrooms are on the second story.
""We keep the living room very simple and functional because, like in many houses, it is rarely used,"" Julio explained.
He added windows in the interior wall around the void area with an aim to enable interaction with this void area and to expose the rooms, especially those on the upper floor, to an inward view.
""The house is flanked by other houses and these kinds of houses do not usually have much view to the streets, so we created a desired atmosphere or view in the interior and arrange the owners' activities towards this view.""
A wall on the second story was designed so that it can double as a gallery to display the family's photos, and the lighting was specially designed to artistically highlight the items.
Despite the house;s modern-contemporary look, the tropical character is still present, thanks to the abundant natural light inside the house and the use of timber material.
""It was one of the owner's requests to have a house which respects the tropical climate,"" he added.