This modified double story house by Seshan Design is a cool and extremely functional home for a gamer and his young family.
The typical double-storey link house found in the endless blocks of suburbs across the Klang Valley ceases to be just one of many in the hands of the designers at Seshan Design. After all, those behind the practice have a knack for accommodating owners’ unique needs despite limited envelopes. The client for this particular project is an old family friend of architect Ramesh Seshan, who was so impressed with his work on their previous link house projects that they wanted their new abode to undergo a similar transformation. “This house is a hybrid of our Gasing Indah and Hartamas projects, but with added requirements, of course. The husband is into fast cars, racing, scale modeling, and BBQs. And so, the house was designed for entertaining. A private man cave pod, suspended on the top of the house, ended up looking like a Mecha from some Japanese Anime, which is why we call it the “Gundam House!” explains Seshan.
The program of the house was inverted: the bedrooms were relocated to the ground floor, and the living spaces above. The ground floor, usually occupied by public places, now comprised of a guest room at the front and the master bedroom in the rear. To avoid the problem of too little lighting, both bedrooms open up to a central courtyard, which is open to the floor above with a skylight right at the top. A small utility room with the washing machine and dryer is also located adjacent to this courtyard. Says Ramesh: “This courtyard is covered by a translucent glass roof above, so it allows light and heat in, but obscures the view in from above. The master bedroom and bathroom also open up to a small courtyard at the rear of the house. This rear courtyard is screened off and secured from the back lane by a vent block wall on the ground floor, and continues into a two-storey high expanded metal cage right to the top which completely secures the rear of the house.”
To access the public area, a main stairway at the entrance leads guests right up to the first floor. This straight long flight of stairs also allows for efficient storage directly below it. “The main spaces of the house actually begin on the first floor. The first floor appears large and airy, and can be opened fully from the front to the rear. The front of the house is the living space, which opens up into a huge outdoor terrace – the car porch roof. The dining room on this first-floor terrace facilitates parties and the client’s regular BBQs. We separated the open kitchen from the living space with a
courtyard, while the rear of the house opens up to a flat roof in the rear. This is the service zone for the aircon outdoor units, and also the perfect platform for a herb garden directly behind the kitchen,” says Seshan.
While the expanse of space is impressive, especially in a midblock terrace house, the highlight of this space is undeniably what Seshan calls the ‘Gundam dropship’ mezzanine hanging over the kitchen. “Steel stairs lead up to this alien spacecraft, which has a fairly low ceiling. In it lies the owner’s massive collection of unopened Gundam robot (and other) kits, display cases for finished models, and a work desk for the scale modelling and airbrushing work. A virtual race car-simulator takes the prime centre space in this pod. We also added an en-suite bathroom so the pod could also be used as a guest room. A few guests have, in fact, lodged here on the foldable daybed that they managed to squeeze in as well. The idea is this: when there is a function, the ladies can keep busy in the kitchen and dining terrace below while the men can keep busy “playing” up in the pod, but with a clear line of sight to each other,” laughs Seshan.
As with Seshan’s previous projects, the seemingly small house appears much larger than it is. Seshan puts it down to the openness, and the clear line of sight from the top pod all the way down to the entrance and courtyard below. “This is the key factor in designing small spaces: continuous line of sight (and a lot of natural light!). It ensures that the spaces do not feel claustrophobic and gives the perception that the spaces are much larger than they actually are. The central courtyard with all spaces opening to the front and rear of the house at both levels ensures the house has sufficient cross ventilation as well,” concludes Seshan. But even the best-laid plans can go awry as Seshan adds: “The clients surprised everyone (including themselves) with their first child, who was born just before the house was completed, so we all ended up frantically adding in child-safe features just before handover!”
LEFT The facade of the double story link house is unassuming although the futuristic font hints at the coolness within. OPPOSITE RIGHT The mezzanine is made to look like a dropship from Gundam floating over the living space on the 1st floor, it contains the “man-cave” and games room for the husband. LEFT Neat plots of greenery can be found throughout the house to soften the hard finishes