The Star Malaysia - Star2

TWIN AES­THET­ICS

Hov­er­ing over large, open-plan spa­ces, the unique roof de­signs of these two houses are in­spired by the canopy of the lush, ma­ture rain trees around them.

- By WONG LI ZA life­style@thes­tar.com.my

THE two homes cas­cade gen­tly over the slope, al­most as if cud­dling the land they rest on.

What stands out are the roof struc­tures – which wrap firmly yet flu­idly over the houses – and how the over­all de­sign is in­spired by the sur­round­ing rain trees.

Over 100ft (30.5m) tall, with wide arch­ing fo­liage that fans out in a pro­tec­tive stance, the shady trees gave birth to the idea of a large canopy un­der which all the liv­ing spa­ces would be ar­ranged, shield­ing the in­te­ri­ors from the heat while still able to cap­ture the breeze.

Com­pleted in 2018, Falan­chity House and Canopy House, lo­cated in Ukay Heights, Am­pang, Se­lan­gor, be­long to two friends who agreed to hav­ing sim­i­lar ar­chi­tec­tural fea­tures.

“Both houses shared the same de­sign phi­los­o­phy, which was to cre­ate a shel­ter repli­cated from the idea of the huge canopy of trop­i­cal trees that dot­ted the site.

“The early con­cept was based on the idea of refuge un­der a canopy that pro­tected the oc­cu­pants from the nat­u­ral el­e­ments, like rain and sun.

“This idea was then de­vel­oped into a com­plex roof struc­ture that en­gaged with the steep, sloped land and the clients’ in­di­vid­ual spa­tial re­quire­ments.

“The shape of the roofs is in­spired by the di­rec­tion and move­ment of the sun, as well as takes into con­sid­er­a­tion how breeze is drawn in from the val­ley be­low, and the open­ing up of the houses to the dis­tant KL and im­me­di­ate gar­den views,” ex­plained lead ar­chi­tect Melvyn J. Kanny, from MJ Kanny Ar­chi­tect.

The de­sign high­light, added Kanny, was to cre­ate a float­ing roof over an open-plan con­cept house.

“This al­lowed the spa­ces to ap­pear seam­less and not con­tained or de­fined within spe­cific boxes as found in most houses. It also pro­vided the op­por­tu­nity to es­cape from con­ven­tional flat ceil­ings. The roof it­self dou­bled as the ceil­ing and so the lat­ter rises and falls de­pend­ing on which space you were in, cre­at­ing a dy­namic, fluid-like ef­fect and quite of­ten, large cav­ernous spa­ces,” he ex­plained.

Two key de­sign and constructi­on chal­lenges that arose re­volved around the roof struc­tures and the steep­ness of the slopes the houses were built on.

“Ten years ago, 3D soft­ware was be­com­ing more preva­lent and that was a big help as these houses could not pos­si­bly be de­signed us­ing 2D meth­ods like in the old days.

“This was be­cause the roofs evolved and mor­phed into their fi­nal forms af­ter count­less changes. It was ba­si­cally like carv­ing out a piece of sculp­ture that needed to both func­tion as a roof as well as an ar­chi­tec­tural form. That took months to de­velop, with co­op­er­a­tion from both en­gi­neer and ar­chi­tect, un­til the fi­nal nod from the clients,” shared Kanny.

The steep slopes also meant ad­di­tional con­sid­er­a­tions needed to be taken to pre­vent slope fail­ure.

“Constructi­on took over three years to com­plete as the con­trac­tor strug­gled to build the houses due to lim­ited access, a steep ter­rain and com­plex­ity of the roof struc­ture,” he added.

As­phalt-based shin­gle roofs were se­lected in the end as they matched the over­all build­ing con­text and ap­peared al­most part of the nat­u­ral sur­round­ings.

The roof struc­ture was built en­tirely out of steel I-beams (beams with I-shaped cross sec­tions) as tim­ber would not be strong enough for the huge spans re­quired. The ceil­ing was lined with Ny­a­toh tim­ber boards while leav­ing the steel beams ex­posed.

“Sus­tain­able prod­ucts were not read­ily avail­able when the spec­i­fi­ca­tions were done some eight years ago, so we went with read­ily avail­able lo­cal hard­wood.”

Be­ing one with na­ture

Al­though the houses share a sim­i­lar de­sign ap­proach, they are also unique in their own way, each serv­ing the clients’ re­quire­ments ac­cord­ingly.

Canopy House was de­signed for a cou­ple, their par­ents and son, whilst Falan­chity was de­signed for an en­gi­neer who is also a fic­tion writer.

When it comes to the in­te­ri­ors, Falan­chity House is home to an­tique-style fur­ni­ture as the owner en­joys col­lect­ing such pieces, par­tic­u­larly those from the Asian re­gion. Mean­while, Canopy House ex­udes a more con­tem­po­rary, Nu­san­tara-style con­cept.

Be­ing lo­cated on a hill means the houses are gen­er­ally cooler than the city be­low. In ad­di­tion, roof in­su­la­tions and large over­hangs fur­ther pro­mote a com­fort­able am­bi­ent tem­per­a­ture, re­duc­ing the need for air-con­di­tion­ing.

“Large glazed win­dows com­pen­sate for the loss of sun­light en­ter­ing the house due to the roof over­hangs, so there is less de­pen­dence on ar­ti­fi­cial light­ing,” said Kanny.

Glass roofs and floors were also fac­tored into Falan­chity House to al­low light to pen­e­trate down­wards into the sub-base­ment floors. All bed­rooms also have high-level bam­boo screens to

al­low hot air to dis­si­pate and to en­cour­age cross ven­ti­la­tion. The roof also gen­er­ally hov­ers about four inches (10cm) above the walls and win­dows to al­low hot air to es­cape.

“The large vault-like ceil­ings fur­ther help keep the in­ter­nal spa­ces cool while dis­cour­ag­ing the use of air-con­di­tion­ing. We also took great lengths to pre­serve the huge trop­i­cal trees on the site. Some of the trees were an­chored to the ground to keep them sta­ble and to pre­vent them from sway­ing to­wards the house,” said Kanny.

Even the lift in Canopy House was fit­ted with a roof sky­light to al­low light to pen­e­trate down­wards to the low­est floor. Tim­ber lou­vres were in­tro­duced on the win­dows to re­duce sun­light and glare en­ter­ing the spa­ces.

Over­all, the houses were de­signed to blend seam­lessly with the out­doors and en­cour­age the oc­cu­pants to en­joy the nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ment.

“Our de­sign ap­proach has al­ways been to al­low the house to en­gage with its sur­round­ings and take ad­van­tage of the trop­i­cal set­ting unique to Malaysia. Trop­i­cal heat and rain are ma­jor chal­lenges that needed to be over­come but when cel­e­brated, they can be the driv­ing fac­tor be­hind the de­sign it­self,” ended Kanny.

 ?? Photo: MJ Kanny Ar­chi­tect ??
Photo: MJ Kanny Ar­chi­tect
 ?? — Pho­tos: MJ Kanny Ar­chi­tect ?? Two key chal­lenges in build­ing Falan­chity House (pic­tured) and Canopy House per­tained to the roof struc­tures and the steep­ness of the slopes the houses sit on.
— Pho­tos: MJ Kanny Ar­chi­tect Two key chal­lenges in build­ing Falan­chity House (pic­tured) and Canopy House per­tained to the roof struc­tures and the steep­ness of the slopes the houses sit on.
 ??  ?? Large glazed win­dows at Canopy House help brighten up its in­te­ri­ors.
Large glazed win­dows at Canopy House help brighten up its in­te­ri­ors.
 ??  ?? Falan­chity House is home to an­tiquestyle fur­ni­ture, par­tic­u­larly pieces from the Asian re­gion.
Falan­chity House is home to an­tiquestyle fur­ni­ture, par­tic­u­larly pieces from the Asian re­gion.
 ??  ?? Canopy House was de­signed to blend seam­lessly with the out­doors.
Canopy House was de­signed to blend seam­lessly with the out­doors.
 ??  ?? Some of the rain trees seen around Canopy House.
Some of the rain trees seen around Canopy House.

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