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Inke Gallery House

A brick wall laid in a unique pattern gives character to the house and makes a wonderful backdrop for the display of finely crafted objects.

Inke Gallery House A

A “floating” staircase of concrete steps with wood treads cantilevered from the structural wall leads from the gallery on the second floor to another gallery on the third. The unfinished quality of the walls and stairs harmonizes beautifuly with the pottery on display on the wooden table below.

Inke Gallery House B

Local zoning regulations in the buffer zone between the high-rise business district along Jakarta’s main boulevard, Jalan MH Thamrin, and the low-rise élite and historical residential neighborhood of Menteng allow mid-rise development for offices or commercial use. While Menteng is a residential district with strict conservation restrictions, buildings up to four stories can be constructed within the buffer zone. Taking full advantage of this, designer Yusman Siswandi, who also owns the small site, planned a building with multiple functions: a display gallery, a private house, and an office. Essentially, the building is a modern-day take on the traditional shophouse, degraded in most developments towards the end of the twentieth century, but here forming a strategically located, easily accessible workplace within the home that not only reduces travel time between home and workplace but also provides liveability, comfort, and aesthetics along with efficiency and functionality.

The designer’s conscious attempt to conform to the architectural character of historical Menteng, which is dotted with a number of public buildings built between the 1930s and 1950s, is evident in the building’s Art Deco proportions and the emphasis on craftsmanship. Although the detailing, particularly the latticed woodwork on the façade and the brick work of the walls, is reminiscent of Frank Lloyd Wright,Yusman also looked to Indonesia’s long tradition of working in terracotta and wood. The brickwork alludes to the terracotta temples of Java, particularly those built during the Majapahit era, while the woodwork is similar to that found on various traditional houses throughout Indonesia, particularly the Toraja houses of Sulawesi.

Inke Gallery House C

On the first floor, the gallery areas wrap around two sides of the central courtyard, with the kitchen and dining room at right.

Inke Gallery House D

A clerestory window in the double-height entrance foyer brings in light from the front. While the door is finely hand-crafted, the walls of the space are made to appear unfinished.

Inke Gallery House E

An esoteric and eclectic mix of objects, some newly crafted, others elegant decaying antiques, provide a glimpse of what the gallery house is all about. A simple chandelier composed of lights installed around a circular band of tempered steel ceremoniously embellishes the space.

Surrounded by high-rise buildings, the house, which is pushed back to the boundaries on three sides, covers the entire buildable 220 square meters of the 335-square meter site, allowing for a seven-meter setback in front.

The organizing element of the three-story building is a sky-lit void-cum-courtyard, extending the complete height of the building, around which the living and gallery spaces are arranged. The central void allows air to flow through the building, while distributing light to the rooms during the day. An installation that drips water into a shallow pool is a simple and soothing audio-visual feature of the courtyard. From the entrance, the display gallery covers the areas in front and to the left of the void, while the back and right house the kitchen and living room respectively. A staircase in front of the courtyard leads to more gallery space and an office on the second floor, while a staircase near the dining room leads to the living room and bedrooms. More offices and storage occupy the third floor.

Inke Gallery House F

Objects are elegantly displayed in an open vitrine and on a single slab of thick timber at the end of the main gallery. Above, lights and air-conditioning units are hidden behind a simple structure covered with white fabric.

Inke Gallery House G

The display of objects extends to the galleries on the upper floors. The various stools and chairs on sale also allow visitors to sit and contemplate.

Inke Gallery House H

Symmetry and balance characterize the façade. The large front doors, flanked by light fixtures, confer a sense of entry. Above the doors, an unusual wood screen filters light into the gallery.

Inke Gallery House I

This close-up of the cantilevered staircase between the second and third floors shows how the wall and steps have been plastered to a smooth finish but the color has been deliberately left uneven to contrast with the smooth brown wood on the parquet floor and table.

Inke Gallery House J

At the heart of the gallery house, the courtyard void brings light and air into the surrounding spaces. Water trickles down an installation composed of stone-like brass and copper objects affixed to horizontal brass rods to a swallow pool of water at the bottom. The element of ornamentation and the soothing sounds of water add visual and kinetic interest to the space. Folding wood-framed doors open to the dining room, another visual feast.

Inke Gallery House K

Set between two brick boxes, the protruding entrance bay of the house is clad in stones painted white to distinguish it from the rest of the structure. Vertical wood-framed windows inserted in the brick walls on each side of the entrance, on all three levels, add symmetry to the façade. Concrete canopies shade the windows from the tropical sun.

Inke Gallery House L

Inke Gallery House M

Juxtaposition is the hallmark of the interior of the gallery house: well-chosen, beautiful, man-made objects are placed against clean, tasteful, and contemporary backdrops to produce a sanctuary for the senses. Terracotta pots, water shimmering down a blind-like installation, sculptural plants in a simple vase, and a painted glass screen add color, texture—and sophistication—to the gallery.

Inke Gallery House N

The section view reveals the compact design of the multi-functional gallery house. Set on the entire buildable area—220 square meters—of the 335-square meter site, the structure extends all the way to the site lines on three sides.

Inke Gallery House O

Wood-framed lights placed flush to the ceiling in the double-height entrance foyer give the impression of skylights cut into the ceiling. The modern chandelier is simply a circular band of tempered steel.

Inke Gallery House P

A narrow corridor on the second floor, flanked by the void of the entrance foyer on one side and the void of the courtyard on the other, bridges the two sides of the gallery.

Inke Gallery House Q

Another section view of the gallery house.

Inke Gallery House R

The bedrooms in the house, like this one, are minimalist cocoons lit by the tall windows on the façade. Simple hand-dyed linens dress the beds. Translucent glass panels form the walls of the wardrobe behind the headboard.