A dark-stained pergola projecting from a bold wood-clad box leads to the garage door but also diffuses sunlight and protects visitors from rain. The steps between the pillars take visitors along a short glass passage to the entrance. The wood-clad box houses a study on the first level and a bedroom on the second.
A striking double-height wood screen connects the two main volumes of the house. The slats on the lower part are spaced further apart to allow air to flow into the inner courtyard behind, while the upper half is more tightly slatted to moderate light entering the gallery on the second floor.
Designed for an extremely busy businessman who, at the end of a long, hectic day, likes to return to an oasis of calm where he can enjoy his collection of art and other pleasures of life, this house is located in a highly private and tranquil neighborhood, yet is not too far from the central business district of metropolitan Jakarta.
The house is set above street level, and both its elevation and distance from the front of the lot contribute to its serenity. Taking into consideration his client’s lifestyle and need for privacy, architect Kusuma Agustianto delved into the way art is made in order to gain inspiration for his design. While great attention has been placed on the division of public and private areas, circulation, efficiency, and the functional relationship between and among spaces, the architect also offers an artistic solution to the pragmatic concerns of everyday living by juxtaposing contrasting elements: light versus dark, high versus low, open versus closed, transparent versus massive, liquid versus solid.
The reflections from the pools in the courtyard and the sounds of the water weave an intimate spell over the house. The breakfast room and living room, at right angles to each other, open out to the courtyard.
The house is made up of five volumes: three laid out across the width of the lot in front—two main volumes separated by a central volume—and two flanking the main volumes at right angles at the back. Protruding from the front of the house, the two largest volumes dominate the façade. One, faced with dark-stained ulin wood, forms a massive box that demarcates the entrance. A wooden gateway under the box leads to the underground garage. Between the front of the box and the garage gate, steps running across the front of the house lead to the entrance foyer, set within the second box, which is painted white. Beyond the entrance foyer, steps lead visitors to the main level of the house, which is located on the second floor. Between the two projecting volumes is a lower, lattice-clad structure that connects the front of the house to the central courtyard behind and the rooms leading off it.
The two structures at the back of the house, at right angles to the dominant “boxes” in front, flank a central courtyard accessed by either sliding or pivoting glass doors. At the far end of the courtyard, the thin structure of the staircase becomes a visually exciting sculptural element.
A double-tiered pool, shaped in the form of the infinity symbol or the number eight, denoting “prosperity,” dominates the courtyard. From this pool, water flows into another, lower rectangular pool following the form of the courtyard itself. Four footstool palm trees emerge from the corners of the lower main pool, providing some shade and a colorful touch to what is otherwise a relatively austere courtyard, while a border of grass also adds a softening touch. Together the pools form a cool, soft, fluid water element at the heart of the house, while the open courtyard allows air and light to enter. A simple gable roof covers the U-shaped areas surrounding the courtyard, before meeting with the two main volumes at the front. Beyond the living room bordering one side of the courtyard, the entire space at the back of the house is an open area that includes a garden and swimming pool.
Sandwiched between the central courtyard and the swimming pool at the back of the house, the living room enjoys the benefits of both.
Placed in the very center of the courtyard, the prosperity pool, shaped in the form of the infinity symbol or the number eight, rises from the lower rectangular pool. Water flows from the upper to the lower pool. Four foot-stool palms provide shade and color to the austere courtyard.
From the courtyard, different angles produce different views into the rooms. Behind the simple glass-topped breakfast table, the kitchen is hidden behind the counter of the pantry. The series of floor-pivoted painted aluminum doors in the breakfast room swing open towards the courtyard, bringing elements of nature into the house.
Entrance to the house is up a short flight of steps located just behind the timber-framed structure on the front façade.
Low sloping stairs in this corridor ascend from the entrance foyer directly to the study and breakfast room. The corridor also connects the two main volumes of the house.
Located in the first dark volume on the left of the house is a study, pantry, breakfast area, and dining room on the first story and a bedroom and another study on the second story. The kitchen, laundry, and the maids’ bedrooms are also located in this left-hand volume. Arranged within the second, white volume is a guest room and service areas such as toilets. Beyond these, and dominating the white volume, is the master bedroom, which opens to a terrace beside the swimming pool at the back of the site. The level of the front and back parts of this section differ by half a story. Above the master bedroom, on the second floor, is another bedroom and a music room. The landing mid-level between the first and second levels opens out to a terrace. Another simple gable roof structure covers this section of the house.
A border of lush but low-maintenance water plants is used to soften the edge of the swimming pool near the wall at the back of the site. The pool extends the length of the master bedroom and living room combined—two-thirds the width of the site—forming a cool oasis in a high-density urban area. An extension from the master bedroom forms an outdoor terrace. A low wooden bench along the side of the living room is a handy seat for viewing the pool.
From the back yard of the house, the three volumes are clearly visible. While the master bedroom and living room correspond to the length of the swimming pool, the third volume, accommodating the formal dining room, opens to a grass yard.
A sliding wooden door separates the breakfast area from the formal dining room. The breakfast area is connected to the pantry through an opening cut between the rooms. While the casual breakfast room is equipped with a modern steel frame glass top table and modern versions of Arne Jacobsen’s Model 3107 chair, the adjoining formal dining room is furnished with heavier, more stately wood furniture.
The first floor plan of the house shows the main rooms in relation to the central courtyard and prosperity pools and to the swimming pool against the boundary wall at the back.
The rooms towards the back of the house are able to enjoy views of the open space: the formal dining room faces the garden, while the living room and the master bedroom both face the swimming pool. But the most commanding views from the central courtyard and the front of the house and the garden in the back, can be seen from the living room on the first floor and the gallery on the second floor, undoubtedly the most prominent spaces in the house.
PONDOK INDAH, JAKARTA
ARCHITECT KUSUMA AGUSTIANTO
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