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Tirtawisata House

Tirtawisata House A

Tall “fountain” grass not only masks the structure of the garage below it and the reflecting pool in front of the terrace but also filters views into the living room and enlivens the monochromatic paintwork on the exterior.

Halfway through building a house mimicking the so-called Mediterranean style popular among the upper middle class of Jakarta, house owner Dharma Tirtawisata met architect Antony Liu. Impressed by Liu’s modernist architectural designs, he asked the architect to reconfigure his house under construction. Although work on the house had, by this time, reached the second floor, Liu agreed to redesign the house, salvaging what he could of the earlier blueprints. The result is a bold, light-colored concrete and glass cubist sculpture which combines comfort and flexibility with dramatic impact.Vertical sunshades and concrete balconies relieve the starkness of the exterior, along with judiciously placed outdoor “gardens.” Inside, contemporary materials—concrete, glass, stone, wood—are used in a bold but neutral palette. The materials, embellishments, and furnishings together portray restrained elegance.

Tirtawisata House B

In contrast to the cube’s stark white and pale gray walls, architectural elements outside the house employ dark colors: large gray stone pavers, andesit candi stone walls, and a dark-stained merbau wood gate.

Tirtawisata House C

Large windows on both sides of the living room—shorter on the west side to reduce heat from the sun’s rays—create a play of inside–outside. The living room enjoys views of the grass garden on one side and the pool on the other. The transparent glass floor bordering the pool side brings light into the dining room below.

Tirtawisata House D

Tirtawisata House E

Functional minimalism—”less is more”—defines the sparse dining room next to the pool. An extra-long modernist table set against clean walls and floors dominates the space. Light shines through the double-height openings on the pool side and from the transparent glass floor above.

Tirtawisata House F

Designed for adaptability, the study on the third floor can easily be converted into another bedroom, its built-in armoire serving as a wardrobe.

The architect’s first task, in conjunction with colleague Ferry Ridwan, was to free the house from the use of a conventional gable roof, thus allowing him to plan a new geometry: a three-story house composed of two slightly unequal rectangles, one rectangle shifted to the front to allow for an above-ground swimming pool at the back left corner of the site. A staircase, placed almost exactly in the middle of the house, serves as a spatial pivot as well as a connector for the two rectangles.

Although at first glance the house resembles a somewhat strange shoebox, it is, in fact, a complex structure encased within rectangular planes of walls, the side walls covered in paras limestone, the remainder plastered naturally or painted a light gray. The planes are cut out at certain places for openings that allow light and views into the rooms. The void above the swimming pool on the first floor acts as a lightwell that brings sunlight into all three floors of the house. The dining room on the first floor, the living room on the second floor, and the bedrooms on the third floor of the house all face the swimming pool and benefit from this light tunnel. One side of the living room floor is formed of transparent reinforced glass to further allow light to filter into the level below. The design of the house thus organizes the spaces in a pragmatic manner, and at the same time restructures the way light interacts with the spaces.

Tirtawisata House G

Dark-stained full-length wardrobes form abundant storage along a corridor tucked behind the wall of the master bedroom and can be entered from either side.

Tirtawisata House H

A shard of light from a slit in the canopy plays on the bold black bathtub offset by light-colored walls and flooring.

Tirtawisata House I

Transparent glass meets Citatah marble in this stunning floor in the living room.

Tirtawisata House J

Aluminum louvers on all levels of the house moderate light and air. The marble floor demarcates the living room seating area.

Tirtawisata House K

A platform bed flanked by two tall Japanese lamps is the focal point in the master bedroom. The wall behind conceals the full-length wardrobes and the passageway to the bathroom.

Tirtawisata House L

The front elevation (above) and side elevation (below) indicate the cubist theme of the big bold house.

Tirtawisata House M

Overlooking the “fountain” grass on the garage roof garden, the guest bedroom on the third floor does double duty as a gallery. Teguh Ostenrik’s large bronze sculpture, “As a Rock,” makes a bold statement among the simple modern furniture.

Tirtawisata House N

The plans of the first floor (above) and second floor (below) show the position of the two slightly unequal rectangles, with the central staircase serving as a spatial pivot and connector. The dining room on the first floor, the living room on the second, and the two bedrooms on the third all face the swimming pool and receive light from its void.

Tirtawisata House O

What looks like a two-story building is actually three. At night, uplights highlight the second and third floors.

Tirtawisata House P

The terrace on the second floor acts as a transition area between the inside and out. Here, the dark and coarse materials of the exterior meet the smooth and light-colored surfaces of the interior.

The house is entered via a small terrace on the second floor at the top of a flight of stairs leading from the driveway. A longitudinal reflecting pool buffers the entrance from the driveway. Beyond the entrance, the second floor acts as a kind of piano nobile, and it is here that the semi-public spaces are located. This floor is largely taken up with the formal living room, which enjoys an exclusive view, on one side, of the highly unusual grass “garden” above the garage and, on the other side, the swimming pool through full-height glass windows. An informal living room also occupies this floor.

The central staircase leads down to the service areas of the house on the first floor, including the garage, which is partly submerged below the grass roof garden, and the longitudinal above-ground swimming pool, enclosed on two sides by a high block wall. The rectangular dining room opens out to the pool through tall glass doors. Adjacent to it is the kitchen. At the narrow end of the pool is an exercise room.

The private areas of the house, including the master bedroom, a guest bedroom-cum-gallery, and a study, are all placed on the third floor of the house, again accessed by the central staircase.