DRA House by D-Associates
D-Associates has designed the DRA House on a beautiful spot on the island of Bali in Indonesia. This enormous residence offers just under 11,000 square feet of lush living spaces that interconnect between outdoor and indoor spaces.
Boutique resort and villa design developments on the island of Bali are well-known for their extravagant attempts to stage a lush tropical getaway embellished with reproductions of craftsmanship associated with the exotic ‘Balinese’ atmosphere. Against this backdrop, D-Associates’ pursue of a humble sense of home away from home in Bali is a rare undertaking. The brief is simple, to design a villa for an extended Indonesian family in Sanur, one of the most iconic Southern Balinese settlements and the island’s most established tourist destinations. Not dealing with the Western world’s imagination of a somewhat ‘Balinese’ exoticism, here we are encountering a more subtle appreciation of the calm tropical landscape of Sanur. The villa is envisioned as a family retreat set in a tropical landscape, a contrast to their Jakarta living, while learning from a particular aspect of spatial configuration of Bali’s indigenous dwelling architecture: an emphasis in breaking up the volume of a house and in blurring the inside and outside spaces.
On a long rectangular shape 1277 M2 site, the main structure of the two-story villa is located near the long southern side, while creating a generous open area of pool and lawn on the northern side. This configuration allows all the rooms in the villa — four bedrooms each equipped with its own bathrooms, living, dining, and kitchen to all be opened on both their south and northern sides (avoiding the direct east west sun direction of the tropic) with the lawn and the pool becoming the main focal points throughout the villa. From the neighborhood street, the considerably tall massing of the main volume of the villa is set back and scaled down through a strategic configuration of the front part of the site where an enclosed carport area, a landscaped front yard (with a pond) and a foyer pavilion with a flat wooden roof act as a humble entry court to the house. Further toning down the volumetric composition, each of the structural elements are covered by a distinct natural building material — the heavy grey river stonewall as the carport enclosure, the timber columns and screen of the foyer, the unfinished concrete pathway softened by the landscaped garden and the pond.
The foyer pavilion is a reference to the aling-aling element in Balinese dwelling compound, a transitional screen element where the act of entering one’s house is emphasized as a kind of procession that marks where the private space of a house begins. In this project, D-Associates spatializes this traditionally surface like architectural element into a small foyer space enclosed and supported by a row of recycled ulin timber (previously used as railway track sleepers).
The main structure of the villa inside is divided into two volumes of space: the upper level area is configured as a floating dark wooden box sheltering over the lower level area, a contrastingly open and light transparent volume that acts as a platform of family living activities. This strategy again tones down the massing of the villa in order to maintain a sense of home and human scale. The heavy tone of the dark colored ulin timber and plywood finishing of the upper volume introduces warmness into the villa from the strong tropical sun. The lower volume appears more as a platform of space that merges with the pool and the garden due to the lightness of its enclosing elements: the pilotis like row of thin round concrete columns painted in white and the floor to ceiling panels of glass windows that can be thoroughly opened. This configuration is also a modern articulation of the rumah panggung (wooden house on poles) typology, a common vernacular dwelling type built in tropical region in Southeast Asia.
An anchor to the whole composition is a two-story height sheltered terrace breaking the long massing of the villa in the middle. This tall terrace space is a spatial bridge that connects the upper level (which contains all the private bedroom units) and the lower level (which contains all the living spaces), the internal living spaces and the surrounding landscape. It amplifies a sense of lightness and openness into this otherwise large structure (with a total floor area of 1013 M2). By using the same finishing materials indoor and outdoor, the boundary between the inside and outside is blurred, maximizing the family’s experiencing of retreating into the landscape of Bali.