Alvin Tan Photography

3 Courtyard House in Malaysia by O2 Design Atelier features a facade of perforated blocks

The 3 Courtyard House is veritable case study on Tropical terrace house design that considers both climate and context.

Designed by Malaysian Architecture practice, O2 Design Atelier, the 3 bedroom home redefines the typically dark and confined interiors of this typology into a bright and airy model that finds function and character via its facade of precast, perforated blocks.

Project Description

Most of typical terrace housing in Malaysia always having a deep interior space and narrow due to developer want to maximize the number of units within the plot of land. The challenge is to transform the existing dark and tight interior spaces with many partition walls and low ceilings.  Privacy, security and cost are the prime concerns for the house owner.

Drawings via archdaily

The main design idea is to insert in a series of 3 courtyards spaces into the house bringing in light and greenery and blurring the boundary between indoor and outdoor spaces by connecting the indoor space to nature.  

Upon entering the front foyer, you are greeted with the front courtyard opened to sky planted with tree. Once passed the main door the living and dining room are presented as a one big wide space. Open space planning linking between Living, Dining, courtyard and kitchen space allow the continues flow of spatial quality.   The Asian kitchen towards the rear of the house equipped wide sliding door for maximum ventilation. It opens up into the rear courtyard and the owner can cook while enjoying the greenery. Meanwhile the rear courtyard served as an outdoor terrace area for breakfast and afternoon tea where privacy is protected by a perimeter wall.

At the upper floor, one room has been converted to family and study area. Full height window and door has been used to create more visual and spatial connectivity between one space to another. On the first-floor natural light from the central courtyard flood into the master bedroom and family area. An extended balcony punch through the front courtyard from the master bedroom leading into the outdoor space. Visual connection is established from the balcony to the foyer space below through the courtyard.

The front facade is simplified version of the existing terrace house facade to have the continuous of language. We combine the aspect of privacy, security and aesthetic when designing the front vent block screen. The vent blocks partially filter out visibility into the house from the street while protecting the house from physical break-in. The screen casts geometrical beams of light and shadow onto the interior planes. The Precast wall has created light and shadow effect during the day time and lantern during the night.  The precast vent block also acts as a symbolic representation of the owner’s profession as a highway engineer who often design with precast structural components. 

Main strategy to achieve a good level of design for this project is to focus on the quality of space and natural light. Time and resources are spent on achieving the spatial quality instead of investing on expensive materials.

Finally, the architectural qualities are reached through thoughtful details, clean geometrical forms and the aspiration to achieve simplicity.