The barrel-shaped form of Bewboc House rises dramatically above its neighbours in a residential area of Kuala Lumpur. More similar to a modern art piece than a residence, the design is a renovation of a traditional structure that followed the form of the other homes in the area. Bewboc House was designed by Malaysian architect Fabian Tan, who runs a multi-disciplinary design studio of the same name. Full of personality and clever surprises, this delightful home is a refreshing take on minimal residential architecture.
Bewboc House is comprised of a series of sculptural forms bound together by a wraparound terrace. The defining form is the barrel-vaulted extension, added to an under-utilised corner of the site. Comprised entirely of cast-in-place concrete, there is something artistic and playful in the architecture, perhaps owing to how surprising it feels to find this shape among the sea of usual square and A-frame residences. From Fabian Tan, “The new form is intended to be simple but bold; contrasting it with the existing fabric of tropical suburban homes.”
The dwelling’s unique extension is certainly bold, and not just because of how it looks from the exterior. Owing to the unconventional shape of the structure, the look and feel of the interior is quite different than the usual family home. Upon entering through an overlarge set of black wooden doors, one is transported into Fabian Tan’s delightful design. A long, double-height room stretches the length of the home addition. The walls and floors mirror the exterior; the exposed concrete leaves no question about the structural integrity. The styling of this building has a Bauhaus vibe to it; it is all about true materiality.
The great room in Bewboc House includes a living room, dining area, and kitchen. Towards the centre of the room one’s eye is drawn to the ceiling, where a small office is lofted above the ground floor. Fully exposed to the room below, the concrete podium appears to be floating in air. Surprise moments of delight are woven in to several aspects of the design, from the way the curvilinear form turns into the existing square dwelling to the strip of balcony where one can sit above the entry doors. A particular highlight is the half-circle window on the second level. Carved from a large portion of the concrete structure, the odd-shaped opening is a playful nod to the overall shape of the home expansion.
Each room of the dwelling is expertly oriented so as to take advantage of natural light and access to outdoor terraces. On the ground floor, a wall of windows opens the entire great room to the lush green lawn. At the front of the home, the floor-to-ceiling doors create an indoor-outdoor environment in the living room. An assortment of windows ensures every area of the home has a view of green space. The windows also help with air circulation; aided by the shape of the building, air flow is maximised and the dwelling is cooled naturally.
Fabian Tan’s design a lovely example of the unique forms minimalist architecture can take. The dwelling is anything but predictable, yet the simplicity in form and materiality express minimalism in its purest form. However you want to look at it, Bewboc House is an absolute delight.