During the property boom and development of satellite cities on the outskirts of Jakarta during the 80s and 90s, there was a huge market demand for garden houses and country-style houses in the real estate industry.
Parallel with aggressive planning of new highways and toll roads, people would go further away from the city center in pursuance of their dream (and affordable) homes. The mindset was: the further you are away from the city, the bigger the lawn you can afford.
However, the economic crisis played a role in taking away those dreams. Road network development could not keep up with the vast property development. Traffic congestion killed the enjoyment of having the garden houses. For people earning their living in the city center, they could waste a third to a quarter of their day stuck in the traffic.
Today, living in close proximity to the city center is much more desirable for a lot of people. They are willing to live on a much smaller urban lot.
Generally, the concept of the garden house simply meant having a huge lawn in the backyard without exploring the relationship between indoor and outdoor space. Conceptually, the house was more introvert and separated from the exterior.
Some architects offered interesting modern approaches in re-inventing the garden house concept for urban application. Adi Purnomo blurred the boundary between the house and landscape in his works in Ciganjur and Jl. Tangkuban Perahu, Jakarta. Both houses elaborately exercise the relationship of interior and exterior spaces.
The Ciganjur house reversed the concept “house in the garden” to “garden in the house” by converting the whole lot into a single house experience. It is a modern interpretation of the compound house concept in Balinese architecture where the rooms are not contained in a single building but distributed throughout the lot.
The house itself employs a simple house form with minimal decoration. Outdoor spaces become the interior of the house, where lush softscape is the main decoration element. Living rooms also serve as terraces to maximize enjoyment of the landscape.
The house at Jl. Tangkuban Perahu took a different direction. While the house maintains the image of a single house, it also integrates the landscape in an unprecedented way. Not only the garden is stacked and interwoven with the house, but also became the facade.
The vertical gardens create the sense of privacy while allowing the house to breathe. The main stairway has a dual function that performs as seating for any social event.
This intimate relationship between the landscape and the house provides good natural cross ventilation and day lighting. It also increases the water retention ability of the house, so it dramatically reduces excess water out to the surrounding neighborhood.
Essentially, in designing a dwelling, aesthetic consideration is becoming less important. The interrelationship between spaces and its contribution to the environment are more valuable. Although both of these houses are definitely not bug-free, but the experience of tropical living is maximized.
All images are courtesy from Adi Purnomo
Was published in Jakarta Post on Sunday December 16, 2007