by Jerry ElengicalSep 15, 2021
Among the vast rice paddy fields and lush forested hills surrounding the town of Ubud on the Indonesian island of Bali, a mass of sinuous forms reminiscent of the peaks and troughs of sound waves crowns a holiday home that blends into the natural landscape. This geometric similarity combined with the Greek heritage of one of the two clients, were the main factors which granted the residence its current name - Alpha House. As per the team at Alexis Dornier, the firm responsible for the residential architecture, the client woke up one morning and was inspired to name it such after viewing a picture of the house captured during construction, which highlighted the roof structure's resemblance to alpha waves.
The home was built for an entrepreneur and a former finance professional who had reconnected after long careers and were looking for a place away from their hectic lifestyles. The Indonesia-based firm elaborates, “It was intended to serve as a source of inspiration for people to pursue their dreams, take risks and try different things outside their current life or career paths. The house is used as an Airbnb as well as the clients' private residence when they visit Bali.”
Oriented in an east-west configuration to ensure privacy and facilitate self-shading, Alpha House comprises two stacked volumes with contrasting expressions of forms, culminating in a dynamic façade design. The lower volume, accessed through the garage at the eastern end, is a regular, cuboidal mass.
Large glass doors lead into the open kitchen housed within a vast double-height volume that also contains dining and living spaces, as well as a lounge at the eastern end of the structure; the spaces open into the pool at the property’s southern end. With walls cladded in grey kerobokan (a local Indonesian sandstone), this cavernous space forms the core of the internal layout. Illuminated by clerestory windows sheltered beneath a fluid wood-panelled ceiling, light filtering into the space casts fluid shadows in accordance with the ceiling geometries.
Furnishings in worn dark wood complement the textured monochrome finishes on enclosing surfaces. A pair of floating stairs at opposing ends of the dining area frame the interior design and imbue it with strong bilateral symmetry.
The upper floor extends this uniformity with a pair of adjacent housing units - mirrored in their layouts, containing two bedrooms each. Linked by a continuous balcony on the outside and separated by the void of the main living area on the inside, the spatial arrangement is simple and repetitive, allowing the fluid, organic architecture of the roof to take centrestage.
Shedding light on the roof’s design, the architects mention in an official release, “Grid shells have always done it for us, as they suggest interesting and new ways to define roofs." In this project, the grid shell is composed of a steel frame clad with asphalt shingles and beneath it, twisting ceilings finished in curved wood panelling wrap around the bedrooms. "In the case of the 'Alpha House'," the architects continue, "the walls become the roofs and create a silhouette, consisting of an iconic and rhythmic pattern that sticks."
On the ground floor below, warped images of the wavy roof enclosure are formed in a rectangular pool design. Sun beds and parasols populate the wooden deck running along the pool’s edge. Landscape design features, hanging creepers, and planters are closely integrated into the architectural forms, making the structure one with its scenery while allowing the clients and the property’s periodic guests to immerse themselves in nature.
The house merges elements of traditional Balinese architecture with the geometries of the rolling landscape to create a picturesque setting for a luxe tropical island getaway. Reflecting on the journey that brought Alpha House to fruition, the architects conclude: “Our office culture is one of dialogue, common goals, and not so much about right and wrong. Together with builders, artisans and manufacturers, this project has been one continuous opportunity for personal growth.”
Name: Alpha House
Location: Ubud, Bali, Indonesia
Area: 280 sqm
Architectural Design: Alexis Dornier
Construction: Surya Kembar