Introverse House / Core Design Workshop
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Manufacturers: Benima Fans, Bluescope, Breezway, Hume Prima Fiber Cement, panasonic, Sorento
Chun Hooi Tan
“I am a Malaysian Hikikomori, and this is my story” is an online article that emerged during the lockdown times of 2020 that tells the story of an extreme introvert with her social discrimination and how she sees people following society’s invented norms where one has to act a certain way to be accepted. It wasn’t until the Covid-19 pandemic hit with its lockdowns that she felt for the first time in her life like she was alive and normal, at least in the eyes of society, because she lived fully as before while others struggled. coping to just be home. Introverse was born out of this social context, where the rights in our social perception could have been wrong and the wrongs were right. If we could let go of the influence of social perception in our minds, we might be able to find new ways to progress instead of wandering on the status quo.
Introverse is a newly renovated home for myself, an architect, my wife, a contemporary art gallery owner and avid collector of contemporary Malaysian art, and our four year old son. In 2019, I was diagnosed with vocal cord cancer and since then I have learned to accept my introverted character. My wife and I started our own project in 2020, from inception, conceptualization, design and long-term construction, the project spanned the entire 2 years of the pandemic period. Remodeling a single-storey semi-detached house in a suburban township that was developed and built in the 1970s outside Kuala Lumpur, Introverse challenges social norms and tests a new way of life, a mode of life where a house is organized in the introverted manner, unlike normal outward-facing houses.
The architecture of Introverse takes precedence over the redefinition of the garden as a house. It all started with a full-height linear garden wall, suspended from a steel structure, hovering above the ground and running 10 feet from the perimeter fence, creating a new walled garden within a garden. Separated from the exterior garden, the interior garden, a mirror of ancient Chinese architecture or the Japanese Zen garden, sees a new purpose. It is an outdoor space where one can live without the constraints of security and privacy, a garden that one can use and enjoy at the same time. It is in this walled garden area that the wet rooms of the house, the kitchen and the bathrooms are located, loosely integrated without physical walls defining the individual areas.
On the other side of the garden, a linear cross-ventilation tunnel is created to detach the house from the adjacent neighbor. With a courtyard sitting in the middle like a fireplace, the individual rooms in this area are uniquely separated by permeable adjustable louvers and perforated metals, making this area another semi-outdoor space where the utility, fireplace, dining water and a playroom on the mezzanine are found.
All the mentioned semi-outdoor spaces are arranged inwards looking towards the heart of the house where the living room and the dining room are located, a space where we define the purpose of the houses. This central space is flanked by two bedrooms on either side and these three main rooms basically make up the house. Responding to both the architecture and the socio-cultural context, externally the house is covered with a new metal roof while retaining the original building profile, and internally the old complex layout of the house has been completely stripped and transformed into its most simple and minimal spaces.
The philosophy of minimalism is reflected in the house’s spatial organization and is further expressed in its material selections, architectural finishes, built-in features and interior furnishings to the curation of contemporary art around the house, and these define the spatial quality of housing it. Here, minimalism is not a style, but an architectural solution to our contemporary needs, standards and lifestyles. It is a formula for minimizing unnecessary elements in our lives, the habit of hoarding and the influence of social perception to live up to the expectations of others. In Introversive, we can be honest with ourselves, find our voice and define our own life, and that’s the essence of minimalism, our own version of minimalism.