Architecture / Interior /

Juxtaposing Two World Heritages

Civilisation has never stopped growing. Every day, we see new designs and innovations that have been made to improve our lives. The word “new” in this context has replaced older creations often considered old fashioned or no longer valid. However, old works have their own values and virtues. Some that are really good will become classics and reach a position as pieces of heritage for our civilisation. At the Permata Ayung Private Estate in Ubud, Bali; Indonesian heritage design is not only well preserved, but has also been contemporized with an old European aesthetic. It makes the whole site unique, one of a kind and up to date.

Photo By Antonius Widjaya

Juxtaposing two world heritages in a single design concept is an approach favoured by architects and interior designers around the world when creating new forms. This kind of juxtaposition is exactly what was found when iD visited the Permata Ayung Private Estate. Set on five hectares divided by the Ayung River in Ubud, this resort has one of the best natural vistas in Bali.

Almost everything is unique when it comes to this property. Instead of building a commercial resort; the owner–Henk de Vries, who is also the designer–chose to build homes that respected nature and the contours of the land. De Vries paid homage to ancient Indonesian traditional homes that have been influenced by the Hindu-Buddhist, Islamic, Chinese and European traditions, as well as by Balinese tradition, all of which were implemented in the architecture and interior. His organic design approach resulted in nine classic traditional Indonesian houses that have been spread throughout the site.

The highlight here includes classic joglo houses with inspirations that have come from all around Java. The grand Winong Pati that overlooks the river, for example, is made of massive teak wood and once belonged to a powerful aristocratic family from the Lamongan region of East Java. Its aristocratic status can be seen in the number of steps on the inverse pyramid structure, known as the tumpang sari, which have been beautifully carved with intricate details. The Winong Pati joglo is also connected to one of the biggest suites in the resort and has its own large private terrace, an open air shower and an impressive bathtub that is made from gigantic carved boulders.


The joglo is connected to a bar and a private cinema that have been situated under another house dubbed Blora. No usual joglo, the Blora House has a unique roof featuring a stylised kala head known as Bhoma, a Balinese Hindu god of the earth. Inside the room, we can find a beautiful four-poster bed as its focal point as well as a spacious bath and closet area.

There’s also another beautiful joglo from the city of Kudus. This fine specimen, which once belonged to a wealthy merchant, sits on a top of a downstairs building, connected by a traditional staircase. It has also been appointed with an upstairs balcony that features a stunning view of the Ayung River. A distinguishing feature of this house is the use of only one entrance door, in contrast with other joglos, which typically uses three entryways. The decorative carvings here are also distinct and are dominated by a low relief with oral motifs and vegetal Arabesque, which has been clearly influenced by Malay-Islamic aesthetics from the 16th to 18th centuries.

Of the many great features of the Permata Ayung Private Estate, a structure with early Austronesian architecture stands out: The Gladak. Rectangular in shape, Gladak sits upon columns that create an open space below. In the past, this open space was used to shelter livestock at night. The most noteworthy characteristic of Gladak is the use of massive columns and a pair of large, long parallel beams hewn from a single tree trunk. The resort has transformed the open space below into a semi-open dining and lounge area to relax.
As a Dutchman, Henk de Vries also showed his playful side by merging two large lumbung, or Indonesian-style rice barns, into joined villas. He changed the storage space into rooms with double beds. Perfect for the younger crowd, the interiors of these lumbung is smartly designed to fit the small space. These barns are joined at their centre with a semi-open space that serves as a lounge and kitchen.

The juxtaposition of two world heritages is shown in the interior design. With a strong Indonesian heritage reflected in each house, de Vries infused the interior design with his European cultural heritage to create a distinctive balance. Many rooms are decorated eclectically, with, for example, an antique Indonesian four-poster bed standing amid European-style brown leather chaises and sofas–and even a classic cuckoo clock. Some houses have vintage colonial chandeliers with European touches such as a book nook or large-yet-hidden walk-in closets.


De Vries collaborated with Dutch furniture designer Egbert Pos, who lives in Jepara, to create contemporary furniture to further explore this juxtaposition. Pos, who loves to work with organic wood, created a series of interesting and varied pieces, from a wardrobe, to tables, to bathroom cabinets and more. Many of his works, such as a dramatic dining table in the restaurant, involving resin that glows with light.
One of his best highlights is featured at the Garuda House and is called an irregular pyramid wall. Massive three- dimensional pieces of teak have been cut and fit to create an asymmetric pattern that has also used on the closet doors in this house. He also framed the bathroom mirror with a pattern inspired by jasmine flowers that is often found in the palatial wall carvings of Palembang. This frame is intensified by gold leaves inspired by the finishings of Balinese carvings.

Another grand juxtaposition also can be seen in the spa, where contemporary and cutting edge buildings have been built using mostly bamboo. On the banks of the Ayung River, this contemporary looking spa compound is divided into a semi-open salon and three-storey building that includes two single treatment rooms, a sauna plus a steam room. The last large building at the edge of the river is a treatment room for a couples that has echoes of a European cathedral ceiling.

Created by Elora Hardy, the daughter of renowned silver designer John Hardy, the spa used bamboo for sustainability, flexibility and strength. The result is a beautiful, functional and whimsical spa compound that stands in juxtaposition with the surrounding nature.
Henk de Vries is also known for his antique collection, featuring Neolithic fertility figures from East Java, terracotta statues from the Majapahit empire, Cornelis Le Mair’s paintings and much more. Pieces can be found throughout the Permata Ayung Private Estate, either in the gardens or in rooms.
This establishment is a one-of-a- kind design gem. Heritage has not only been finely preserved, but also put in such contrast that it creates a new, inspirational look. Sometimes we just need to look to the past to see how its values can enrich our designs and make them timeless.


Project Data

Company Name
PT. Griya Leidseplein Beheer

Number of Rooms
A total of 12 units of villas/ traditional houses

Room sizes
Master suite
Winong Pati with en suite bathroom and living room (460 sqm)

Garuda House
4 bedrooms with en suite bathrooms (548 sqm)

Kudus House
2 bedrooms with ensuite bathrooms (300 sqm)

Blora House
1 bedroom with ensuite bathroom (250 sqm)

Gladak House
1 bedroom with ensuite bathroom and kitchen (154 sqm)

Bridal or Honeymoon suite
1 bedroom with ensuite bathroom and kitchen (143 sqm)

Lumbung Dua
2 bedrooms with semi outdoor bathrooms (252 sqm)

Site Area
5 hectares

Gross Floor Area
2910 sqm

Architecture Consultant
By owner

Main Contractor
In-house team

Interior Design Consultant and Contractor
In-house team (with assistance from PT Epos modern Indonesia)

Lighting & Landscape Consultant
In-house team

Civil, Structural & M&E Consultant In-house team

Spa Consultant Nadja Nufer (spa creator Elora Hardy )

Started Construction 2010
2014 and mid-2016 (for commercial)

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