Architecture / Interior /

Tour the British Ambassador’s Eclectic Penthouse

For the British ambassador in Indonesia, Moazzam Malik, and his wife, Rachel; a perfect home is full of people, noise and laughter, along with sitting around a large table, eating good food and sharing stories and life with family and friends. While it is a home that might be chaotic or cluttered, it is also peaceful and calm at the same time. The newly built British residence in Jakarta has exactly that vibe. Even more, it is well-designed.

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Photo by Bagus Tri Laksono

Situated inside the embassy compound in the vicinity of Patra Kuningan, South Jakarta, on 1.5 hectares, the complex was completed in 2013 and officially opened by Prince Andrew during his last visit to Jakarta. With a size twice as large as its predecessor on Jl. MH. Thamrin, the new embassy is 3800 sqm and includes the ambassador’s residence, recreational facilities, and beautiful landscape design.

The renowned US-based architectural and engineering firm HOK was appointed to design the sustainable embassy compound in all its aspects. Inspired by a spiral, the design folds around a central courtyard and twists upwards and outwards to form the embassy’s public entrance and give a tranquil ambiance. HOK, which is known for designing everything from skyscrapers to airports, used locally sourced black granite and metal cladding for the cantilevered canopy. From afar, the embassy appears as if it’s been carved from a single piece of black stone.

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The way to the residence is graced by a series of beautiful Javanese wood carvings that adorn the hallway to the entrance. Situated above the embassy office, the residence is done using a modern urban approach that gives respect to space and natural light. Taking the form of a one-floor penthouse-style apartment, the residence has a large formal sitting area juxtaposed against a dining room and is surrounded by big windows and is connected to a terrace.

When we talked to Rachel Malik, she said us that the embassy and residence had been built and designed prior to their arrival. “A British design team called FCO Services came to Jakarta and worked on furnishing this residence. They chose the sofas, dining table, colour scheme, and furniture throughout the apartment. We saw this modern-style apartment upon our arrival and decided that we wanted to inject a more eclectic British twist combining old antique furniture with contemporary designs and a touch of Indonesia. This also allowed us to incorporate some of the furniture from the previous residence in Menteng.”

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The design character reflects the personality of the ambassador and his wife. It has a vibe of London sophistication and the warmth of the countryside while blending in perfect harmony through the way they did the interior. This shown in their private quarters, where mixed furniture, from a Philippe Stark Louis Ghost chair and Edwardian armchair circa 1904, sit with a Paddington Bear, as well as with Emma Bridgewater and quirky Orla Kiely ceramics.

The private quarters are divided into a living room and five bedrooms, including a master bedroom that has access to the terrace. Lead by decor items that echo the life journey of the couple, I found a combination of oriental bric-a-brac sitting with their British counterparts. The highlight here includes Rachel’s private basket collection, with items from around the world.

“I bought my first basket as a teenager in Botswana in Southern Africa in 1984, and that same basket has moved with me to every home I have ever lived in. Of course, it is with us in Jakarta. I love baskets. They can be large, small, tightly woven, loosely woven. There’s something about the texture, colours and weave that I just love. We hiked up to Wae Rebo in Flores last April. The women there made incredibly beautiful baskets to collect their coffee beans from the trees. One woman kindly agreed to sell me her ‘working basket’ as she was in the process of making a new one. This is perhaps now my most favorite basket, as it reflects the reality of a woman’s life in rural Flores.”

This is without a doubt, not just an ambassadorial residence, but a home that showcases great eclectic British style.

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