The Art of Living


Budi Lim Architects has recently completed an opulent modernist house in Jakarta. The house draws its luxury from its grandeur, the owner’s amazing art collection, and its thoughtfully health-conscious design. Accompanied by Budi Lim himself, we took a look around the new house.

Sandwiched in between a business district and a residential area, the house has a strategic location for the mobile family members. The architecture plan is mindful of the house’s position, which has high-rise developments at its front and low-rise houses at its back. “The house is designed with the chance of converting it to an office in the future, fully or partially, since the building permit allows it,” says Budi. For one, the partitions are not bearing walls, so the structure can be adapted for other functions.

The façade gives an immediate impression of modern architecture, a style that started in the early 20th century and flourished after World War II. The design of the residence is like an open book; it starts from the front yard, follows through to the rooftop, and reveals more of the family’s story as you make your way through the house.

Approaching the house from the main gate, we were presented with the option of three entrances, as opposed to the typical single grand door. The first option is the Tulung Agung Marmer stairway leading to the swimming pool area. The second is via the elevator at the back of the house and the third is by another staircase that was an instant wow-factor. Budi explained that these “black ribbon” stairs were inspired by a scene in the Chinese kung fu movie The House of Flying Daggers.

On the ground floor, you find the living rooms, dining room, pantry and gallery in a single open-plan space with wide windows facing the front of the house. The ceiling is four-metres high, but the flanks in the overhead recycled teak bars add an illusion of added height.

Budi made visual manipulations with the floor-to-ceiling windows, allowing many things to be visible through straight lines of sight from each corners of the house. Also thanks to these windows, the front yard is seamlessly integrated as an extended part of the interior.

The two living room areas are located side by side. One sits at the end of the room, with a mix of sofas and armchairs, and provides a first taste of the stunning artworks. Spread in random setting, rather than a symmetrical one, allows the art collections to be enjoyed from many points in the house for a visually enticing experience. Meanwhile in the other living room, there is a television set hidden inside a cabinet and a large L-shaped sofa for the family to lounge around.

Behind this area is the dining room that sits next to the pantry. Here the family can gather for lunch or dinner, while enjoying views of the house and its artworks. As this is where the family spends most of their time, the owner placed Rooster, a painting by Mangu Putra, the first of his collection.

The family’s love for contemporary art continues throughout the house that’s peppered with many fine works of modern day Indonesian artists. By the poolside, sits a private art gallery where the owner would showcase his collection of paintings. The gallery is only 4.5 metres wide, but the room has a monumental atmosphere with a six-metre high ceiling and a length of 17 metres. The vast wall acts as a display panel with paintings by Heri Dono at the top and Mangu Putra’s works at eye level. At the far end of the gallery there is a sculpture by Dolorosa Sinaga, Sufi Dancer, which draws the eye.

While the ground floor serves as the public zone, the upper floors are home to the private zones with five bedrooms. “The house was designed with the growth of the family in mind. The children are now young adults. They will start their own families in time, but this house will still remain open for them. This is why each level has been designed like a private apartment, where both children have a high mezzanine as a personalised living room as well as their own bedrooms,” explains Budi.

The master bedroom is located on the first floor. It has a symmetrical interior design with parquet flooring that adds warmth to the room. It’s connected to a walk-in closet and the master bathroom. The daughter shares the first floor with her parents — her bedroom is located at the far end of this level, which grants her the desired privacy. “She has many friends that she likes to hang out with, so I designed theatrical private living areas that connect to her bedroom; one at the side of her bedroom and another one on the mezzanine level,” shares Budi.

The living room on the mezzanine level is also connected to a small rooftop garden. A bigger rooftop garden is located on the top floor where the family can host barbeque parties or casual brunches.

The son has the whole second floor to himself. There is a game room, with a TV set and a pool table, where he can spend time with family and invite his friends over. This room connects to the hallway, which doubles as a library. Next to his bedroom, there is a small gallery with a mezzanine that can be used as a guest bedroom.

Despite the heat, the climate inside the house is comfortable thanks to the underfloor cooling system and the space program that allow cross ventilation between the open areas at the front and the back of the house. The open space at the back has a vertical garden on one side and a pond, which helps cool the air. More vertical gardens are located near the front fence wall and beside the ramp to the basement.

The house has been designed to bring an effect of grandeur to achieve a luxurious feel through space, volume and the overall experience. It also provides the practical benefit of improved air circulation. “The house is made to promote good health as much as possible, because being healthy is a luxury,” adds Budi.

The family can also stay healthy doing laps in the swimming pool, which is sandwiched in between two aquascapes. Besides adding an aesthetic value to the landscape, they also function as a water filtering system for the pool.

This magnificent house is a response to the owners’ lifestyle with a thoughtful balance of communal and private spaces, and acts as a perfect backdrop for the family’s impressive art collection. Extensive use of reclaimed materials, such as the teak staircase; natural cross-ventilation and climate systems create a healthy environment with eco-friendly credentials.

Like this story, share to your friends
Barbara Hahijary
Barbara earned her bachelor's degree in architecture from the Interior Architecture Program of the University of Indonesia in 2013. Historical or heritage buildings, as well as utilitarian design, fascinates her as it is the interaction between people and architecture that remains her favourite topic to explore. Besides architecture, her interests include design, handcrafts, literature and social issues.

Related Stories