CLOISTER HOUSE by Formwerkz Architects

Listening to the rain in the courtyard.

Project Specs


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Appreciation towards Formwerkz Architects for providing the following description:

该项目位于马来西亚新山市的空闲农庄中,是设计团队为业主和他的大家庭建造的住宅,业主既追求共享的生活方式,又十分重视隐私和安全。业主一家经常聚会,因此需要举办大型派对的宽敞空间以及小型聚会的舒适空间。全家从新加坡搬回来后,对生活在开阔的乡村感到兴奋,同时又对安全问题表示担忧。面对基地周围的环境,设计团队本能地被牢固且平坦的建筑吸引。基地面积巨大,因此设计团队决定建造单层宅第,并参考了Geoffrey Bawa在科伦坡33巷的住宅以及公元2世纪庞贝古城的牧神之家,它们在方案早期起到重要作用。

The house is built for a client and his extended family who seeks a communal way of living, but cherishes privacy and security in leisure farm estate, Johor Bahru. The family entertains frequently and needed the house to be generous when hosting huge parties and cosy with smaller affairs. Moving from Singapore, the family were exhilarated with the prospect of living off on an immensely large plot of land in a open countryside while deeply paranoia of the safety across the Straits.Confronted with the context, we were gripped with the intuition to fortify and the preoccupation with flatness. Considering the size of the plot, it came to us almost immediately to build a single storey mansion. Geoffrey Bawa’s house on 33rd Lane in Colombo and the House of the Faun in Pompeii (2nd century AC) were references that were instrumental in the formulation of the plan in early stages.

▼项目鸟瞰,aerial view © Fabian Ong


From the street, the house looks understated, almost unapologetically flat, revealing little of the interior except for the faceted, sloping timber ceiling that hangs within. The 5m tall walls fortifies the interior and encapsulate the roofs that slopes inwards to the courtyards. Within the compound, the main bulk of the house, where communal living and entertaining occurs, is compacted over a third of the plot size, freeing up a vast expanse of space for a back garden, pool and an annex block which houses the immediate family’s quarters.

▼(左)室内图底,(中)室外图底,(右)结构框架,(left)internal figure ground form,(middle)external figure ground form,(right)structural frame © Formwerkz Architects


The main space is spatially delineated into 9 sub-grids, punctuated with a series of courtyards. The courtyards were essential for the otherwise deep plan to work, as they bring natural daylight and ventilation to every part of the house. Each courtyard is unique, differentiated by the varied sizes and placement within its respective sub-zones. Each has a different garden that responds to the differing openness to sky and the way rain gathers and free fall into the courtyards from the varying roof slopes which are geometrically determined by the courtyards’ placement and dimension.The living spaces are clustered, organically arranged and rearranged overtime, weaving freeing amongst the interspersed cloister.

▼入口,entrance © Fabian Ong

▼车库,garage © Fabian Ong

▼从入口看向内部,view from entrance to interior © Fabian Ong

▼起居空间有机地穿插在回廊之中,living space is organically interspersed in the corridors © Fabian Ong

▼阶梯通往屋顶夹层,ladder leading to the roof mezzanine © Fabian Ong

▼屋顶夹层,roof mezzanine © Fabian Ong

▼不同的回廊空间,different cloister spaces © Fabian Ong

▼向庭院倾斜的多面木天花,timber ceiling sloping from the high ridges towards the courtyards © Fabian Ong

▼屋檐下的回廊,cloister under eaves © Fabian Ong

▼后花园,back garden © Fabian Ong


A dominant interior feature that characterise the different, inter-connected cloistered spaces is the multi-faceted, Merbau timber ceiling that slopes from the high ridges towards the courtyards. At nightfall, fragments of these undulations are revealed through a glass strip the façade, revealing the intricacy within.

▼夜景,night view © Fabian Ong


We were exploring and expanding on the contemporary tropical house trope where courtyards and roofs, instead of walls and air-conditioning, dictates and define space. We wanted to create a house that can evolve organically with the family. We were interested in spaces that inspire and sensitised one to the beauty of nature. Adapting their living spaces with the changing sun-path and taking notice that the sound of rain is distinct in the different courtyards.

▼平面,plan © Formwerkz Architects

▼屋顶平面,roof plan © Formwerkz Architects

▼剖面,section © Formwerkz Architects

Project Name: Cloister House
Architect: Formwerkz Architects
Contact Email: 
Lead Architect: Alan Tay, Seetoh Kum Loon
Project Team: Iskandar Idris, Xue Zhen Chen, Sarah Ng
Completion Year: 2018
Interior Design: Formwerkz Architects
Landscape Design: Formwerkz Architects
Builder: Telford Signature (M) Sdn Bhd
Landscape Contractor: Uniscape Sdn Bhd
Photo Credits: Fabian Ong

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