Home Dining Respecting Nature: The Serendah Hill Retreat Pays Homage to the Japanese Concept of Shakkei

Respecting Nature: The Serendah Hill Retreat Pays Homage to the Japanese Concept of Shakkei

by creativehomex

Beyond a physical home, Serendah Hill Retreat is a deeply personal homage to the clients, who are the Architect’s parents, and to the surrounding lush tropical landscape that has been the bedrock of their Buddhist spiritual life.

Adopting the Japanese principles of “shakkei” (borrowed landscape), the house was conceived from the beginning as an extension of the landscape, part of which has been meticulously curated and nurtured by the clients by hand from seeds, for more than a decade, even before the house was designed – Pre-existing soft architecture that the house needs to respect.

In the spirit of sustainable way of life, passive design principles are integrated to increase comfort without the need for air conditioning. While views are primarily orientated towards East-South-West due to the water tower on the north, deep shading is provided by means of natural vegetation, balconies and deep overhangs. The ceremonial double-height space that greets from the main entrance, top-lit with grand skylight, encourages cross ventilation. Carefully detailed ventilation louvres and mosquito netting are also used extensively throughout, while sandwiched insulated in-situ concrete roof system limits heat gain.

Committed to living through their retirement humbly, in support of local businesses and laborers, the house was conceived with a humble budget, utilizing local, familiar materials that hark back to their memories of home in the yesteryear. Alongside a nostalgic palette of facing brick, terracotta, terrazzo and solid metal rails, broken Ipoh marble pieces were specially reconstructed as flooring, in close collaboration with local contractors. Concrete soffits are honestly left bare without ceiling, with services systematically coordinated and concealed. Even furniture were mostly refurbished from their old homes, breathing new life to the parents’ cherished memories.

Recognizing the dignity of living independently through the golden years, the spatial layout was designed with ease of mobility in mind, enabling the elderly couple to move around between their living, dining, kitchen and bedroom without having to climb up and down the stairs. The living, dining and bedroom areas are extended with generous outdoor terraces which enable the couple to enjoy the landscape without having to go down to the garden. Entrances and circulation are thoughtfully arranged to provide security and peace of mind. As a symbol of familial ties, the Dining area is the communal heart of the house, while the Living Area became a personal retreat space for the couple. While the rooftop is their morning meditation space, the corner outside the Living Room facing the garden is their favorite spot to spend hours in the day, basking in the expansive views, melodic sounds of the landscape, and soothing winds.


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