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July 9, 2020 – Published in Design & Decor Summer 2013 issue
A house that truly communes with nature – in Bali
Words: Andrea Christians
Photography: Nikita Arnett
For many people a trip to Bali constitutes a dream holiday but one couple, who once lived in Malta, not only moved there but went on to build their perfect house. Not surprisingly there are many advantages of living in such a beautiful location but when it comes to house design there are a number of ideas and features that could so easily be adopted to enhance our lives here in Malta – if only we are prepared to think in slightly unconventional terms or, to coin a phrase, to think outside the box!
Obviously there are some fundamental differences – Malta has a searingly hot summer whilst Bali suffers 95 % humidity and averages 35 – 40 degrees all year round. Despite the advent of modern technology homes in Malta are stone or cement built and are essentially cold in winter and hot in summer. In Bali heat is also an issue and humidity also plays its own part. However, the owners of this house have gone to great lengths and used their past expertise to not only create a home that is comfortable and functional but also one that it far more in tune with nature by choosing natural materials and an ecological design.
This is a house that is at one with nature. Completed approximately one year ago it took approximately six months to build and was originally just an over grown piece of land with a profusion of wild trees and plants with Mangos and even Avocados growing wild within the grounds. The house was effectively designed around the trees and is simple and open plan.
The first thing that is striking about this property is its shape. You will see that it has a geometric design with high ceilings to allow the heat to rise and dissipate. The construction is primarily of stone whilst the dramatic sloping roof is lined with a locally sourced material that resembles rattan. Rather unusually the owners opted to use a slate roof which is quite rare in Bali as mostly terracotta is used for tiling but this is after all a home that leads the way when it comes to originality with every decision regarding style and construction having been thoroughly researched and discussed beforehand. Not surprisingly it was designed in accordance with the principles of Feng Shui which is an ancient practice that actually originated several thousand years ago in Bali and was later adopted by the Chinese. Careful consideration was made at the design phase so that all the elements were in the right place and the result is impressive.
The house is essentially almost open to the elements. In fact, the glass doors and windows fold back to effectively bring the garden into the home so that the inside becomes an extension of the outside and vice versa. The open plan style and large spaces allow for air to flow freely throughout at all times and even the hottest of days require nothing more than a ceiling fan to keep comfortable.
Inside it exudes comfort with an eclectic mix of Balinese and Japanese furnishings in the main sitting area and has lots of artistic touches – A large wall hanging is particularly attractive and actually covers a large plasma television screen when not in use. The kitchen area is functional and stylishly simple in truly Bali style whilst the bathrooms are actually open to the elements with rain water able to run off the roof and land on the exterior stones giving the effect of a waterfall before being recycled.
The simplicity of the life here is reflected all around and in the main bedroom the artistic flair of the owners is again immediately apparent with the open wardrobe that makes for an eye catching feature. The woven storage baskets assure that the clothes remain well aired whilst the use of natural materials throughout create an almost holistic atmosphere.
The garden is enchanting from the moment you enter stepping over a threshold that is a glass covered pond well stocked with Koi! Filled with lush vegetation it is a joy just to sit and ponder amongst the statues and Balinese umbrellas in one of the many peaceful nooks and take advantage of the sense of peacefulness and surrounding nature.
Even the swimming pool has been ecologically designed and is long and narrow and partially elevated with the over spill water being recycled so that nothing is wasted.
Recent visitors from Malta returned saying that the house and its gardens were so beautiful and peaceful they hardly wanted to leave but have returned filled with enthusiasm and an intention to adopt the principles of making their own garden and outside space more of an integral part of the home – the climate here certainly lends itself to this idea and, inspired by Bali, they tell me that in Malta, with just a little imagination, the possibilities are endless!