Innovation and tradition mixed together beautifully to create a place everyone would love to call home
The longhouse is the very centre of communal life in Sarawak, and taking that as an inspiration and applying it into a contemporary milieu, M+M House truly captures the essence of the traditional architecture of longhouse and yet still remain modern at the same time. Named after two friends, Mike and Meng, M+M House is truly a successful project in creating two slightly identical residents on a shared plot and enjoy the expansive space for various cultural and social activities in the compound. The flexibility of this project is that it can cater for future additional resident for family and friends in the same compound and remain true to the communal living of a longhouse.
In support of sustainability as a way of life, the materials used in this project are easily replaceable and are abundant in the surrounding forest such as bamboos are used for wall flooring and wall cladding and palm leaves are used for roof covering whilst the main structural component for the project is Sarawak ironwood that has been known to last for more than 100 years. The designed of the house is to provide maximum natural illumination and the strategically placed opening on the walls and floors is to encourage cross ventilation. Similar to a longhouse, M+M House is also consist of three linear important spaces but arranged differently. The open deck has been modified and partially sheltered designed for outdoor living, next to it is the open living area which is actually a covered veranda that could be close off with sliding doors, and the bedrooms and the family area placed above the living area to truly symbolize flexibility in the usage of space.
The uniqueness of the project does not stop there. To retain the essence of tradition and culture of the longhouse, local craftsmen and tradesmen were carefully selected to build a resident that doesn’t follow the norms using their traditional skills and technique. Reinforced concrete frame supported with reinforced concrete piles are used to construct the houses and on each external walls, reinforced concrete slabs are extended to protect the residents from the brutal force of tropical weathers. The sliding doors are made from standard anodised with clear float glass while louver windows are fixed to all the rooms and toilets on the first floor. A long pool separate two linear terrace spaces on the ground floor to protect it from seasonal rains and induce the sense of tranquillity in the house.
M+M House is not just an adaptive response to Sarawak indigenous architecture and culture, but it was also built to survive the constant bombardment of fierce monsoon weathers. The resident was carefully planned to align towards the constant onslaught of winds that come from southwest during dry season and from the north during rainy season. The windows to the north and south was meant to let the outdoors breeze lower the temperature in the house whilst the windows to the east and west is to reduce the area of high thermal mass. To further reduce the reliance on air-conditioning, heat are allowed to rise up to the spaces beneath the tall ceilings on both floors and the long pools to cool the air on the ground floor.
Combining modern and tradition values into one architectural masterpiece and still remain elegant and polished; it’s truly a sight for sore eyes. M+M House is the concrete proof that contemporary does not necessarily means that designers have to abandon the essence of culture and tradition in our society.