Modern Tropical Resort Home Wonky Woo Malaysia's Extraordinary House Transformation Architecture


Some people say we were very brave. But we thought well it's an adventure. Others say we were very foolish. This is our 22nd house. We've had 22 houses since we've been married.

So everybody thought we were completely mad. We could see something in the house that most people couldn't see it. Hello everyone, my name is Alex Lee and I am from Design Seed. Over the past year, we've featured multiple episodes relating to the Terrace House Transformation and in just a couple of months, we've been touching base with over a million views in some of these previous episodes.

Due to the immense demand, today's episode, we will be featuring another compelling episode to add to our Terrace House Transformation series.

If you have interest in such contents, please subscribe to our channel and support us. Your subscription will definitely motivate us in striving for greater and better contents. The owners of the curiously named Wonky Woo House, British born Simon and Sue Watts who relocated to Malaysia in 2005 Simon was a formal army officer from the UK now based in Kuala Lumpur. His devoted wife Sue is the owner of B.est Mind & Body, a wellness studio located in Kuala Lumpur, offering a holistic approach to nurturing mind and body.

With a keen eye to its potential, the globetrotting pair acquired a rundown mid-terrace house in Taman Seputeh back in 2018 and commissioned Tony Heneberry of Two's Company to design and build their new home. The for sale sign on the front of it.

I mean it is the ugliest house on the ugliest street you know it's like the worst of everything so. The house was terrible but aspect to the back was breath-taking. This is the heart of the house, this kitchen area, and it's the area where we all congregate.

So the beauty of it is we have separate spaces in the house but then we all come together. Different times during the day, one or if we're at home we'll sit up there and have coffee, be on laptops or whatever and you've still got this amazing light coming in. I mean we love the concrete. We liked it from, you know purely an aesthetic perspective but the practicality is, it's amazing because if you chip it you just fill it back in with a bit of concrete.

I mean it's fantastic.

And it works so well. People come straight in to pull up a stool. You get a drink and you don't move till they go home. Most terrace houses which ends up having great transformation impact has a drastic change from the front facade. What's intriguing for this case is that the facade, the sidewall show no signs of significant changes to the outer frame of the existing architecture.

But when we stepped into the property, the transformation was indeed fascinating. Tony, the appointed designer for the Wonky Woo House, had a clear vision of turning this 50 years old rundown link house into a modern tropical house. My name is Tony Heneberry. I'm originally from Ireland. Uh I've lived in Malaysia for 30 years.

I founded Two's Company about 10 years ago. My first step of designing is at the house with regard to the facade is what's the experience of the inside looking out because actually that's more important to me. On the first floor level, at the front of this house, I used vent block and the height of that vent block stops in-line with the view towards the roofs of the houses in the neighbourhood. Gonna take out everything that I don't feel is of value to the people on the inside but the outside view is also going to be quite interesting because you don't realize how much is going on on the inside until you walk in and I like that.

I don't want to give away how interesting these houses can be until you walk through.

As much as I've got a strong opinion on how I want the place to look and feel, my role isn't to impose my personality on the owners. My role is to enable them to have a surface they can put their personality on.

So when you walk into this house, what you experience is Sue and Simon's you know 30-40 years of travel and experience and it's an expression of their personality and their preferences. So in terms of the internal split levels, we just worked with it. The internal view from every level is into kind of an open space and it makes each individual component feel the descendants.

It's just flows to the next, flow to the next, flows to the next and goes all the way up to a very large skylight over the centre. So that's also, I think had a benefit of making the house feel larger.

The entire skeleton of the original structure was maintained. Actually we kept the entire staircase. The steel framework and all the wood treads are all original from the original house but the start and endpoints are wrong so I just reversed it.

And that made it work correctly for every floor that you land on. A small tweak but actually had a quite a big impact on each of the spaces. The house had a very steep bank down to the rear went dropped by about 4 meters or so. So we put in a retaining box, retaining structure. Sitting on the top of that box is the pool which is slightly above ground.

In this particular case because we had a few meters below the pool we also put in a man cave and Simon the owner, has his workshop down there.

Modern Tropical Resort Home|Wonky Woo|Malaysia's Extraordinary House Transformation|Architecture

He's a very talented carpenter so he does his hobby, carpentry work in the man cave below the pool. Well the downstairs' loo, so the pictures in there, that's a very British thing to do.

Having a photograph of the Queen but the fact that it's behind the loo is sort of takes a few people off guard. It's just an eclectic mix of different milestones and people in our life without having them on display throughout the house.

So yeah. I wanted an area that was a study, somewhere you can have a desk and you know books and bits of peace but you know we want somewhere that's connected in some ways easily to communicate to so you know that was my office for 2 years. It worked so well I mean it's easy that you know I'm there half an hour, and then I can come and eat dinner. It's worked very well. So usually you came in through what's now the downstairs' loo there, that was like a coby front door hallway came through there and then where the lounge study is now was the kitchen.

So that was the original setup of the house The most amazing thing when we came to the house was that green aspect at the back but it has over the time that we have been here I don't know whether our appreciation of that has grown or the actual banyan tree has grown but from that bedroom as I say that at pillow level at that view out with those screens, you can move your view, from left to screen to right to screen depending on where. It's amazing you know, it's the first thing we do. The doors are open and we open the screens and you have that amazing vista that I was going to say.

It's either that or you can open up that bit. So again it's another discovery that we've noticed since the house has been completed.

In this case, this bedroom is a really serene space with no other functions attached to it. They're all in a separate space. The deck off the back of that then has a concealed but open-to-air bath, which is outside of a very long, very generously proportioned bathroom and shower space. So that space is really boutique hotel vibe. The whole experience is they're coming home to resort and coming home to chill and relax and those two key spaces are most importantly delivered to that need.

So the bedroom ended up with the extension to the rear, we ended up with a very generously sized bathroom and a generously sized veranda and what would have been the old family hall then became a walk-through wardrobe. Then on the next level up, the bedrooms aren't huge but they're perfectly adequate for the needs of their children when they arrive and they both have their own private en-suite bathrooms and their own deck space to the front of it and then the lattice screen outside of that so it feels as though the boundary of the room is on the vent block lattice outside at the outer edge of the balcony so that makes the rooms feel large even though they're not large The Wonky Woo House has particularly strong aspects in response to tropical climate by reintroducing natural lighting into the heart of the home and at the same time encouraging fluent cross-ventilation.

In fact, what Tony has done with both ends of the house has typically enlarged impression of the interior. The island bar area has an interrelation to the barbecue area or acts as an extended wet kitchen, which makes the space feel larger than it actually is and having the swimming pool and decking area just outside makes the impression that landscape is part of the interior. The living hall has a privacy setback that makes the porch area feel inclusive.

With the automated folding gate that faultlessly screens neighbours makes a great view of the clear clouds and allows sufficient natural lighting into the property. A good friend of mine, Robert Powell emphasizes a lot on this term he repeats in almost every episode of the Terrace Transformation Series called Designing In Section this episode is a collaboration with Atelier International, a book publisher that features 290 pages of extraordinary terrace house transformation in a high quality book.

Let us invite Professor Robert Powell, the author himself to share his perspective of the Wonky Woo House the terrace house is situated on sloping topography that overlooks open grassland and a bamboo grove at the rear with distant views to forested hills. The existing terrace house on the site, made little use of the slope and like its neighbours was located on the high flat land on the western part of the site. The designer saw the potential to step down the slope to create an interplay of levels.

Connection to nature is a vital feature of the design. Proceeding through the reception hall, the house opens up dramatically with a two-storey atrium beneath the lightwell. A tall tree fills the space beneath the glazed skylight and an elegant open riser staircase ascends to the private master bedroom suite that enjoys views northeast to the slopes of Bukit Seputeh. The staircase also descends to an open plan dining room and kitchen and then to a timber deck and a glittering pool tiled with green sukabumi stone sourced from Bali.

The garden makes use of an ancient Chinese and Japanese principle of borrowed landscape and appears to extend to the horizon.

Designing in section is a particularly strong aspect of this house. It responds to the tropical climate by the introduction of daylight while excluding solar gain. It also promotes cross-ventilation so that the house is comfortable without air-conditioning.

Although it is provided should it be found necessary. Something that Tony mentioned that left an influential mark in my memory which was to design the view from the inside rather than the outside.

This home is designed accustomed for the owners Simon and Sue to appreciate and wallow in and every view of the outdoor is designed taking account of enjoying that view from the inside and not for the people on the outside and that to me is how a contented home should be built. Some extravagant renovation ends up taking too much of the budget due to the priority set aside for the original impact of the exterior of the property.

But undermining the priorities of the interior visuals rather than the exterior. Don't you think so? Share your comments on the comment column below and let us know what you think.

My name is Alex Lee and I am from Design Seed. If you enjoyed today's episode, please support us by clicking on that subscribe button and clicking on that notification buzzer to stay in the loop of more compelling episodes. If you're interested to purchase the Terrace Transformation book by Atelier International, follow us on Instagram and TikTok. We will be sharing the details over there. Thank you for watching.

I'll see you guys next week..

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