Brutalist architecture is something South American architects such as Paulo Mendes da Rocha, Lina Bo Bardi and Argentinian studio Luciano Kruk recognised as perfect for tropical environments. As such it is wonderful to see this form taken up by Alexis Dornier for the extraordinary Loop House in Bali.
“I embarked on a daring and transformative journey to create a residence that breaks free from conventional living and embraces the spirit of freedom in Bali’s lush jungle. Commissioned with a simple yet profound brief: “We have lived in boxes our entire life, we now seek the opposite. I set out to craft an architectural masterpiece that defies gravity and captivates the human spirit,” says Dornier.
With studios in both Berlin and Bali, Dornier’s fascination for this mid-century mode is all but a given, yet he has not transferred brutalist architecture to the tropics without thought. Rather, the home is designed to protect from the elements, while celebrating the location.
“The harmony between the house and its lush surroundings was paramount. Carefully selected materials, including concrete, wood, and natural stone, seamlessly integrate the structure with the greenery, adding an element of sophistication and modernity,” says Dornier.
The form of the home provides a continuous fluid movement and ever-changing vantage points. This has been optimised with a unique radial design that channels airflow, frames views and provides expansive interior spaces made naturally cool by the dense thermal mass of the building and the form’s optimised shading.
The pool, for example, although outdoors is placed to be fully shaded by either the house or jungle in all but the midday sun: “The strategic layout of the house ensures that each room offers breathtaking views and a sense of discovery… each space becomes an oasis of tranquillity, immersing occupants in the serene beauty of the jungle,” says Dornier.
Creating a spiral at the axis point where one circle intercepts the other, the transition from interior to exterior is executed as a series of platforms, each only a single step lower than the other, but differing in width. Effectively this allows rooms to be created in the arc of the radial sector, while the fulcrum becomes the stairs.
Outdoor lounge beds occupy one such platform, while a dining table and chairs give a more interior space context. These stepped spiral platforms continue throughout the whole house including the roof where solar panels occupy the outer circumference of one side only, leaving the rest as a vast deck for enjoying the jungle and view over the pool.
Located on a steep slope, the house floats above the jungle, harmoniously integrating with the environment. This has been further suggested by landscaping (Adhiputra Landscape) which has introduced a palm forest to blur the boundaries between the house and nature.
It also hides neighbouring houses, but not agriculture, which has instead been incorporated into the landscape as quintessential to Balinese culture. Additionally, the house has large areas that are without boundaries between indoors and out. These areas are raised above the jungle floor, so while the jungle feels immediate, the spacing of the palms and raised position coalesce to allow nature to feel interactive rather than oppressive.
Arriving via a long narrow path that leads deeper and deeper into the jungle, The Loop is a revelation of cool, calm architecture that sits lightly for all its robust architectural might.
Architecture and interiors – Alexis Dornier
Photography – Kie Arch
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