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Issue 59 - The Life Outside Issue

Issue 59

The Life Outside Issue

Introducing the Life Outside issue of Habitus magazine. With life increasingly being absorbed into a digital space, there is never a more important moment to hold something tangible. In this context, the power of nature to have a physiological impact on our sense of wellbeing has never been more important. So how can we cultivate the benefits of the our natural environment in the most intimate of places – our homes? This was the question that helped to bring this issue of Habitus to life.

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Finding paradise at Uluwatu Estate
HospitalityLuo Jingmei

Finding paradise at Uluwatu Estate

Indonesia

Photography

Hiroyuki Oki

Uluwatu Estate in Bali combines sensitive design, nature and craft into a 14-year labour of love.


At Uluwatu Estate, nature is the protagonist. Ambling through the property, one is often drawn to multifarious patterns, sights and smells – of sculpted Frangipani trees with twisting branches like the graceful arms of Balinese dancers throwing complex shadows onto the grass, the stacking of stones into walls, salty seawater smells, the constant rhythm of crashing waves and the mutable surfaces of the pool and sea beyond that turn aquamarine or light pink, depending on the time of the day.

Designed by Singapore-based Tristan+Ju, Uluwatu is Asia’s first and only Mandarin Oriental Exclusive Home. Spread over 5,500-square-metres (60,000 square foot) of picturesque land above Nyang Nyang Beach, it nestles at the edge of a cliff. The owner Renee Zecha came across the plot in 2002, when the Uluwatu area in Bali was not the popular tourist spot it is now. Back then only competent surfers came, and nature was wild.   

Tristan+Ju designs Uluwatu Estate

Zecha, an investment banker, visited Bali often and decided to build a holiday home to escape to during the European summers. Construction started in 2007 but expanded into a 14-year project as a road had to be laid for construction vehicles to enter, and basic amenities such as electricity and water had to be brought onto site. Building and raw materials were shipped from East Java to the remote site.

Eventually, it was decided to increase the programming so that the Estate could be rented out when Zecha was not there. Now, there are eight rentable suite rooms designed like private villas, a spa, gym, library and pavilions for dining and lounging.

Related: Javanese tradition and tropical modernism merge at Limasan House

Tristan+Ju designs Uluwatu Estate

Tristan+Ju has woven a beautiful sequence of spaces through the plot. “The site is relatively long, with the most stunning ocean view at the rear. We knew we wanted to create a project with lush landscaping to soften the mood and counter the harsh Uluwatu weather. So we interspersed the journey from the front to the rear of the site with gardens and landscape bridges among existing tall trees from the gully,” says Juliana Chan, who founded Tristan+Ju with her husband Tristan Tan in 2012.

The gully is situated just before the cliff’s edge. The design team laid a bridge over, enhancing the approach toward the pool. The majesty of large trees growing up from the gully give added shade to the bridge, where benches made from solid tree trunks invite rest.

Tristan+Ju designs Uluwatu Estate

The villas themselves are understated and harmoniously engage outward views. Each villa has its own “attraction” or internal view of ponds, petit gardens or courtyards. Solid teak wood and iron wood are generously deployed for their durability in the tropical climate, cladding ceilings, bedroom floors, or used for doors, joinery, furniture and window shutters.

Terrazzo and pebble wash floors in the villas bring a cooling touch on the feet. To add to the palette are textured Palimanan stone on the common areas and limestone excavated from the site, then made into walls. These tactile surfaces are expressed simply, celebrating their natural beauty and materiality. 

Tristan+Ju designs Uluwatu Estate

“The site is just next to the ocean, so we tried to avoid the use of too many metal elements unless absolutely necessary. We concentrated on using wood instead, which we knew was actually easier to maintain by the local team in the long run. Our builder also had access to very beautiful old or reclaimed solid teak wood, which he had accumulated and kept over the years in his warehouse in Java. This meant the timbers had already been thoroughly dried and did not warp as much as new teak wood,” Chan explains, adding that together with the builder’s excellent craftsmanship, they could create many bespoke timber products unique for the Estate.

There is a strong personal touch to the project, where each and every item is thoughtfully sourced and positioned by the creative team. One example is a hanging lamp above the main dining table. “These 400-year-old mercury jars were salvaged from a shipwreck in East Java. They reflect Renee’s Javanese history. We modernised them by fabricating a brass structural support to create our take on a contemporary chandelier,” Tan comments.

Tristan+Ju designs Uluwatu Estate

There are so many storied details in Uluwatu Estate. Tan points out the room name signs outside each villa door. “Their wood bases are actually part of a traditional roof dismantled from an old house in Java, which explains its unique shape.”

The couple trawled many “so-called junk warehouses or scrapyards” to find these treasures – places “architects and designers won’t go to because they are dirty, dusty, messy and piled high with ‘junk’. But it’s in these places where we often find a lot of hidden treasure beneath much rubble because these spaces have objects, furniture, structural elements, and good quality building materials that have been salvaged from demolished houses,” says Chan. 

Her personal favourite is the Tosari villa suite, which was named after the town Zecha grew up in; each villa name has a meaning. “Tosari combines all the features of what we were trying to achieve for the entire project in one villa suite, in its architectural detailing, in its mood, the deep overhangs and material choices that make it a tropical modern space. It’s luxurious yet comfortable, with a human touch.”

Uluwatu Estate
uluwatuestate.com

Tristan+Ju designs Uluwatu Estate
Tristan+Ju designs Uluwatu Estate
Tristan+Ju designs Uluwatu Estate

Next up: Mid-Century musings at this calming coastal retreat by Sandbox Studio


About the Author

Luo Jingmei

Tags

ArchitectureBaliindonesiaMandarin OrientalResidential ArchitectureTristan+JuUluwatu Estate


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Issue 59 - The Life Outside Issue

Issue 59

The Life Outside Issue

Introducing the Life Outside issue of Habitus magazine. With life increasingly being absorbed into a digital space, there is never a more important moment to hold something tangible. In this context, the power of nature to have a physiological impact on our sense of wellbeing has never been more important. So how can we cultivate the benefits of the our natural environment in the most intimate of places – our homes? This was the question that helped to bring this issue of Habitus to life.

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