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Green Architecture for a Hilltop Chalet.

How to Design for Sustainable Architecture using Simple House Plans

Malaysian and Balinese Style Designs For Tropical Climate Restraints

Architect Owner House. It  sits  atop  a  small  hill  among  rainforest  trees  overlooking  the  South China  Sea  not  far  from  the  centre  of  Kota KinabaluSabah.

Hill Slope Design.  Of the 0.5 acres, less than 25% is flat, while the rest is on a 1:3 slope. The  aim was to  conserve  both  the  natural  vegetation  and maintain an uninterrupted  view  of  the  sea  from  all  parts of the  house. In addition, there was no existing electricity supply to the site, so the use of conventional machinery such as drills, circular saws and welding machines was out. Everything  on  site  had  to  be  designed  using  hand  tools  only,- a  case  of alternative or improvisation ure?

Designed for Cost Effective Construction.  Due to the difficulties in establishing verticality, a normal post and beam method will not produce a building that is proper and uniform. With a timber frame building, a slight deflection of half an inch will be visibly exposed in the finished product. Consequently, a stud frame method of construction was used, and to simplify this, the gable was prefabricated with the wall studs. Thus the ‘A’ frame roof is formed as soon as the wall studs were raised. Precise and accurate planning had to go into the stud prefabrication, and three of the ‘A’ frames were made on top of each other. The first ‘A’ frame was made on the floor and its dimensions checked and squared. Two additional ‘A’ frames  were  traced  over  this  template, to ensure a perfect  match, but had  slight variations  in  the  studs  to  incorporate door  openings and mezzanine support. The roof frames were prefabricated into two vertical sections and raised individually with chain and pulleys. All timber members for the entire house were nailed together.  Only six bolts were used to secure the three ‘selangan batu’ columns to the floor. No metal gusset plates were used and all joints were carefully thought out. Timbers were put together whole, thus eliminating bird-mouth notches. The real sturdiness of the house was put to the test by the first and subsequent Tropical storms, and it came through unscathed without a hitch, a perfect example of sustainable ure.

Innovative Car Porch Design. A local villager was sought to put together the car porch. In accordance with the green ure principle, a thatched ‘nipah palm’ roof was used, using the traditional rattan weaving method. In  using only  local  materials  from nature, the  outcome was a  roof  with  superb  insulation  properties. Upper and lower deck.  The entire deck was  made  from  timber, with  the  exception of  the  footings  which  are  of  concrete, and floor  beams  which are C-beams. As part of cost-cutting, use  of  wet works, concrete  and  brickwork, had to be  minimized, as it  is  not feasible on a steep, uneven slope such as this, where wheelbarrows  cannot  be  employed..

Kitchen Interior Design.  This structure is independent of the house. The deck  was made of very light  materials, as  piling  on  the  hill slope  is  expensive if  not  impossible. The plan was to insert the structure into the hill slope soil with minimal disturbance to the slope. The result is an open-air kitchen that needs no exhaust hoods, Asian cooking produces a lot of smoke! The separate kitchen allows the maid to work independently, away from the living and sleeping areas. The  decks  sit  comfortably on  the 1:3  slope, while the  stepped  profile allows each level of the house to  have  an  uninterrupted  view of the sea  and jungle below. All  work, including the kitchen cabinets  were  constructed  on  site, using  the  same  timber  as  on  the  deck  floor. As off-cuts were used for the cabinets, it is cost efficient with minimal wastage. Translucent PVC roofing sheets were installed for natural lighting and bamboo blinds for controlling the rain.

Chin  is an Interior Design  that offers Design and Built package for Interior Residential or Commercial Designs.

Servant’s Quarters and Store Room. This is a simple wooden building with metal sheet roofing and fiber-cement sheet walls. This houses the servant’s bedroom with an en-suite, a work area, laundry and tool storage. Using only one skilled worker and two unskilled workers, this was completed in two months.

Cost effective Materials and Finishes. The entire project was completed using almost 100% of local materials, except for the green marble used in the kitchen and vanity counter tops. The timber finishes is a matt antique finish, which consists of four to five layers of two different timber tones. It took a little experimentation and improvisations to achieve the rustic look I wanted. The structural timber members are termites proofed by applying a thick layer of used motor oil before installation. The motor oil is obtained free of charge from a petrol station nearby. Motor oil never dries up, perfect for termite proofing. Local materials such as fiber cement roofing sheets, timber, nylon ropes, bricks, etc are easily obtainable from local hardware stores. Part of the reason the project was completed in only five months was because all materials are stocked locally; no long delivery period was required for imported materials. The entire project was built using conventional timber sizes like 2” x 3”, 2” x 4” and the largest, 2” x 6” only. No unconventional sizes were used. This proved economical and virtually no wasted time for ordering of timber. Many recycled materials were used for the doors, glass door, curtain and bathroom fittings.

As a result of  all  the  above  improvisation,  I was  able to achieve the rustic appearance that I desired and planned for. This requires the exquisite touch of a landscape . This is also an example of Landscape ure with tropical design. Despite the site challenges, this project was completed in 5 months using cost effective house plans and green building techniques.

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