Distracted House: Unique Roof Style Merges Javanese Tradition with Urban Modern Living

Distracted House: Unique Roof Style Merges Javanese Tradition with Urban Modern Living

/ Jakarta, Indonesia /

/ Story: Kor Lordkam / English version: Bob Pitakwong /

/ Photographs: Andhy Prayitno, of Mario Wibowo Photography ( /

Nestled on the outskirts of Indonesia’s capital Jakarta, an urban modern home aptly named “Distracted House” looks completely different from everything else. The densely populated neighborhood shares a common characteristic. It’s chock-full of one- and two-story homes closely packed in a way that it feels uncomfortable. To deflect attention away from the humdrum existence of a crowded space, a team of talented engineers at Ismail Solehudin Architecture came up with a clever idea for a craftsman-style home unlike anything else.

Distracted House

Distracted House

The result is a work of outstanding artistry made clearly noticeable by irregular polygons with unequal sides and unequal angles. But what makes Distracted House even more interesting lies in its irresistible power of storytelling.

Beautifully done, it looks the epitome of Javanese culture designed to showcase the ways of life, religious beliefs and traditional vernacular style unique to the Indonesian archipelago.

That’s what gives this home its timeless appeal that blends perfectly with the surrounding landscape.

Distracted House

Distracted House

The two-story, 420-square-meter building is home to an extended family with seven resident members on a normal day. On special occasions and holidays the number can increase to more than 10. That’s precisely a challenge that the architects had to overcome by creating enough usable spaces and functions to satisfy demands.

To fit in with the existing built environment, the only way to go was up. The architects relied on two building methods to solve the problem.

First, the roof was raised slightly higher than normal to create enough room for a mezzanine on the second floor, thereby giving the house extra living spaces, plus well thought out details make the interior feel warm and welcoming. This was achieved in a way that’s compatible with the mostly two-story homes neighborhood.

The second method involved putting in a courtyard with swimming pool at the rear, plus adding plants and greenery inside the home.

The pool that’s the focal point of the courtyard can be seen in full view from inside the dining room and sitting room. To bring the outdoors into the home, small rock gardens with lovely low-maintenance plants are integrated in the design, while skylights set into the roofline keep the interior well-lit during daytime hours.

Distracted House

Overall, the interior living spaces are invitingly comfortable thanks to a well-designed stairwell that opens to admit fresh outdoor air into the room.

Despite the limitations, attention to detail makes the home a special place to be and prevents it from becoming a stuffy, overcrowded space.

Distracted House

Apart from a bright and airy atmosphere, it’s the house’s outer appearance that’s getting the most attention. Plus, family traditions, lifestyle and religious beliefs play a part in determining the location of, and interaction between functional spaces in the home.

This is manifested in building orientation, by which the new home design axis is aligned with Qibla, or the direction towards the Kaaba (the stone building at the center of Islam’s holiest site in Mecca). Hence the Musalla, or room set aside for prayer in Islam, is located at the farthest end in this direction.

A place to quietly reflect inward and connect with Allah, it’s also used for religious ceremonies in the family.

Distracted House

Conceptual Diagram Courtesy of Ismail Solehudin Architecture
House Orientation Concept Courtesy of Ismail Solehudin Architecture
First Floor Plan House Courtesy of Ismail Solehudin Architecture
Second Floor Plan House Courtesy of Ismail Solehudin Architecture
Rooftop Plan House Courtesy of Ismail Solehudin Architecture

Like so, the main communal space of Distracted House is set oblique in relation to the rectangular yard landscape, an unusual layout that sets it apart from the rest. To synchronize modern living with traditional Javanese style and taste, the team of architects added Joglo house architecture to the design.

The term Joglo refers to a steep pitch roof at the center that was associated with Javanese aristocrats in olden times. The center of the floor plan is filled with smaller rooms and functional spaces, creating a conducive environment for a harmonious family life.

Meantime, areas on the periphery are roofed over to keep them in shade.

Distracted House

Distracted House

Overall, the building envelope is made of wood and concrete masonry construction painted white. Where appropriate, air bricks are used as part of the house’s ventilation system.

Except for its unusual shape, the entire roof is covered in terra cotta tiles in a dark shade of orange that’s consistent with other houses in the neighborhood.

Distracted House

Distracted House

In summary, it’s a well-thought-out design that speaks volumes for lifestyle, a strict adherence to religion, and cultural heritage passed down through generations of a family.

A new home made with skill, creativity and imagination, it’s a look that conveys a great deal about the residents through interior and exterior design.

Who would have thought that a home with absolutely unique physical features would ease into beautiful suburban vibes? Interesting, to say the least.

Distracted House

Architects: Ismail Solehudin Architecture (
Lead Architect: Ismail Solehudin
Design team: Radhian Dwiadhyasa
Building contractor: Wani Build
Structural Engineer: Pt. Desain putra persada (new building) Andi Dzikril (building structure)

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Urban Courtyard House for an Extended Family

Urban Courtyard House for an Extended Family

/ Bangkok, Thailand /

/ Story: Sarayut / English version: Bob Pitakwong / Photographs: Ritthirong /

Let’s say you’re looking for a modern urban courtyard house plan to get inspired. Here’s one nestled in the heart of Bangkok’s downtown that’s built to accommodate three generations living in one household. Nice work, it’s capable of answering the family’s lifestyle needs, plus it’s easy to maintain thanks to uncomplicated design. What looks opague from the outside is compensated by a center courtyard that’s light and airy. Its story is inscribed as part of the building’s decorative features.

Urban Courtyard House for an Extended Family Urban Courtyard House for an Extended Family

When a design team from the Atelier of Architects Co., Ltd was tasked with creating a new home for eight people including not just parents and their children, but also grandparents, the first things they thought of were safety features, comfortable living conditions, privacy protection, and a peaceful environment for all family members.

Yes. That’s exactly what they had in mind.

Urban Courtyard House for an Extended Family

The two-level, six-bedroom house plan may seem a bit crowded for a 130-sq-wah plot of land, but the overall layout is impressive. It’s neatly planned to ensure the proper space utilization. In so doing, every available space is used in an effective way.

Homeowner Salyawate Prasertwitayakarn, himself an architect, put it this way:

“If the house is built in the middle as is usually the case, there won’t be enough room for a yard, let alone a small piece of ground for trees.

“The land is environed by vacant lots that will see large property developments taking place in future. So the only way forward is to build a U-shaped home with solid walls along the outside of the house and a center courtyard facing an apartment building that’s the family’s business.

“Although the courtyard lies facing west, it’s protected from the sun and heat by the adjacent five-story apartment building. The result is a cool small outdoor area for little children to run and play.

“To protect family privacy, vertical concrete fins and a full array of plantation blinds are installed along the building façade facing the apartment building.”

Urban Courtyard House for an Extended Family Urban Courtyard House for an Extended FamilyUrban Courtyard House for an Extended Family Urban Courtyard House for an Extended Family Urban Courtyard House for an Extended Family Urban Courtyard House for an Extended Family

Taken as a whole, it’s uncomplicated design that gives this new urban courtyard house its character.

Its outstanding features include an array of transom windows that bring more natural light into the home. Its modern and fresh interior with shades of gray bespeaks a clean, clear and uncluttered layout, while exposed brick walls add timeless elegance to the peaceful ambience.

The courtyard patio is covered in gray pea sized gravel that’s easy to maintain. It’s a simple yet attractive design that expresses rich and subtle meanings. On this matter, Salyawate explained:

“I want to get the message across, something that internalizes values and what’s important in life for everyone in the family.

“This is evident in the work of art executed directly on the brick wall by the entryway. It takes the form of the Thai letter “p” that’s the initial of the family’s three sons — Pahda, Pheem, and Pinyada.

“Precisely, it’s a reminder that this place is made for them.”

Urban Courtyard House for an Extended Family Urban Courtyard House for an Extended Family

To get people from one floor to the next, a spiral staircase stands surrounded by bookshelves. It’s the most frequented area of the house where a blonze plaque is installed as a reminder of when the house was built and completed.

The outlines of the couple’s hands and those of their children are inscribed on it. Small hand images indicate the family moved in when the kids were little.

Urban Courtyard House for an Extended Family Urban Courtyard House for an Extended Family

Visiting house guests can tell right away the home is perfectly cozy without elaborate décor. But for the eight people who live here, it’s a special place made for living a simple life, one full of rest and room to pursue their dreams.

Urban Courtyard House for an Extended Family

Architect: The Atelier of Architects Co., Ltd by Salyawate Prasertwitayakarn
Owner: Salyawate, Piyasuda Prasertwitayakarn