The Sound of Architecture

For this musician’s home in Bali, architect Alexis Dornier attempted to evoke the feeling of living inside an instrument

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In designing this 370-square-meter project in Mas, just south of Ubud in Bali, German-born architect Alexis Dornier — who relocated to Indonesia in 2013 — had two aims. The first was to pay tribute to the beautiful landscape, with its paddy fields and lush vegetation, and to the region’s rich cultural heritage of wood craftsmanship and traditional carving. The second came from the client, a musician-composer: design a house that evokes the feeling of being inside an instrument. ‘I’ve always been interested in collaborating with artists,’ says Dornier. ‘For this project, we collectively brainstormed what shape this “instrument” could take and how it would “amplify” its surrounding natural setting.’

The resulting design of the two-storey, three-bedroom property emerged from Dornier’s desire to translate a single sound wave into an architectural gesture. ‘The house consists of a series of manipulated lines resulting in bowl-shaped areas and warped planes that create spaces of intimacy, openness and a fluid combination of the two,’ he says.

The ground floor and roof are subtly intertwined, with a combination of curves and lines that give the interior a sense of fluidity. Wood and concrete are present in all spaces, creating contrast and complementarity between the warmth of one and the rawness of the other. The materials also reference Dornier’s approach that blends influences from tropical modernism and industrial architecture. ‘The warped roof is a hyperbolic surface, and we materialised that by using steel for the frame and wood strip cladding for the ceiling,’ Dornier explains. ‘The strips reminded us of the keys of a piano, and more generally speaking they created a sequence and a sense of rhythm.’ 

‘Neutral and pastel colours offset the house from its environment,’ the architect adds. ‘The gesture evokes lightness and movement, which are an important feature of this home.’

In addition to being the owner’s permanent dwelling, for several months of the year the house also functions as an artist residency, hosting creative minds from all around the world in an environment designed to inspire.

Text / Karine Monié
Images / Tommaso Riva

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