The Architect

John Bulcock is a Malaysia-based British architect, and principal at The Design Unit.

We chose him for the project because we liked how his past work emphasised space, sustainability and nature – priorities we shared.

Here’s how he approached the job.

“The intention was to create an energy-efficient, low maintenance, psychologically stimulating environment that maximised contact with nature, landscape and views.

It was important that the house design should keep the site as undisturbed as possible, with no cut & fill of the land and with existing site contours and trees retained. Further it was important that the structure be integrated into the slope, becoming part of the landscape to maximize contact with nature and keep the site as green as possible.


The structure is conceived as a series of spaces under one roof, surrounded by nature. All areas, including the living, dining, bedrooms and bathrooms open onto both green courtyards and the landscape, allowing contact with light, breeze and greenery at all times, while affording privacy.

These spaces are sheltered by a green-planted roof plane that is punctured by numerous openings, creating unity within the house below while blurring the distinction between house and landscape when viewed from above.


This is principally a ‘passive’ house, designed to save energy by encouraging minimal air-con use while flooding the interior with diffused natural light.

It is constructed of off-form concrete and fairface brick and ‘wrapped’ in coconut tree-trunk screens, and all structure and materials are openly expressed in the design. The warmth of the timber doors contrasts with the raw organic quality of both the fair-face brick and concrete and the natural coconut-column screens, allowing the house to explains itself to us, what it is made of and how it is put together.


The house is approached on foot down a sloping site towards the ocean. All that is visible among the coconut trees when approaching is the green roof garden, the natural landscape and hints of raw brick and coconut tree columns.

Lifting up from the roof-garden is the entry-way, which leads us down into a cool tunnel of natural brickwork and slopes away towards the front of house, finally opening out onto a stunning vista: an open sided living space gives onto the long infinity pool and the wide ocean and sky beyond as the landscape falls away down to the beach below.

Plants and landscape are such an integral part of this space, growing within and through the structure itself, that the overall experience is truly of living outdoors, under cover.

The bedrooms are both within the house and yet set aside, such as to allow a sense of integration and privacy. Each opens onto both green courtyards and its own balcony and the garden beyond. The kitchen and work areas are set away from the main structure.

The pool is situated on the steepest part of the slope, the infinity edge seeming to to merge with ocean beyond and offering an uninterrupted panorama.

Environmental Planning

The house has been constructed entirely from locally available materials and by local artisans.

From the start, the open concept was designed to eliminate the need for artificial lighting, as natural, diffused light floods the living spaces through the coconut-column sunscreens and the spaces in the roof. 

The green grass roof plane, the large over-hangs and naturally shaded side walls all reduce solar radiation into the house, and natural ventilation creates thermally comfortable internal and external spaces to reduce dependency on air-conditioning.

Rainwater is collected from the villa’s roof and is allowed to cascade from the roof via a number of stainless steel spouts down to pebble covered catchment sumps at ground level. From these sumps the water is channeled to an underground concrete storage tank to supply the landscape water requirements throughout the year.”



Share This


Copyright © 2014 The Walatta House. All Rights Reserved

Designed by HermesThemes