SAOTA has completed its first project in Bali. Uluwatu, a resort-inspired home in Bali's iconic surf destination, puts a contemporary spin on local materiality and vernacular architecture to create a luxurious modern holiday home deeply attuned to its beautiful surroundings.
This getaway home, on the south-western tip of the Bukit Peninsula of Bali, Indonesia, is dramatically perched high on a limestone cliff edge. Ulu means 'land's end' and watu means 'rock,' which aptly describes the rugged beauty of the wild and arid peninsula. Uluwatu is also known for having some of the world's best surfing beaches, and its steep, rocky cliffs provide sought-after elevated ocean views.
SAOTA designed the house on a large east-west-oriented site facing the ocean on the eastern side. The scale of the site allowed for the design to accommodate a resort-inspired layout with separate suites and living spaces in a fragmented arrangement that weaves together indoor and outdoor spaces. A series of courtyards, gardens and other planted terraces are deftly woven into the architecture, combining structured and naturalistic planting and creating a sense that landscape and architecture are meaningfully integrated. In fact, the design was partly inspired by the way in which rocky ruins are, in time, reclaimed by the landscape, and come to seem almost as if they are part of it.
A large palm-lined entry courtyard creates a dramatic sense of arrival with a grand staircase floating over a cascading water feature. Monolithic stone-clad walls add a singular design statement to the experience of entering the house. The centralized entrance creates a focal point on arrival, where a lounge, dining room and covered terrace form the core of the cellular arrangement of buildings and pavilions, which radiate outwards, organically interspersed with planted courtyards and terraces. A large courtyard to the west provides an enclosed counterpoint to the vast views to the east.
Aesthetically and stylistically, SAOTA took inspiration from the local architecture's unique hybrid of mass and lightweight elements, evident in traditional temples as much as in contemporary buildings. The arrival areas of the house are characterized by large-scale, monumental mass walls featuring dark local stone cladding deeply scored by hand, in keeping with the scale and character of the house. Organic weathering imparts a sense of natural patina and materiality.
In the main living areas, the distinctive vernacular timber pavilions typical of Balinese architecture have been reinterpreted using glass curtain walling, and the local lightweight timber roofs have been re-envisioned as a floating concrete roof form, beautifully crafted with board-marked concrete. This subtly playful refence to the timberwork prevalent in the local architecture has once again been elevated in keeping with the scale of the project. The eye-catching slope of the roof is a climatically appropriate response to the east west-orientation of the house, inviting in the morning light and opening up ocean views to the east while providing shelter from the harsh afternoon light from the west.
Photography: Adam Letch