This Concrete Abode Embraces Indonesia's Tropical Climate

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By Lucy Wang
An Indonesian architect designs a contemporary concrete home for her family of five in Semarang.

When architect Tamara Wibowo decided to move back to her home country of Indonesia after living 12 years abroad in Minneapolis, the adjustment period came with an extra challenge: building a house from scratch for her family of five. 

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The Inside Outside house is a luxe family home that eschews a hermetic air-conditioned environment in favor of one that embraces nature and cross-breezes from all angles.

The Inside Outside house is a luxe family home that eschews a hermetic air-conditioned environment in favor of one that embraces nature and cross-breezes from all angles.

While the humid tropical climate initially proved a challenge for the U.S.–trained Indonesian architect, Wibowo successfully adapted to her new surroundings with the "Inside Outside" house. 

Transitional spaces were key in the design.

Transitional spaces were key in the design.

"This house was a little experiment and also a huge learning experience," explains Wibowo. "For as an American–taught Indonesian architect, the challenge was not being familiar with the construction system and the materials that are commonly used in Indonesia and learning about the tropical climate."

The decades-old mango tree informed the arrangement of the home.

The decades-old mango tree informed the arrangement of the home.

Located on a corner lot in the port city of Semarang, the 5,900-square-foot property comprises three volumes that are divided by function and arranged around a decades-old mango tree—a focal point that marks the arrival area with views of the inner courtyard

A look at the first floor of the House of Inside and Outside.

A look at the first floor of the House of Inside and Outside.

The three masses—separated into the primary living areas, service areas, as well as garage and office—are clad in cool concrete and oriented in the north-south direction to mitigate unwanted solar gain. 

Large openings, lined with teak and set back from the facade, open the interior to the outdoors and are positioned for the cross-breezes that stem from the Java Sea in the north.

The house contains four bedrooms, one of which is presently being converted into an office.

The house contains four bedrooms, one of which is presently being converted into an office.

"Being back in Indonesia, our family wanted a house that allows us to enjoy as much sun as possible without being too warm in the house, and a house that breaths and opens up to nature," says Wibowo, who sought to blur the boundaries between indoors and out. 

"The house focuses on creating sequence of experience that brings the focus back to nature through spatial overlapping of indoor rooms and outdoor rooms and presents the light coming through the skylights and large openings."

The bedroom on the second floor has a treehouse-like feel.

The bedroom on the second floor has a treehouse-like feel.

Deep overhangs keep the harsh sun at bay.

Deep overhangs keep the harsh sun at bay.

Raw concrete walls and polished concrete floors are used in the interior to form a neutral backdrop for the built-in wood furniture, along with the colorful rugs and artwork.

Raw concrete walls and polished concrete floors are used in the interior to form a neutral backdrop for the built-in wood furniture, along with the colorful rugs and artwork.

Operable full-height glazing opens the dining room up on both sides.

Operable full-height glazing opens the dining room up on both sides.

The dining room—the family’s favorite room—best envelopes Wibowo's vision for the house, as it is fitted with floor-to-ceiling operable glass on both sides to open the space to greenery, natural light, and wind. 

Although the family loves the entire residence, the dining room is their favorite room.

Although the family loves the entire residence, the dining room is their favorite room.

Geometric Tegel Kunci clay tiles line the floor, while white pendant lights complete the room’s subtle floral finish. 

A look at the plan for the ground floor of the House of Inside and Outside.

A look at the plan for the ground floor of the House of Inside and Outside.

Here's the plan for the second floor of the House of Inside and Outside.

Here's the plan for the second floor of the House of Inside and Outside.

Project Credits:

Architect of Record: Tamara Wibowo Architects

General Contractor: LL Contractor

Structural Engineer: Teddy Suryadinata

Lighting Design: Terang Sejahtera Jaya

Interior Design: Tamara Wibowo Architects

Cabinetry Design: Asia Furniture