Volcanoes have a reputation for being destructive, but in their wake, they may also spawn new life and create beautiful landscapes.
Rumah Fajar, located in the Ubud rainforest and designed by architect Maximilian Jencquel as a contemporary adaptation of a traditional Balinese longhouse for his own family, is the place where this may be observed most clearly.
The four-bedroom villa, which is situated on a slope along the valley of the Campuhan River and overlooks the island’s Mount Agung volcano, was constructed in 2017, around the same time that the volcano began its most recent eruption. The land on which the villa is situated measures 20,500 square feet.
“We were in the middle of building all these walls with the lava stone, and the supply for the lava stone comes from the volcano so it was providing us with more material to build the house,” said Jencquel, who runs a boutique studio in Ubud where he designs homes featuring Balinese vernacular architecture. Jencquel’s work is featured in a number of publications, including Architectural Digest and Architectural Record, and has won numerous awards. There was this conception that Mother Nature was providing us with the resources that we required in order to construct the house.
The construction of the house took several years, and it definitely contains a lot of materials that are connected to the ground and fire in some way, such as the bricks that were baked in an oven. The color of the bricks, which is a dark red, is meant to depict both the hues of the sunrise and the color of the volcano.
“The wood has been scorched, which is also connected to the concept of a volcanic eruption, and the color of the red brick reminds us of the lava flow that we saw in real time as we were building. In the nights, my family and I would come here to watch Mount Agung erupt, and there would be this radiance emanating from the mountain,” Jencquel explained.
The setting was also taken into consideration when naming the establishment Rumah Fajar, which literally translates to “House of Dawn.” The comment was made by Jencquel’s wife, Stefanie, who stated, “We love this neighborhood. We adore the valley as well as the view, particularly the dawn. The sunrises here are among the most breathtaking. It is the most enjoyable part of the day right now.”
Jencquel, who was born in Venezuela, traveled to Bali for the first time in 2008 and immediately fell in love with the island and the culture there. Because of his fascination with the architecture and layout of ancient Balinese compounds, he decided to launch his design firm in Ubud, which is widely recognized as the cultural center of the island. It should come as no surprise that his house contains a number of traits that are typical of Balinese residences.
At the front of the property is a classic piece of Balinese architecture called the Ankul-Ankul gate. Jencquel added that once one passes through the small gate, one finds themselves in a space that is reminiscent of a rabbit hole from the book Alice in Wonderland. Next, there is a structure known as the Aling-Aling, which can be found just beyond the gate. Its purpose is to throw off and frighten away evil spirits. To get to the other parts of the property, one has to cross a bridge and then stroll through a garden that has been well planted. He made a witty remark by saying, “We chose to make it zig zag, to get any spirits a little bit dizzy.”
The tropical gardens, which were planned by Jencquel himself, have a stunning koi pond and a broad range of plants, such as coconut palms, heliconias, and orchids, that evoke a sense of awe in visitors. Spending time here or hanging out in the pool is something that their children particularly enjoy doing.
His observation was that “I think the children are incredibly fortunate to grow up with so much nature around them, to have these open views, and not to be caged inside a space. I think the children are very fortunate to grow up with so much nature around them. They have a really deep link to nature and to animals like the insects, lizards, and the fish in the pond – all of this is very much a part of how they are growing up. All of this is very much a part of how they are developing their sense of empathy and compassion.”
The two-story house has wooden slats for wall covering, which allow for natural ventilation and keep the house cool throughout the year. Because the living room and dining area can be opened up into a single huge room from the front entrance, this location is perfect for hosting get-togethers with friends and family as well as other types of gatherings.
“You feel like you are in a cocoon when you are inside, so even when there is heavy rain, you still feel incredibly comfortable,” said Stefanie. “You have a wide open view in front of you, but you feel like you are in a cocoon when you are inside.”
The indoor-outdoor concept is carried through to the kitchen, which, according to Stefanie, is her favorite kitchen out of all of the homes that they have lived in as a family so far. The use of wooden slats, much like those in the living area, helps to keep the area well aired, and the use of exquisite Italian Carrara marble counters provides an abundance of space for preparing food. In addition, there are high-end appliances in this kitchen, such as an induction cooktop by Bertazzoni, an oven by Bosch, and a refrigerator with French doors.
She explained, “You get fresh air from the outside, but it’s not too open, and you can use the two countertops extremely nicely.”
In her mind, the kitchen is also a metaphor for the home’s symbolic heart. She shared her thoughts by stating, “When we formed a family, I genuinely felt that I wanted to dine at home with my family. I want to have what my mother gave to me, and a house doesn’t feel like a home unless you and your family are able to eat there.”
Because of the picture-perfect home and the carefree way of life that the Jencquel family enjoys here, several of the couple’s acquaintances have inquired about the possibility of purchasing the land from them. “When people and friends of ours who are familiar with us and have been here on the island would see the house, their reaction would be something along the lines of, ‘Wow! This is hands down the nicest home any of us had ever visited.’ It provides an additional dimension to the adventure as a whole,” Jencquel explained.
It is also an acknowledgment of the fact that his aesthetic sensibilities and the way that he and his wife live in peace with nature serve as an example to others. He made the following statement: “We have built a lifestyle that people are coming into, and that is a beautiful thing.”