Planter Box House in Malaysia by Formzero Allows Residents Grow Their Own Food

Project Name
Planter Box House
Ameen Deen

Designed as a home for a retired couple who are passionate about growing food, the planter box house celebrates a sustainable and self sufficient lifestyle by blending the functionalities of a garden, farm and house, creating a new typology of contemporary tropical house.

The 340 sqm house features multiple passive design strategies that make for a low energy home. The most prominent feature would be its cascading concrete planter boxes occupied with more than 40 types of edible plants on every floor, that create a strong visual contrast with the surrounding buildings. The planter boxes also serves as storm water retention and irrigation reservoir. Its recessed frontage provides additional public spaces for inter-neighborhood interaction. Beyond the boundary, the first planter box is built around an existing jasmine tree. This planter serves an urban furniture, a connection between the couple and their neighbour. 

The internal spaces are imbued with a strong sense of hospitality and the owner’s attitude towards tropical sustainable urban community living and farming. Upon opening the gate, one could experience the light and cross ventilation while also able to read the whole ground floor visually as there are only glass walls and window in between the front and the back. Separated by the living room and the central staircase of the house, the back of the building is celebrated with a double volume kitchen and dining area with full height glass window that could open outwards towards a green wall at the back.

Taking inspiration from the vernacular tropical house, split bamboo produced by the indigenous people called Temuan from Negeri Sembilan is used as formwork for the concrete work of the planter boxes. While this bamboo texture signifies an abstract organic form of the house, it is also a sustainable solution to low maintenance finish that could age well with the rain and urban pollution.   

The Planter Box House is a physical representation of the owner’s lifestyle. It is also a knowledge platform in which the married couple constantly improvises the irrigation and planting system. Such custom made irrigation system is interconnected between the planter boxes that stores and recycles nutritious resources and rainwater within the land. It also allows full and precise manipulation of the planter box from the soil composition to the level of water being supplied to each individual planter box. This project serves as a valuable opportunity and experience not only for the client to learn about farming in tropical setting, but also for the surrounding community. The life of the building is expected to be continually improved, developed and grows organically along with the married couple.

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