the ‘planter box house,’ designed by malaysian office FORMZERO, celebrates a sustainable, self-sufficient lifestyle. while the project employs multiple passive design strategies, the structure, comprised of clustered concrete planter boxes, houses the growth of over 40 types of edible plants. these boxes introduce a lush, urban landscape while offering the house a system of stormwater retention and an irrigation reservoir. the house was designed for a retired couple with a passion for growing food. as the plants which fill the planter box house appear less defined, the appearance of the house oscillates between garden, farm, and building — offering a new model for the contemporary tropical house.

formzero planter box house
images and drawings by ameen deen

 

 

the lush plant life throughout the cascading concrete planter boxes of the FORMZERO project creates a strong visual contrast among the adjacent buildings. this cluster extends outward to the sidewalk as the first planter box was constructed to house a pre-existing jasmine tree and introduce an element of urban furniture. this generates a connection between the formal language of the house with its context. the interior spaces are expressive of the owner’s attitude toward hospitality and tropical, sustainable, urban community living and farming. the open ground floor, with only glass partitions, is filled with light and cross ventilation. double-height spaces, interior windows, and full height glass walls provide an openness while allowing the integrated greenery to penetrate the interior.

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taking influence from the vernacular tropical house, split bamboo sourced from the indigenous ‘temuan’ people is used as formwork for the fabrication of the concrete boxes. while this bamboo texture introduces an organic formal quality, it offers a sustainable, low maintenance finish which will age well over time and exposure to the elements.
 while the planter box house is a formal expression of the owner’s lifestyle, it provides a platform for continuous learning and experimentation. this project serves as a valuable opportunity and experience not only for the owner to learn to farm in a tropical urban setting, but also for the surrounding community.

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project info:

 

project name: planter box house

architecture firm: FORMZERO

lead architect: lee cherng yih

location: kuala lumpur, malaysia

use: single family house

contractor: jaya bintang

photography + drawings: ameen deen