A CONVERSATION WITH ERNESTO BEDMAR ( E B ) AND THE OWNER ( T O )
How did the project of The Jiva Puri come about?
T O: My wife and I have been visiting Bali at least once a year for the last twenty years, and finally decided at some point that we needed to have a home of our own in our favorite destination. Having travelled extensively around the world and experienced living at some of the best hotels and resorts, we at first thought to buy a villa in a managed complex such as the Four Seasons or the Aman. We found however that while the villas were very well done, they were small and formulaic and we were inclined for a somewhat more spacious home. We thus decided to look for our own private land…and it took us a little over five years to find what turned to out be the perfect piece.
What lead to the appointment of Bedmar & Shi for its conception?
E B: The client was looking for architects in Singapore and our name came up as we designed many tropical related buildings.
T O: Well, after some uninspiring review of a number of architects in Bali, we were introduced to Ernesto through a friend in Singapore and took to him at our first meeting. Ernesto however is a busy man with a forward calendar of projects running into years. Having been inspired by Bali for over 25 years, he nonetheless had not yet considered any project on the island and did not want to build something that was additive.
So the first challenge was to persuade him to take on our project. Fortunately he fell in love with the site upon his first visit to our land!
What were the most inspiring/prominent elements of the brief given for the conceptualisation of the villa?
T O: We were clear that while we wanted a home that reflected Bali’s traditions, we wanted a feeling of light, air and space that is more common with modern living. We also truly feel that food is a critical part of an enjoyable holiday and wanted to ensure that appropriate allocation was given to allow for inspired cooking productions.
E B: In addition to traditional and integrative architecture lay outs, light and space were most assertively an important part of the brief. The most inspiring element of the brief however, was the site itself and its stunning location! The guest pavilions were rather difficult element to achieve, as we were not able to provide them with views, and thus needed to come up with a solution of internal views. This at the end became a plus for the project and a truly enjoyable challenge.
What “living” did you envision taking place in it?
T O: Since this was a home for us to enjoy not only alone, but very much as well with our family and friends, it was important that our guests spend time with us in the common areas of the living pavilions, swimming pool bale and gardens as opposed to be cloistered in their pavilions. Yet gorgeous private quarters for all, in which to retreat when desired, was essential.
E B: Yes from Day 1, it was clear that this was to be a holiday home with a very relaxed atmosphere and, to some extent, a very communal living, while remaining very private in terms of the individual buildings.
How did that translate in the design?
E B: Well I trust this is very clear in the distribution of both public and private areas and the perceptible flow that reigns between them.
T O: Indeed, while we spend many days on our own, it’s a genuine retreat – Quiet and tranquil, inspiring. Oftentimes, however, we have guests staying with us and we love throwing large parties. The flow of the house accommodates all that.
What defined the choice of material?
T O: We wanted to keep it simple yet elegant. I fell in love with the old ironwood pillars that I saw many years ago in Jakarta and had asked Ernesto to incorporate it in the design – he went a step further and had it as the main supporting beams! After that the other material fell in place – the polished cement, the teak wood and the local stone.
E B: To go along with the brief’s requirement on respecting traditional architecture, we simply directed our choices 100% on the availability of local materials and the traditional way of using them.
Since it was handed over to be lived in, how do you feel the house has grown?
T O: In three years, thanks to the climate of these latitudes, the landscape has matured tremendously and simply looks gorgeous. It is however more us, rather than the house, that have grown into it, each with our favoured spots and activities.
With a book solely dedicated to its architecture, one would say the Jiva Puri is becoming an icon of lavish tropical architecture; in your opinion, what makes it so?
T O: Quite honestly we don’t look at it that way – to us it’s our home in Bali. We are immensely proud that there’s a book on the design and architecture obviously, but that’s the domain of the professionals.
E B: The only thing I would like to say is that we made a big attempt to recreate a modern living with a very traditional architectural concept, perhaps this is what makes Jiva Puri attractive to people: that amidst the modernity, you know you are in Bali.
Last can you please describe the essence of the villa’s “character”?
T O: Simple, Elegant and Tranquil.
E B: Harmony