THEIR LOVE FOR THE TROPICS HAS INSPIRED NEW ZEALANDERS, ROGER AND LYN JARVIS, TO BUILD THEIR DREAM HOME IN MALAYSIA. FASCINATED WITH THE BEAUTY AND VERSATILITY OF TROPICAL TIMBERS, AND THE LURE OF THE MALAYSIA MY SECOND HOME (MM2H) PROGRAMME, ROGER AND LYN REALISED THEIR DREAM THROUGH “INSANAGA”, A CLUSTER OF WOODEN DWELLINGS, WHICH THEY BUILT IN PULAU LANGKAWI. TIMBER MALAYSIA VISITED THE JARVIS’ HOME TO EXPERIENCE THEIR TROPICAL HAVEN.
Roger and Lyn have always felt intrigued with all things Asian. “We have always loved Asian architecture, Asian art and furniture, and always dreamed of having a tropical home and garden,” said Lyn.
“We visited Malaysia on several occasions from 1994-1996 and had always felt drawn to her sunny charm and easy going tropical spirit,” she said, adding that their children and grandchildren live in four different parts of the world and Malaysia is a strategic location for all of them to come together for holidays and important occasions.
“We found out about the MM2H Programme and decided to make our dream a reality,” said Lyn, adding that the choice of Malaysia therefore came naturally.
That was in February 2006, and over the subsequent 10 months, they experimented with various Malaysian timbers to build Insanaga, which comprises one main house and two separate guest chalets. “The whole construction process took less than a year and we moved in on 1 November 2006,” said Lyn.
For Roger and Lyn, retired business people from New Zealand, the creation of Insanaga reflects their deep admiration for timber, especially tropical timbers. It is, therefore, not surprising that wood has been the material of choice for the construction of Insanaga.
Chengal columns support the main house and the chalets, which are raised several feet off the ground, enabling cross ventilation that lowers the
overall interior temperature. This is characteristic of traditional Malay house-building in the olden days, when air-conditioning was unheard of to help cool interiors on humid, sunny days.
At the entrance of the main house and the chalets, wide wooden stairs lead to a spacious veranda, which provides an ideal spot to catch the sunset against breathtaking views of the sea and mountains. The veranda epitomises the concept of intelligent tropical living.
Inside, above the main living quarters hangs an elaborate framework of wooden beams and trusses that support high pitched roofs. The framework of exposed wooden trusses enables air to circulate freely throughout the house.
There are also carvings around the house, on the curtain rails, balusters and doors. These carvings are the work of Roger himself. The living quarters have an open layout reminiscent of traditional Malay kampong houses.
Kekatong is the species used for the beams and trusses while Meranti is used for the wooden flooring throughout the house. The doors of the house are made of Merpauh while the walls are made of Chempa (hutan) or Medang.
On the cost of building the house, Lyn said that although timber is obviously more expensive than some other building materials, it was not a prohibitive factor.
She added that the timbers have all been treated with the best wood preservatives/sealers. “We keep the use of varnish to a minimum and use oil where we want a deeper coloured finish. Essentially though, we have kept the timber looking as natural as possible. So far, maintenance has been unnecessary,” said Lyn.
On what inspired the Jarvis to build a house made of wood, Lyn explained: “Roger has always loved timbers, and does sculpting in timber as a hobby. He was beginning to exhibit and sell his work before leaving New Zealand, and we have both been collecting carved art works from around the world for more than 25 years, many of which are still stored in New Zealand to be shipped here later.
“So, it was very important for us to build our house from a material which looks and feels luxurious and beautiful. We believe that timber grown in forests has an important place to be mainly sustainable so that we will always have wilderness areas to enjoy. It is also important that this natural product be enjoyed as art and in architecture,” concludes Lyn.