Regenerative living in the tropics
Lucie and Tanguy’s GHome, in Bali
We moved to Bali end of 2019, just before the pandemic hit. During our very first road trip across the island, we met Tony Gwiliam in Padangbai, who showed us the GHome prototype there. We instantly knew that if we were ever to build a home on the island, it would be a GHome. One year later, we decided to settle in Bali and create our own permaculture farm – for our own food production, learning and experimenting with the locals and to inspire them to once again reconnect with the source of their food. Thus began the house’s design process with Tony.
Name of project
GHome with greenhouse second module
12mx6mx6m, approx. 130sqm
Tabanan, Bali, Indonesia
Feb 2021 – July 2021
Tony Gwiliam and Oka Marta
Owner and contact
Lucie and Tanguy, Instagram @traveltokisshim
Total land size is 1.470 square meters, whereas the house footprint is only 72 square meters. The vast majority of land space if dedicated to a vast permaculture system.
The house faces South toward the sea (about 400m from the beach). Wind blows from East to West half of the year and West to East the other half, so both these sides of the house we kept as open as possible for air flow. The result is no energy consumption for cooling. The entire West side of the house is open and netted using industrial insect net. The house is free of insects and mosquitos year-round – a very important feature for the owners.
The house is built of what was a flat and wet site with poor drainage due to heavy clay soil and adjacent rice paddies.
To solve this problem, a rainwater, graywater and blackwater evacuation and filtration ditch was created around the house, filtering and leading water into a rain garden planted with vetiver grass and reeds and outfitted with an automatic sump pump in case of heavy rains.
Main structure is 15cmx15cm steel beams, factory prefabricated and welded on site. Roof beams lattice structure to give bracing.
The walls are made of local red brick.
Flooring is gypsum boards and tiles on the ground floor and recycled ironwood supported by steel joists on the mezzanine. Ceiling is gypsum board.
Roof is locally-manufactured white Alderon twinwall corrugated sheets, providing strong thermal and acoustic insulation.
Conclusions and recommendations
The GHome concept provides an enormous amount of flexibility and personalization options that were decisive in our choice. After being very hands-on during the construction and living in the house for over 6 months some of the key advantages we can mention are:
- Rapid construction: construction of the house actually took only 4 months, as we had a one-month holiday break due to Muslim holidays (most construction workers in Bali are Muslims from Java).
- Little margin for error and easy maintenance: the simplicity of the design and the “service box” concept, where all the plumbing and electrical complexity is concentrated in one space make building a GHome particularly risk-free. This was a crucial aspect as we had no experience in construction and did not know our contractors’ capabilities beforehand. This point also applies for future maintenance – if anything needs changing or repair, the elements are easy to identify and access from behind the house.
- Cost-effectiveness: we know from initial cost simulations that using traditional building design and materials would have cost approximately 35% more and in additional would have allowed for less space, light and airflow in the house, as support beams would be larger and more numerous. For such a robust dwelling that feels durable and adapted to harsh and humid weather, the cost savings of building a GHome make it a compelling option.
- An indescribable feeling: many time during the design phase, our architect Tony Gwiliam reminded us to keep things simple and minimal. The process itself of building a GHome is truly liberating and clarifies what a home should be for you as a unique individual, with unique activities and needs. In our case, the living room gives way for gym and yoga sessions, the indoor garden for playing with our dogs and enjoying the evening breeze without the hinderance of mosquitos and the netted floor above the living room is our indoor/outdoor home cinema space. The connexion with nature is constant and we are reminded that it should be. At night, lying in bed we can admire the stars, hear the sounds of the busy wildlife in the jungle behind the house. The GHome is a part of its environment and reinforces the feeling of oneness with it.
Recommendations for anyone planning to build a GHome would be:
- Use good materials. The house doesn’t use a lot of materials for construction, relative to conventional houses. So when you do use materials, use good ones. An example is the roofing material we used. I was the most expensive option offered by our contractors and presented as an “innovative” solution. But it turns out to be very well worth the extra spending, especially in terms of accosting insulation during the long, hard rainy season downpours.
- Keep in mind access for cleaning. The building being 6m high, it is difficult to easily access windows and the steel beams themselves, the latter needing cleaning every 6 months in our experience due to spiderwebs and dust.
- Consider your first build a Version 1. We have already made a few minor modification to the design since we moved in, and surely more will follow. Embrace the flexibility of the GHome and its ability to adapt to your experience of living in the home, rather than trying to plan everything in advance.
- Go for it, it’s a life-changing experience !