When is a Hotel not a Hotel?


When it’s the Kamandalu in Ubud, Bali. One of the interesting things about architects (or possibly annoying if you are one of our spouses) is we live and breathe architecture. So much so that we often plan our vacations around buildings we wish to see and places we wish to experience. This is one of those places.

The Kamandalu is built as a small village with individual thatched “huts” instead of typical shoe-box hotel rooms. It’s not kitschy like a Disney environment, but uses indigenous building materials and traditional construction techniques to create an amazing, tranquil landscape. How many hotels feature early morning strolls along misty, meandering paths, shadowed by the occasional monkey?

And, yes, there is a pool if you’re into that kind of thing 😉

Tim & Robyn Bjella, Kamandalu, Bali
Tim & Robyn Bjella, Kamandalu, Bali

The Magically Floating Roof – Modern house Ladue, Missouri

IMG_1028 Adjusted

Notice the roof of this house appears to float above the walls. Aside from the obvious aesthetic appeal, the transparent glass gap between the walls and the roof allow the interior to “seep” outside and the outside to “flow” inside the house. This has the affect of making the interior spaces appear visually larger to the people within because their perception of space is not completely stopped by the walls. They may look over and around the walls. To achieve this, we constructed a steel frame within the home, set back from the exterior walls (much like the core of a skyscraper), that holds up the roof and floors. It also stiffens the home and prevents it from folding like a proverbial house of cards.

See more of my work at Arteriors Architecture.

Sketch Break – Falling Water

Tim Bjella Sketches-Falling Water

This spring I finally made the obligatory architectural pilgrimage to one of the greatest homes ever designed by the master, Frank Lloyd Wright, in Bear Run, Pennsylvania. This extraordinary home, perched above a cascading creek, nestled into the site, must be experienced in person. Pictures simply cannot do it justice. Of course, I tried anyway. Here is my sketch.

Sometimes people think that the sketch itself is the end game. But, in fact, it is the act of sketching that is the reward. The quality of the sketch is mostly irrelevant. Because I spent a few minutes focused and completely aware of my surroundings, almost meditatively, I will forever have the memory etched into my mind of sitting on a boulder below the falls with the breeze whispering through the trees, the birds chirping and swooping around the home and the inexpressible tranquility of the place. You simply cannot get that from taking a quick snapshot.


Designing In-between


Quick sketches deconstructing the traditional gable home – just asking the question “how much can you break apart the design of a traditional home and still retain the iconic essence of a house?” At what point does the home become a modern sculpture and lose whatever it is that says to people “I’m a house”?

While I love and embrace modern, sculptural homes that look nothing at all like traditional homes, I am fascinated by design that falls in between. It is easy to design a traditional home, following historical rules, or a modern home with no aesthetic constraints, but designing a unique home that defies categorization? Now, that is a challenge worth exploring.

The Dutch Door is Back!

Well, maybe not back exactly. But, we finally designed our first Dutch door for a home in Missouri. You rarely see these anymore, not since Mr. Ed, anyway. Today, homes are designed for energy efficiency and are effectively hermetically sealed. In our zeal to keep the cold or warm in and the bugs out, we have lost one of the most uplifting experiences of living in a home, the open connection between the indoors and outdoors (did you get the pun, there?).

We designed with this in mind, of course, but received an unexpected bonus: a favorite perch for the family cat. Now that feels like home!

Dutch door by Tim Bjella, Arteriors Architects

See more of my work at Arteriors / Bjella Architecture.

The Perfect Pen

A pen is an integral part of my life, almost a permanent extension of my hand. As such, it must feel good, write and sketch well and, of course, look beautiful. It must be a joy to use and elevate my work. It must call to me in my dreams and make me want cuddle up next to it (there’s still room for you too, Robyn). I have never met a ballpoint pen that can do this.

THIS is not a ballpoint pen. This pen incorporates the Pilot Hi-Tec-C – the most beloved, precision ink delivery system of architects throughout the world.

Pen Type-B

The pen by CW&T is Simple, Minimal, Elegant, Timeless, Solid… and most important, ages to a beautiful patina. It is not a pen to display in a cabinet for fear it might be scuffed, but one whose beauty increases with use and wear over a lifetime. It is a stainless steel and brass heirloom for your kids to fight over – but only if they eat their vegetables.