Fabian Tan Architect, Malaysia: Wallpaper* Architects' Directory 2021

Fabian Tan Architect is revealed as part of the Wallpaper* Architects' Directory 2021, representing his home country, Malaysia

traditional house with quirky concrete barrel vaulted extension at Bewboc house in Malaysia by Fabian Tan Architect
(Image credit: Ceavs Chua)

Here, we zoom into Fabian Tan's Bewboc House project, a stand-out, minimalist renovation and extension in Kuala Lumpur.

Who: Fabian Tan Architect

Fabian Tan leads a small team of architects at his Kuala Lumpur headquarters, creating innovative home designs with a unique character throughout Malaysia. Founded in 2012, the emerging studio focuses on residential work but designs in a large variety of scales and typologies - including from institutional, commercial and interior projects to art pieces, furniture and installations. 

Drawing inspiration from ‘the spirituality of the site', Tan produces elegant, minimalist work - in a pared down style that is far beyond an aesthetic decision. One of his recent works, Bewboc House (see below) demonstrates this approach that is led by the relationship between light, material and volume, and spatial flow. Homes should be a haven of calm, where we can escape our ‘hectic and noise-filled era,' Tan stresses. 

‘Our approach to architecture has been one that involves evolution and flexibility; ideas that are formed in the conception of a project and never impose anything on the site. Throughout, conventions are constantly reassessed, resulting in individual variations of concepts meant for a specific context. Thus, repetitions of styles are not allowed in our office. We are assumed to be minimalist but really we prefer the term ‘essentialist',' says Tan.

Bewboc house in Malaysia with front doors open and closed

(Image credit: Ceavs Chua)

What: Bewboc House

The slim, minimalist outline of a concrete round roof structure clearly stands out in its sleepy suburban neighbourhood in Kuala Lumpur. This is Bewboc house, a redesigned family home by Fabian Tan, which makes the most of its generous site in reimagining a relatively conventional existing terrace structure into a clean, light filled, pared down home. 

Tasked with repurposing the house's ground level areas and designing an addition to this corner home, Tan decided to contrast the original building on site and its fairly traditional neighbours, with a new volume that feels balanced and elegant, but at the same time bold. Placing the new structure at an angle, in plan, to the existing one, marks a ‘break' between old and new, making the vaulted annex stand out even more. 

Inside it, a generous, triple height ceiling living space occupies most of the floorspace, while a mezzanine above provides a more intimate seating area and study. An oversized double door opens up towards the garden, fully uniting inside and outside, connecting with nature. Playful touches, such as the inverted arch window at the side of the extension, and carefully planned openings that allow a light play throughout the interiors, make for a dynamic and exciting experience. ‘[It is] reminiscent of a journey through a cave, perhaps to see the light at the end of the tunnel,' says Tan.

Bewboc house in Malaysia within the concrete extension looking out

(Image credit: Ceavs Chua)

Why: Wallpaper* Architects Directory 2021

Conceived in 2000 as our index of emerging architectural talent, the Wallpaper* Architects Directory is our magazine’s annual listing of promising practices from across the globe. The project has, over the years, spanned styles and continents; while always championing the best and most exciting young studios and showcasing inspiring work with an emphasis on the residential realm. Now including over-500 alumni and counting, the Architects Directory is back for its 21st edition. Join us, as we launch this year’s survey - twenty young studios from India, UK, USA, Nigeria, Ghana, China, Malaysia, Indonesia, Mexico, Canada, The Netherlands, Japan, South Korea, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Colombia and Australia, with plenty of promise, ideas and exciting architecture.

Bewboc house in Malaysia within the extension looking towards barrel vaulted roof

(Image credit: Ceavs Chua)

study under the concrete barrel vaulted roof at Bewboc house in Malaysia

(Image credit: Ceavs Chua)

minimalist white entrance at Bewboc house in Malaysia

(Image credit: Ceavs Chua)



Ellie Stathaki is the Architecture & Environment Director at Wallpaper*. She trained as an architect at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece and studied architectural history at the Bartlett in London. Now an established journalist, she has been a member of the Wallpaper* team since 2006, visiting buildings across the globe and interviewing leading architects such as Tadao Ando and Rem Koolhaas. Ellie has also taken part in judging panels, moderated events, curated shows and contributed in books, such as The Contemporary House (Thames & Hudson, 2018), Glenn Sestig Architecture Diary (2020) and House London (2022).

With contributions from