FeatureMY INTERIOR LIFE

The Zen Zone

Written by Naila Binte Zakaria

Architect couple Rafiq Azam and Zannat Jui’s residence in Dhaka focuses on space utilization and functionality, dealing with the relations between human and air, wind, water and sunlight, rather than decoration and furnishing of the space.

Through making full use of natural light as well as adopting an austere material palette, the stunning adobe was transformed into a minimalist and refreshing sanctuary.


The space was designed from scratch by Architect Zannat Jui, who wanted to represent her personal aesthetic and philosophy through her home design. As a professional, she likes to constantly challenge herself and thrive in every field she practices. That is perhaps the reason why she chose the career path of architecture. Aside from architecture, she takes interest in filmmaking and photography, having directed a number of documentaries and winning awards in architectural photography competitions.

To Zannat Jui, home is where one feels at peace. She believes an abode to be the reflection of the personality of people residing in it. The couple resides in this house with their daughter, Juwayria. After the stress of everyday life, home is where they wind down and spend time catching up.

Hence, the aim was to create a tailor-made residence with maximum comfort and peace to slow down the pace of life. Maximum comfort and peace were to be achieved through the design. “Some houses are so high maintenance that the owners often have to leave their jobs and become homemakers. I chose a minimalist approach for my home because I didn’t want to stress about the maintenance. After a busy day at work, my home exudes a sense of relief in my mind”, explains Zannat Jui.

The simplistic residence operates similarly to a neutral canvas, where spaces flow from end to end with continuity of materials that favour fluid transitions. The overall space is composed of a living room, a dining space, a study, a guest room and two bedrooms, catering to the needs of the owners. The living room, study and the dining space are connected in an open area, which facilitates the interaction of the family.

A comfortable feel was injected to the home by adding minimalist furniture, soothing and soft colour schemes and elements of feng shui, creating a unified impression. A limited material palette of white and black tiles, white paint and wood helped to achieve a minimalist and austere aesthetic in the overall space.

The house takes advantage of home automation technology, further helping to keep the space clutter-free. Some corners of the house are adorned with carefully chosen knick-knacks from travels. A feature wall comprises of a collection of early doodles sketched by Rafiq Azam.

Zannat Jui wanted the space to evoke the feeling one gets in a rural setting by incorporating natural elements like plants, water, earth etc. As one enters the house, the living room catches the immediate attention of the visitors. The elevated zone of the living room has an indoor water feature that creates a soothing aura, defining the Zen style.

“The sound of water is quite meditative for me. At night, when silence fills the area, the relaxing sound of the water flowing adds a tranquil effect”, says Zannat Jui. The larger than life contemporary artwork of Manik Bonik and reflective illumination on the floor creates a gorgeous backdrop in this zone. Since the living room is south-facing, bamboos were planted here so that they receive optimum sunlight.

Apart from adding aesthetic value, the plants double as a privacy screening for our living room. Most cabinets and furniture are merged with the walls which create a free flow in the space, keeping all the personal materials out of sight.


Evidently, the couple’s architectural ideology is depicted through their residence, focusing on simplicity and the flow of movement of energy within the space. The aesthetic is designed to eliminate clutter from life; instead of thinking in terms of decoration, getting rid of the non-essential. Zannat Jui stresses on the adage by Jalaluddin Rumi, “Act like a tree, drop the dead leaves”.

Similarly, her home design is all about restraint, simple surroundings and forgetting gaudy, ornate and over-embellished trimmings. It is an aesthetic that helps to achieve the ultimate sophistication and peace of mind.

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