Busy working on a pharmaceutical office in a southern port city across the sea from Taiwan, design director Xu Fu-Min received a phone call about a very different kind of project nearby. The client asked Xu to visit the site of his future family home—a weedy hillside that, on first glance, seemed less than enticing. But what intrigued Xu was an enormous boulder, 10 feet across, sitting smack in the middle of the 1-acre property. “I insisted we keep it,” he says. Around it, he proceeded to design a 4,200-square-foot house.
Humble and pure were the project’s guiding words. Respect for nature was also paramount, starting with the courtyard’s reclaimed flagstones, which wend their way around the existing trees. “People live in rural areas as children, then move to the city in pursuit of a luxurious life—only to discover that the usual luxury becomes superficial,” Xu continues. A live-edge slab of ash wood tops the dining table, paired with Hans Wegner chairs. Sybaritic yet worlds away from city-slick is the master bathroom. Inside a frameless glass box, a sunken tub of poured-in-place concrete contains the very boulder he had so admired on that first visit. Worn by the weather, over time, the stone surface is as smooth as skin.