Bun­ga­low ar­chi­tec­ture blooms

Think­ing out of the con­crete box, ar­chi­tects be­hind three Sin­ga­porean homes have put their own spin on unique structues.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - Spaces - By NATASHA ANN ZACHARIAH

AT this bun­ga­low off Dun­earn Road, Sin­ga­pore, it’s hard to tell where the gar­den ends and the house be­gins.

The long pas­sage­way – de­signed to run down the side of the house for feng shui rea­sons – that leads to the main door is dec­o­rated with trop­i­cal plants such as the bright red Heli­co­nia marginata, the blood banana plant with its pat­terned leaves, and an old white frangi­pani tree.

The roofs of the car porch and pa­tio, which are next to each other, are blan­keted with shrubs and small plants. A bal­cony on the se­cond level over­looks this mini gar­den and has a long bench built in, where one can rest and en­joy the green­ery.

Rows of Ver­nonia el­lip­tica ,a creeper, cas­cade from the pa­tio roof, cre­at­ing a green “cur­tain” that par­tially shields the house from the main road.

Be­yond the pa­tio is a gar­den that is now home to two old trees: A tall Dal­ber­gia oliv­eri, with its droopy branches and leaves; and a dense and lay­ered Bu­cida mo­lineti, sal­vaged from an empty piece of land that was be­ing pre­pared for a new de­vel­op­ment.

To­wards the back of the house, a small court­yard is sand­wiched be­tween the liv­ing and dining rooms. A tall frangi­pani tree stands ma­jes­ti­cally in the cen­tre, with a pond sur­round­ing it.

The bun­ga­low’s ar­chi­tect, Yong Ai Loon of ar­chi­tec­ture con­sul­tancy firm Timur De­signs, ex­plains that “The house is a back­drop for the gar­den”.

While many home own­ers shy away from hav­ing lots of green­ery as plants can be hard to main­tain, this owner – a busi­ness­man – pushed Yong for a plant-filled abode.

So she worked with John Tan, owner of Es­mond Land­scape and Hor­ti­cul­tural, to make the owner’s green dream a re­al­ity.

Tan says: “The owner wanted plants to be a big part of his home, so I got in­volved right from the start. For him, get­ting the plants in was not an af­ter­thought.”

The 929sq m house has two storeys, an at­tic, and a base­ment. The old house that stood in its place was torn down and the new build­ing – now home to the owner, his wife and their two chil­dren – went up in about 15 months.

Yong and Tan’s col­lec­tive green­ing ef­fort was re­warded when the house re­cently won the Gold and Best of Cat­e­gory awards in the De­sign and Build seg­ment at the Land­scape In­dus­try As­so­ci­a­tion Sin­ga­pore land­scape award com­pe­ti­tion.

Green­ery aside, the ar­chi­tect con­ceived a house with a seam­less lay­out. The in­te­ri­ors are spa­cious, airy and bright, thanks to the large win­dows and open­ings in the fa­cade that let sun­light through.

The first floor has been set aside for the liv­ing and dining rooms, which open up to a pool. At the end of the pool is a pavil­ion, from which you can take in the view of the quiet res­i­den­tial neigh­bour­hood.

The bed­rooms are on the se­cond floor, while the at­tic is re­served for guests who stay the night.

In keep­ing with the na­ture theme, tones of green, brown and beige as well as nat­u­ral ma­te­ri­als such as wood and stone were picked for the fur­nish­ings and fit­tings. For ex­am­ple, the ceil­ing of the house is clad in teak, while a ta­ble in the pa­tio is a live edge­wood piece.

The owner, who de­clines to be named, says: “Even be­fore the ren­o­va­tion, I de­cided that this house would have a huge gar­den and lots of plants. I wake up in the morn­ing and I can hear birds singing in the gar­den. I love be­ing close to na­ture.”

A per­fect fit

When it came to de­sign­ing this bun­ga­low off Far­rer Road, ar­chi­tects from RT+Q Ar­chi­tects took a leaf from the shape and struc­ture of huts, barns and old trop­i­cal houses.

With its pitched roof, raw fair-faced con­crete walls and tim­ber sun-shad­ing screens, ve­ran­das and gar­dens, this house is a mod­ern­day in­ter­pre­ta­tion that com­bines var­i­ous fea­tures of these hum­ble build­ings.

The 1,200sq m, two-storey house, which also has a base­ment, is home to a multi-gen­er­a­tion fam­ily that in­cludes two grand­par­ents, their daugh­ter and son-in-law and their three grand­chil­dren.

To ac­com­mo­date the need for the oc­cu­pants’ own pri­vate time and com­mu­nal gath­er­ings, the ar­chi­tects carved out sep­a­rate wings for the older folk and the younger gen­er­a­tion. These wings, which are off to the sides of the build­ing, house bed­rooms and li­brary nooks.

The whole fam­ily comes to­gether in the long com­mu­nal block that runs down the cen­tre of the bun­ga­low. On the spa­cious first level, the fam­ily gath­ers for meals or par­ties. The liv­ing room up­stairs has a floor- to-ceil­ing house-shaped dis­play cabi­net filled with Chi­nese an­tiques.

While the in­te­ri­ors are im­pres­sive, the out­door area, which boasts gar­dens, a pool and a pond, is also stun­ning.

The daugh­ter’s wing is fronted by a man­i­cured gar­den, dot­ted with two large ma­ture Dal­ber­gia oliv­eri trees. With their lush crowns and long branches, the 30-year-old trees form a screen be­tween the house and the main road.

The ar­chi­tects also de­signed a dou­ble-height “dining box” on the first floor of this wing that opens up into this gar­den.

Tucked be­hind is a pool, where over­hang­ing trees drape over the pool’s edge.

The true cen­tre­piece of this house is a Ja­panese-themed gar­den and pond. The pond comes up to the shel­tered ve­randa of the grand­par­ents’ bed­room and can be seen from the dining room.

Keep­ing to the style of such tra­di­tional gar­dens, there are step­ping stones, grav­elled sur­faces and a thriv­ing koi pond.

These out­door zones bring na­ture to the doorstep of the home’s oc­cu­pants. The son-in-law, who is a land­scape ar­chi­tect, col­lab­o­rated with RT+Q on what would go into these gar­den spa­ces.

The firm’s di­rec­tor Rene Tan, who worked on the house with co-founder T.K. Quek and project ar­chi­tect Melvin Keng, says: “This house is unique for us be­cause it is one of those rare mo­ments where the form was largely driven by a land­scape strat­egy, in­stead of an ar­chi­tec­tural one.”

While the gar­dens dom­i­nate the space, the prop­erty was chris­tened “The House With Shad­ows” be­cause of the dif­fer­ent lines and shapes it casts dur­ing the day.

It is com­pet­ing against 16 other projects in the House – Com­pleted Build­ings cat­e­gory at the pres­ti­gious World Ar­chi­tec­ture Fes­ti­val Awards held in Berlin. The win­ner will be an­nounced in Novem­ber.

Fu­tur­is­tic fa­cade, cosy in­te­ri­ors

The rounded, grey fa­cade of this house, with two sky­lights punched into its roof, makes it look as if a space­ship has landed on top of a hill in Siglap.

And though this fu­tur­is­tic-look­ing home is on a street chock-ablock with homes of vary­ing sizes, the in­te­ri­ors are so spa­cious that its oc­cu­pants say they do not feel they are so close to their neigh­bours.

The house be­longs to a restau­ra­teur and her hus­band. They have three chil­dren aged be­tween 17 and 25 and both their moth­ers live with them. It has a built-up area of 852sq m and was com­pleted ear­lier this year af­ter a 20-month ren­o­va­tion.

Be­sides the usual fea­tures of a house – a liv­ing room, dining room and bed­rooms – the ar­chi­tects have fit­ted in a pool, a gym, an en­ter­tain­ment area and a pri­vate theatre that can seat up to 25 peo­ple.

The multi-pur­pose, two-storey bun­ga­low with an at­tic and base­ment is the cre­ation of a team from ar­chi­tec­ture prac­tice AD Lab. War­ren Liu, prin­ci­pal di­rec­tor at the firm, worked to­gether on the house with as­so­ciate di­rec­tor Lim Pin Jie and de­sign ex­ec­u­tive Dawn Lim. He says: “It’s a self-con­tained home that has ev­ery­thing.”

The large fam­ily spends a lot of time at home and of­ten en­ter­tains friends and fam­ily there, es­pe­cialy dur­ing dur­ing the hol­i­day sea­son. The restau­ra­teur, who de­clines to be named, says: “I wanted to have a house that wel­comes ev­erye.one. It’s nice when the boys ask their friends over to hang out.” One of the nicest spa­ces in the house is the rooftop gar­den that is dec­o­rated with plants. A bar­be­cue grill and an out­door dining ta­ble with chairs com­plete the set-up.

While rooftop gar­dens are com­mon in most houses to­day, this one steals the show with its view of the Ma­rina Bay area and the Cen­tral Busi­ness District’s soar­ing sky­scrapers in the dis­tance.

The ar­chi­tects ori­en­tated the rooftop to­wards the cityscape to take ad­van­tage of the un­blocked land­scape. Even the bed­room and com­mu­nal spa­ces on the first and se­cond floors have snatches of the city views. Liu says: “We didn’t have to try too hard. We let the view dom­i­nate the space.” – The Straits Times/Asia News Net­work

— Pho­tos: The Straits Times

The pa­tio has a live edge­wood ta­ble and is screened from the main road by cas­cad­ing Ver­nonia el­lip­tica creep­ers.

A pavil­ion at one end of the pool of­fers views of the res­i­den­tial neigh­bour­hood.

The gar­den of The House With Shad­ows.

The liv­ing room in The House With Shad­ows.

The rounded, grey fa­cade of this house, with two sky­lights punched into its roof, makes it look as if a space­ship has landed on top of a hill in Siglap.

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