Located at the end of a row of terrace houses, the site enjoys uninterrupted views of Swiss Cottage Estate, the latter a small but verdant area interspersed with a handful of conservation colonial bungalows. This provided the key design driver at the outset - to optimise views of the abundant greenery across a small but quiet road so as to create a feeling of tranquillity for the occupants even though the site is located in the city.
To achieve that, the house is made as porous as possible via the use of large expanses of glass windows along its side elevation that faces the greenery. To make up for the loss of privacy from all the transparency, bedrooms are sheathed with a skin of operable timber louvers which the occupants can adjust not just for privacy but to also control light throughout the day. The filigree of louvers not only adds richness to the transparency of the architecture but also provides a counterpoint to the use of a predominantly solid Brutalist language. All solid components or the “skeleton” of the house are constructed of off-form concrete.
The lightness of the exterior transitions to the sturdy masculinity of concrete inside. Some playfulness, sculpted into the form of the house, is introduced lest the house becomes too ponderous. For example, the concrete roof is designed as a light hovering cantilever seemingly supported by a slice of the filigree skin. At the 1st storey, the full-height doors opening into the garden are scaled with a concrete canopy featuring fixed-glass clerestory windows above. This crafting helps to “lighten” and scale the architecture to that more suitable for a dwelling. This is also demonstrated by the size of timber planks for the off-form concrete formwork, chosen to scale the wall with finer lines. Much of the design for this house is about balancing lightness and heaviness. And animating it with the dance of natural light.
The middle of the house where the staircase is situated is drenched in natural light via tall glass windows that rise 2 storeys. In this space, voids and planes together with open riser staircases are designed to not only create spatial playfulness but to also celebrate an interplay of light within the quiet minimalism of the architecture. The architecture is about imparting delight with minimal means for a house situated on a fairly typical plot with a fairly typical programme for a single family dwelling house.
1. Aluminium and glass windows – Acme Aluminium Industries Pte Ltd
2. Timber flooring – Solid Ipe strips