Incorporating elements of the tropical house in an intermediate terrace house is a totally different challenge from other landed housing types because it has to depend on only the short front and rear facades for natural light and ventilation.
In many intermediate terrace houses, including the conservation shophouse, the airwell is often introduced to bring in daylight and air near the middle section of the house. This house at Lotus Avenue, however, is too long for the front and rear windows to provide sufficient natural light and effective natural ventilation, and also, not long enough to introduce an airwell or courtyard at the centre, without losing too much usable floor area.
Our solution was to “pull away” parts of the side walls on both sides from the common party wall to create a narrow strip of buffer “courtyard” space that is open to the sky and just wide enough to allow natural light and ventilation to reach the inner parts of the floor plate.
The buffer space is transformed into a 3-dimensional garden, with creepers and hanging plants growing from planters bracketed on the walls as well as suspended pots of ferns. From inside the house, this narrow space is deceptively spacious and gives the intermediate terrace house the ambience of a detached house with a garden.
Just with this simple gesture, all the rooms and bathrooms in the house are bathed in natural light and sufficient ventilation to encourage true tropical living.