Alleyway House / Formwerkz Architects

© Courtesy of

Architects: Formwerkz Architects
Location: ,
Design Tema: Alan Tay, Gwen Tan, Seetoh Kum Loon, Berlin Lee
Site Area: 150 sqm
Project Area: 240 sqm
Project Year: 2006
Photographs: Courtesy of Formwerkz Architects

Situated in a non-descript, low-rise neighborhood, the 2½-storey intermediate terrace house is rebuilt for a family of four and their pets.

Landlocked on 3 sides by the party and rear walls of neighboring plots, the site with its dominant linearity is conceptualized as an “alleyway“. The “alleyway” with its porosity is crucial for effective cross-ventilation through the dwelling. Organized along the open thoroughfare are the extroverted communal spaces while the private spaces are “hung” on the upper floors within enclosing walls.

floor plans

Throughout the entire section of the dwelling, a rough, cement-rendered party-wall extends, forming a unifying element for various parts of the dwelling. This textured wall most obvious along the open communal spaces, is intended for creeping plants.

© Courtesy of Formwerkz Architects

Against the cement-rendered wall, sits the centerpiece of the thoroughfare; a 2-storey cage structure which houses the family’s precious parrots in the lower tier and on the upper tier, an outdoor shower accessible from the master bedroom.

sectional perspective
© Courtesy of Formwerkz Architects

Beyond the ground-level communal spaces, at the “wall-less” front of the dwelling, a layer of plants shields the space from the street for privacy. The living space is also raised from the street level to minimize visibility. At the front, closely spaced, galvanized-steel grilles fold down from the car porch canopy as the entrance wall. Besides serving as the last line of security, these grilles are also an effective privacy veil. The transparency of the alleyway spaces is only fleetingly noticeable from the street when the dwelling is viewed head-on, blurring the boundary between the street and the “alleyway’.

Cite: "Alleyway House / Formwerkz Architects" 23 Jul 2010. ArchDaily. Accessed 30 May 2015. <>
  • Enzo Gorlami

    With all of ArchDaily’s recent projects in Singapore, I can’t help but notice similarities between private and public developments taking place here and throughout SE Asia, where the trend toward privatization of urban development has resulted in a growing lack of porous urban space. The perimeter of an alarming number of public spaces are fenced in, presumably under the guise of security or access control. 
    This mind set carries over to the private dwellings in the form of gated luxury villas that we’ve seen featured here. A very different attitude toward urban living from cities like Paris or New York, where Mayor Bloomberg (now worth $17bn) lives in plain sight in a mid-block townhouse on E79 St.

    • maarten

      The cultural difference between Western and Asian culture is massive, and therefore can’t be compared with cities as Paris or New York. The Singapore culture also has to deal with the tropical climate, which for native Singaporeans is ‘harsh’ ‘hot’ and unfriendly: most people do not wish to be ‘outdoor’. Public spaces in cities as Singapore are mostly ‘interior public spaces’. Big malls, and underground shopping streets. These ‘artificial’ and unfriendly surroundings are mostly planned by Western urban planners, which force people to ‘cut themselves off’ from the city and live in a private ‘secure’ house. Traditional shophouses are designed in a more friendly way, however these make place for big high rise. I am curious what the future will bring in SE Asia, and I am hoping for more bottom up urban approaches.

  • Nick

    Can’t say I like the house that much, but I really like the floorplan for some reason…

  • Adam

    Wow, I love this. It’s just so different. I love the bathroom. I love the kitchen. I love the parrot cage (although I wouldn’t personally want a parrot). The house has a cozy feel to it. My words…they aren’t working to describe what it is that I like about this house.