Architects: Ong & Ong Pte Ltd
Location: Singapore, Singapore
Design Team: Diego Molina and Maria Arango. Camilo Pelaez
Project Team: Diego Molina and Maria Arango. Camilo Pelaez. Ryan Manuel. Linda Qing
Site Area: 840 sqm
House Area: 592 sqm
Project Year: 2009
Photographs: Derek Swalwell, Tim Nolan
45 Faber Park. The clients for this Project are a couple with three young children, – a set of twins and a younger child, all under 10. Their main aim was to maximise outdoor space whilst not compromising living areas. It was therefore essential that there would be sufficient space for the children to play outdoors as well as indoors. The priority of creating an open living space with a direct relationship to a large outdoor space became a driving force in the scheme.
The overall concept, derived from the clients’ requirements, was to create a living space open to the outdoors in a clean contemporary aesthetic. The building would need to allow fluid movement between each space within and perform as a sustainable mechanism.
In order to maximize space, the idea of pushing the mass of the building into the corner of the plot was developed. The concept of defining the bedroom areas and activity spaces as separate elements allowed for the final scheme to be reached. From the exterior, each element appears as a separate entity, however internally these have a strong connection to each other.
An inviting entrance
The second storey of the house, representing a more private area, is cantilevered over the driveway. The cantilever gives the entrance to the house an enclosed, protected feel. The material used here is an alloy of titanium and zinc which gives this rectangular volume a dark matt finish. The external materials, chosen in subtle tones, define and reflect the more intimate space of the house. The arrangement of spaces on the second floor is a functional response to the needs of the inhabitants. In response to this, the spaces created were introspective and focused on privacy. In order to create pleasant sleeping areas the height of the ceilings was set lower compared to the ceilings in the social areas. Leading from the quiet family room upstairs is a green roof which provides additional outdoor space. It is equipped with a BBQ pit that overlooks the pool beneath. This space represents an ideal entertaining area or a contemplation garden.
All social activity areas of the house are accommodated on the first floor. There is clear connectivity between all main social areas of the house. The sliding, flexible doors open directly onto the lower garden. When slid back into the walls, the garden space is made one with the social space. The continuity of the house is fluid and works well with the externally clad travertine. The large glazed plane, exposing the space, emphasizes the clear contrast between the private and social areas of the house.
Composition of materials suggest diversity of space
The composition of white walls, in-situ concrete and teak flooring suggest diversity within each space – the way an open plan residence should be. The social space opens to the lower garden while connecting to it. Similar to this, fluid connectivity between spaces in the family rooms upstairs is accomplished by glazed doors which can be slid back and hidden. Upon entering the home the unbroken terrazzo flooring emphasizes the continuity of space on this first floor.
When entering the house, ones attention is immediately drawn to the sculptural staircase. Its organic form contrasts with the rigidity of the two main elements of the house. The staircase acts as the hinge pinning the two perpendicular main elements of the house together. It is the anchor point of the house which is also the vertical circulation. However, the house was designed with children running up and down and through in mind so the sculptural design of the stairs was meant to articulate the intended movement through the space.
An unexpected ambient recreational space
The terrain of the site has worked advantageously for the scheme. A slight gradient toward the rear gives space for a void. This void allows light to penetrate the basement space.
The basement space represents the third element of the house. However, unlike the other elements it is unable to use an external architectural language to reflect the activities taking place within. The general perception of a basement is that it is generally not used as a social space but rather as or only as storage. For this house, a deliberate move was made to challenge this perception – the space is well lit with diverse recreational space within. The basement is naturally lit from both sides. One of the light sources is the void garden, the other a window which looks into the swimming pool. This window is the same width as the pool and creates a perfect ambiance in this lounge space which is equipped with a bar and a pool table. Furthermore, a naturally lit study and cinema room are accommodated in the basement. The basement space is vertically connected to the social spaces of the house and serves as a more intimate extension to the social space above.
Environmental measures taken early on in the design promote a sustainable scheme.
From the beginning, the house was designed as a sustainable scheme. The orientation of the house was strategically positioned to allow the prevailing wind to cross ventilate the social spaces. The large opening throughout the house encourages natural light and ventilation within the house. Certain key materials were chosen to help manage the environment of the house. The high thermal mass qualities of in-situ concrete and terrazzo help to cool the house. Also the natural teak used, has very small environmental implications – it is bought from a local source, minimising transport cost. Additionally, the wood was treated with a water-based preservative harmless to the environment. Skylights are strategically placed to encourage natural ventilation. Three other skylights light the internal stairway to the basement and ensure all parts of the house are well lit. The windows of the upper private area were recessed to provide sun shading, reducing the solar gain received by the windows. By employing this method the solar gain is reduced by up to 40%. Each sustainable measure reduces the need of non-renewable energy resources to cool or to light the house.
Certain native plants were chosen to provide outdoor shading along the pool area and also provide the plot with additional privacy. The native species help put the scheme in context – soil disruption is kept to a minimum.
Overall the scheme is an expressive piece of architecture responding to the needs of a young family. With constraints of limited green space in Singapore, this design finds a solution which optimises indoor and outdoor space whilst emphasizing the relationship between the two.