Project TeamRandy Chan
Site Area1700 sq ft
Text Write upJolene Lee
Text description provided by the architects. Approaching the house from the street level, one notices a raw, chamfered concrete fascia. The windowless façade reveals the interior of the house, almost as if the house is still in a state of construction, primitive in its language of expression. The raw elevation provides glimpses of a spiral staircase drum, with a seemingly makeshift timber box protruding from the articulated structural elements, augmenting the sense of theatrics in a neighbourhood of quiet terrace houses.
The open design of the house boldly experiments with the notions of tropical dwelling, where sustainability is interpreted through the harnessing of natural elements through passive means. Located near the sea, the openness of the façade allows for cross-ventilation, where a continuous breeze can be enjoyed through the house at all times of the day, reducing the reliance on mechanical cooling systems and harkening back to principles of vernacular tropical dwellings.
This open façade is made possible through a key element in the design – an overall overhang with a 2m recess providing shelter and security, where the recess allows for a greater sense of privacy for the interior spaces of the house and at the same time, shielding the main spaces of the house from the intensity of the tropical sun and rain.
It also functions as a defined patio space on the second storey overlooking the expanse of green in front of the house.
Hidden within is a 12m bio pool located on the second storey which stretches through the entire length of the house along the shared parti wall. A key space in the house, this bio pool anchors the main communal space, extending into the kitchen and dining area. Together with the cross ventilation allowed by the non-façade treatment, it acts to cool the house based on simple age-old principles of tropical living. The edge of the bio pool is open to the sky and with no mechanical system installed, it is sustained entirely through an understanding of simple ecological and biological systems, a constant experiment that remains fluid, an echo of the defining ethos of the house.
This conceptual thread of a return to the basics is continued in the use of materials, where natural recycled materials accent particular elements in the house. For instance, the use of recycled timber is evident in the staircase and the doors, lending a natural patina that coupled with the detailing, reflects the primordial nature of the tropical dwelling unit.
The arrangement of the domestic spaces are subverted, with the ground floor anchored by a gallery space and the use of split levels linked with a central open vertical circulation core of lightly articulated staircases and ramps. This opens up the spaces while providing endless opportunities for an interesting dialogue between the programmatic spaces.
The openness in both plan and design articulation brings forth the intention to modulate between the interior and exterior, where the diurnal extremities of the tropical outdoors and what makes a comfortable dwelling space is deftly moderated with respect for both basic ecological principles and sustainable tropical living methods. The house in its openness embraces the heat and humidity of the tropics, celebrating the climatic eccentricities in multiple layers while at the same time carefully keeping in balance with the requirements that come with its function as a domestic space in the city, drawing out delight in the choreography of the spaces within.