Text description provided by the architects. The site for this house posed several challenges to overcome. Firstly, it is located right at the junction of two busy 4-lane roads. And in addition to that, the overhead MRT (Mass Rapid Transit) viaduct for the East-West cross-island train is located just beyond one of these roads. There is constant noise coming from cars and the passing train. The front of the site, where the main gate is located, faces almost West. To keep out heat and glare from the low angle western sun, the 2 most visible facades cannot have too many see-through openings.
Thus, in trying to shield the interior spaces from the traffic noise and the Western sun, the semi-detached house is “flipped” inwards by carving out large voids between the house and the party wall adjoining its neighbor. Natural light is directed down these voids, some of which stretch over the entire 4 stories of the house. All the bedrooms on the upper floors are buffered from the road noise by a common corridor and their windows open into the air-well voids for natural daylight (indirect) and ventilation.
This explains why the front and side elevations are expressed with small fenestrations (except for the first story which opens out onto the patio and garden). The use of natural burnt-brown facing bricks as the façade material further enhances the “closed” look, in direct contrast to the windows opening onto the air-well voids which are often full-height from floor to ceiling. This inner side of the house is fully protected from direct sun and traffic noise.
There are also many spatial permutations set within the voids – ranging from the 4-story high open air-well that ventilates the Powder room to the interlocking high volume entrance “Foyer”. The interlocking voids often permit lots of visual connections between different parts of the house, giving an illusion of more spaciousness than there really is.