Jervois Hill House
Chu Lik Ren writes that architect, Ko Shiou Hee, is interested in the emotional responses his work evokes. In this new house in Singapore, we can see how typical strategies, such as integrating the landscape, help invest the house with emotional richness
Words: Chu Lik Ren
Photography: Jeremy San
It is sometimes convenient of think of houses as falling into two categories: those that are cerebral and architecturally self-conscious, conforming to some abstract theories, and those that are visceral, which speak to the senses and convey comfort and calmness above all else.
Ever since starting K2LD with David Lee and Ben Teng in 2000, Ko Shiou Hee has made it almost a mission to position "sense and sensibility" as the keystone of his design philosophy. He is interested in the emotional response his works will evoke, and less in accommodating them to a theoretical framework or in adopting a consistent style.
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Instead, when one talks to Shiou Hee, the words "experience" and "materials" are frequently used. And when one walks through a house he has designed, one experiences a heightened sense of spaces and textures artfully put together and bathed in modulated light.
They are like walk-through sculptures, without a boundary dividing interior design from the exterior architecture. Indeed, the total environment, including the landscape, has been conceived holistically. They are the epitome of what Peter Zumthor meant when he wrote of "the magic of the real".
The sensual aspects of Shiou Hee’s works are once again in full evidence in a house designed for a Korean couple on a hilly site in south-central Singapore.