A Home built around Gatherings and a Rain Tree
The relationship between nature and architecture is clear in this project by ONG&ONG. As well as a sense of natural tactility in the materials, the family home in Singapore has been designed around a 'colossal' pre-war Rain Tree that existed on the site.
Its magnificence could not be ignored, and it would be a shame to do so, so the architects have embraced the historic feature. “Its presence is ingrained within the very architecture of the house itself,” says the architect. We spoke to Maria Arango, Director at ONG&ONG to find out more about 65BTP-House, how the design responds to the tree, the family its made for, and the location its built.
-What was the brief for this project?
The space was, first of all, intended to be a sanctuary for the client and his family – a space where they could feel comfortable and at ease. Additionally, the client has strong ties with his religious community and intended to host many gatherings in his home. Therefore, the brief was to create a warm family home that also had a generous amount of space for guests.
– What did you enjoy most, or least, about the process of creating this space and why?
It was enjoyable to know that we were able to provide a well-proportioned home that fulfilled the client’s detailed requirements, its potential as a luxury home while retaining an understated aesthetic style and its essence as a humble, family home. We were also given a great opportunity to work with the client on the selection of materials to be imported from Indonesia, selecting the specific tone of teak to be used next to the granite and achieving a successful combination of natural materials which gave the house an interesting, overall look. Finally, one of the most successful achievements of the design was how it’s so interwoven with and centred on the Rain Tree, and how it ensured that the Rain Tree continues to remain the “protagonist” of the space. The pre war tree definitely had historical value and that’s why it was woven so intimately into the architecture house and the layout of the various spaces.
– How did the local climate, building vernacular or local landscape influence your design?
The layout of the house was designed specifically to accommodate and maximise view of the Rain Tree. While the land space for this project is large, we tried to minimise the footprint of the house on the land and hence minimise the impact of the house on the land as much as possible. This resulted in the creation of large green spaces, such as the garden spaces, optimising this rare luxury of a huge land space and maximising the opportunity to enjoy the rain tree and the garden within the space. We even took advantage of the sloping topography to open up the basement area, so that the rain tree and green spaces can be viewed and accessed from the basement.
– What sort of materials did you use?
There was extensive use of materials such as natural rock surfaces, which are featured prominently throughout the house, from the raw granite in the outdoor facade to the granite flooring inside. All of the timber pieces are teak imported from Indonesia. Many different types of stone were used, with ivory travertine in the powder room and golden travertine in the spa room. Blocks of granite stone with natural finishes were also used in the spa and powder rooms. In the living room, a marble called Crema Caterina is used.
– Are there any sustainable qualities to the design?
By having a layout ideal for cross-ventilation, this promotes natural ventilation. A 2-metre overhang also helps to reduce heat retention and absorption by providing shade, while the installation of rain harvesting tanks capitalises on Singapore’s high rainfall by collecting and reusing the rain water for irrigation.
-What about this space makes it a special and personal project for you or the lead architect/designer?
This project in particular is very special because the clients were heavily involved in the design process. Although they had a number of requirements that posed certain challenges to us as the designers, we managed to resolve those issues and the clients were very happy with the results – so that in itself was incredibly encouraging. In particular, we were glad to have met the client’s requirements of not having a large and imposing design for the house, despite the large plot of land, but instead allowing for a lot of open green spaces. It was also great that we could incorporate the historic rain tree into the overall design scheme.
-Are there any other particularly noteworthy points you can share?
The layout of the house was designed specifically to accommodate and maximise view of the rain tree. While the land space for this project is large, we tried to minimise the footprint of the house on the land and hence minimise the impact of the house on the land as much as possible. This resulted in the creation of large green spaces, such as the garden spaces, optimising this rare luxury of a huge land space and maximising the opportunity to enjoy the rain tree and the garden within the space. We even took advantage of the sloping topography to open up the basement area, so that the rain tree and green spaces can be viewed and accessed from the basement.
Photography by Derek Swalwell
Project directors: Diego Molina & Maria Arango
Team members: Julius Daguio Caramat, Tomas Jaramillo Valencia, Ryan Manuel, Camilo Pelaez Nino, Eleazar Dela Paz Manahan, Chee Yunn Ee
Date of project completion: November 2013
Parameters of project:
GFA: 1,447.28 sqm
Site area: 2,161.80 sqm
Civil & Structural Engineers: JS Tan & Associates
Mechanical & Electrical Engineers: Rankine&Hill (S) Pte Ltd
Quantity Surveyor: Rodney Chng & Associates Pte Ltd
Main Contractor: Deenn Engineering Pte Ltd
Land Surveyor: Tang Tuck Kim Registered Surveyor