The Enclosed Open House
With neighbours on all sides, this award-winning house in Singapore looks inwards to conceal, open up, and draw in natural light and breeze
Privacy is quite often a luxury in a densely populated city-state like Singapore, but that is exactly what this project has achieved, whilst taking into consideration the local tropical climate, and the owners’ brief for a spacious and contemporary home that would be open but secure.
This was no mean feat considering that the house is tightly surrounded by its neighbours on four sides. For Wallflower Architecture + Design, the answer came in the form of an Asian-inspired design that followed the typology of a classical Chinese courtyard.
“The solution of an inward-looking house with multiple courtyards allows for large open living spaces with little or no compromise on privacy,” says Robin Tan from Wallflower.
The spatial programme also internalises spaces such as pools and gardens, which are often regarded as external to the envelope of the house. At the same time, by zoning areas such as the bedrooms and servants’ quarters on alternative levels, the ground floor is unhindered by walls, the result of which is a continuous and uninterrupted 40-metre view from the entrance foyer and pool, though the formal living area to the internal garden courtyard and formal dining area.
The environmental transparencies at ground level play an important part in passively cooling the house, as do the long and narrow block layouts. “This site is oriented in an east west direction, with the house facing the rising and setting sun. Solar and heat control were thus important factors to consider,” says Robin.
“Helping the house ‘cool’ itself via the design of passive architectural features ensures that the in-house environment is cool and breezy in spite of Singapore’s hot and humid tropical weather. The additional upside is that the house is naturally energy efficient as there is little need for air-conditioning, or if there is, it cools quickly and easily.”
The courtyards also have differing material finishes and therefore differing heat gain and latency. As long as there are temperature differences between courtyards, the living room, dining room and pool become conduits for breezes that move in between the courtyards – similar to the way land and sea breezes are generated.
On the second floor, hand-adjustable solid hardwood louvres serve as a ‘protective skin’, allowing the desired amount of breeze and sunlight to filter through. “As the building’s main facade orientation is aligned east/west, the screens help to mitigate the full impact of the tropical sun,” Robin explains.
Having a quiet sanctuary to come home to is a luxury in any city, but that is what the Enclosed Open House is – a luxurious paradox of openness and intimate spaces, lit by natural light and cooled by gentle wind.
Enclosed Open House was one of two projects by Wallflower Architecture + Design to win in the 2010 SIA Architectural Design Awards – ‘Individual House’ category. Wallflower is the first private firm in SIA record to receive two Design Awards in the residential category in the same year.
Wallflower Architecture + Design
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