“Our first challenge,” says Diego during a tour of the house with Shanti its owner, “was to turn what was originally a semi-detached house into a detached one. The land size allows for this conversion and this was one of the first requests from the owners.” The clients’ parents have lived at this Singapore property from its inception in the 1970s, having purchased it directly from the developer, but they themselves have lived in Jakarta for over 20 years.
When they relocated back to Singapore, they decided to redevelop the house to its full potential. After exploring several semi-detached options in the initial design, the decision was made to proceed, even if it meant surrendering a 2-metre strip of built floors and the prospect of overlooking the neighbour’s party wall. But the advantages of air, light and independence proved irresistible. The solution adopted was to reclaim floor areas to the maximum line allowed on both sides of the boundary, thus giving the house a perfectly rectangular floor plate with a strong symmetry along a central axis. Indeed, symmetry became an operating influence on the overall design. The neighbour’s wall is painted with the same grey that themes the interiors of the residence.
“Our second constraint was having to deal with the noise from the Ayer Rajah Expressway (AYE),” adds Tomas Jaramillo, ONG&ONG's senior designer in charge of the project, in reference to one of the country’s major arterial highway. As the back of the house faces this expressway, placing the living room directly in front of this noise source was certainly a considered one. Not only due to the noise factor but also because it is at odds with conventional practice to place living areas in front of an internal road entrance.
The reason for subverting this convention is compelling too. Setbacks from the highway meant there is more garden area at the back, whilst mature trees planted beside it provided a ready-made verdant backdrop. The fact that the rear 12-metre building setback line did not apply to basement structures also meant that a pool could be built along the back garden and its bottom could be appreciated from the basement via the use of the acrylic panel.
“Naturally, the back garden then became the focal point of the house,” says Tomas “but we had to be careful with the noise.” On the ground floor, the only effective solution was fixed double-glazing and a limitation to the opening panels. But this limitation simplified the design. The garden became a panoramic framed view, the concise exemplification of the Chinese design practice of jiejing or “borrowed scenery” – water in the foreground, lawn and shrubbery in mid-ground, trees in the background. In a choreography of framed views, much as in a lyrical Japanese movie by Ozu, a visitor enters the house via a passage that skirts through the kitchen and lift lobby, led on by a low-running band of bay window before the culminating scene at the living space, where the hard edges of cut materials dissolve into the green beyond. The serenity of this space is now so prized that the clients’ forbade their parents to clutter the concrete ledges with collectibles and various forms of art, even though this was what they have been designed for.
Should the living room doors be kept open, the other place of quiet respite would be the subterranean floor directly below. Here, one is effectively transposed to a realm of pool-filtered light complete with the soothing sound of rising bubbles propelled from a row of jets along the acrylic plane. This space can be further contained by a track of acoustic curtains next to the stairwell. Otherwise, the stairwell, which rises over four floors, becomes a socialising shaft; a vertical ‘hearth’ that connects all floors visually and centrally. Crowned with a skylight and bedded with a dry rock garden, one can imagine everyday conversations floating up and down its teak panels; voices from faces rather than from the intercom.
Another example of a gentle subversion of the convention is the master bedroom designed without a walk-in wardrobe. Instead, all the side walls of the bedroom are lined with contiguous, streamlined cabinetry that is then flush with – and visually extended to – the external projecting walls. These cantilevered wedges are joined across the top to form a tapered eave that is in turn, a part of the ledge-cum-parapet for the water feature on the roof terrace above. The aesthetic composition is thereby part and parcel of the practical elements and one is hard-pressed to decipher which design consideration had preceded the others.
Perhaps this survey could end where it started, back to the threshold of the house. Here, the vertical teak strips that line the walls have continued from the outside into the stairwell at the heart of the house. Beside the front door, it conceals the shoe cabinets. Opposite the shoe cabinets are granite plinths that look right as an anchoring base to the row of free-standing columns. But they are here also appropriately used as benches for sitting on as one puts on the shoes. Next to these plinths, the planted soil level is raised to almost the same level. The plants are then seen even when one is seated in the living room sofa. Colours are understated so that the leafy greens and the woody panelling become the natural highlights, with the Indonesian furniture from the owners’ collection serving as accents. Together, they form a gracious, harmonious entity and the very essence of distilled design.
Photography Derek SwalwellWe also think you might like House With A Loggia by RT+Q Architectsabc
Binoculars, Assembly Architects Limited, QueenstownBinoculars, designed by Assembly Architects Limited, is a tall, mirror-image duplex with bold cantilevered balconies that focus squarely on the view of Lake Wakatipu in Queenstown. The duplex is the clients’ holiday home, as well as providing short- and long-term accommodation options for their family and friends. “The bedroom and bathroom arrangements are different per side, and the apartments have distinctively different character due to the sun access, and the inhabitants,” explain Louise and Justin Wright of Assembly. At the front, the entrances are framed at the centre of the duplex to form a meeting point. A naturally lit staircase leads to bedrooms and bathrooms with colourful finishes on the middle level and open-plan living on the top floor. The dining rooms open to the rear courtyards, which are connected by a gate for shared parties. The kitchens are central and social; the cozy lounge rooms face south to the balcony and Lake Wakatipu, and gently sloping ceilings also draw focus to that spectacular view. [gallery size="large" ids="85056,85057,85058"] [gallery columns="2" size="large" ids="85060,85059"] [gallery size="large" ids="85062,85061,85063"] Photography by Simon Devitt Assembly Architects Limited assembly.co.nz
Lake Weyba, Robinson Architects, NoosaDesigned by Robinson Architects, Lake Weyba Duplex in the Noosa hinterland has a feeling of separation between the two houses. Sited on a corner, they have entrances on different streets, turn their back on each other and are distinctly designed for natural light and ventilation. The owner/builder intended to live in one three-bedroom duplex with his young family, and to sell the other two-bedroom duplex for profit. “The brief was to create a functional and uplifting place for the clients to live. We saw it as an opportunity to break with the standard duplex mould,” says Jolyon Robinson. Rejecting the mirror-image approach, Robinson Architects created a single building that presents as two houses. They are connected with a party wall on the ground floor and separated by a narrow void on the first floor. Their asymmetrical volumes respond to the orientation, while their form and material palette unites them. Black aluminium screens provide privacy from the street and protect the interior from sun. Living space is maximised, with no hallways, and internal voids allow for high ceilings, natural daylight and views. [gallery size="large" ids="85070,85071,85072,85073,85074,85075"] Photography by Alain Bouvier Robinson Architects robinsonarchitects.com.au
3 Houses Marrickville, David Boyle Architect, Sydney3 Houses Marrickville provides a model for respectfully increasing density in inner-city suburbs. David Boyle Architect converted a large corner block in Marrickville into three properties by dividing a two-storey house into a duplex and building a new house fronting the street behind. “It provides an example of how urban consolidation of larger suburban blocks can be achieved with contemporary design sympathetic to surrounding built form,” says David Boyle. An existing Federation house had been substantially altered with an ungainly upper storey. David resolved these unsympathetic additions and reconciled the front of the building to create separate-looking dwellings within a singular form. Inside, he carefully stitched a new party through the building to create two terrace-like homes – one with four bedrooms, and the other with three. Removing some of the walls at the rear of the building allowed for open-plan living spaces and the footprint to be extended. The living areas now spill out to covered decks connected to the garden. The new timber-clad house at the rear of the site has a U-shaped plan around a central courtyard to respect the streetscape of single-storey detached houses. [gallery size="large" ids="85044,85047,85048"] [gallery size="large" ids="85045,85046,85049"] Photography by Brett Boardman David Boyle Architect davidboylearchitect.com.au
Masuto, Jamison Architects, MelbourneMasuto in Aberfeldie, Melbourne, provides a comfortable and healthy living environment and a positive contribution to the streetscape. The client wanted to downsize to a smaller home and engaged Jamison Architects to design a duplex with one house for their family, and one house to be sold. “They wanted a home that was architecturally unique, functional, practical and met all their needs for family life,” says Mark Jamison. The duplex faces south to the street, with rear living spaces to the north. Central courtyards, blockwork blade walls and full-height glazing allows light to flood in and provides a connection to the landscape and privacy from neighbours. The courtyard, a two-storey void and slightly splayed hallway also allow the space to expand horizontally and vertically, opening up the elongated plan. The kitchen and dining area at the centre of the house is where the family love to cook, entertain and share meals with family and friends. Entertaining also spills outside with the pool and alfresco dining. Bedrooms, bathrooms, a study and family room are upstairs, with lots of practical storage, and materials and finishes unifying the interior and exterior. [gallery size="large" ids="85043,85042,85041,85040,85039,85038"] Photography by Derek Swalwell Jamison Architects jamisonarchitects.com.au
A&M, Marston Architects, SydneyThe A&M houses are built on the site of a former single-storey home in Fairlight, Sydney. Marston Architects wanted to design a duplex with a modest footprint, plenty of natural light and views. “Conceptually, the A&M Houses have been an experiment in drawing a relationship and balance between a reduced footprint, comfortable living and maximised amenity,” says Vivianne Marston, principal of Marston Architects. The mirror homes are linear in nature. Skylights, undulating roof lines and a central internal patio bring light, views and outdoor connection, creating a greater sense of spaciousness on the elongated site. Skylights illuminate and cast shadows across the white waxed-stucco party wall, which reflects and refracts light; central internal patios allow northern sunlight into the south-facing living areas, and large openings and limestone flooring create generous and seamless connections from indoors to out. The sense of space is further enhanced with built-in timber joinery and furniture, and sliding timber screens, frosted glass and linen curtains in place of fixed internal doors, allowing spaces to be opened up or closed down. [gallery size="large" ids="85050,85051,85052,85053,85054,85055"] Photography by Katherine Lu Marston Architects marstonarchitects.com.au
Bluebird Duplex, Altereco , VictoriaBluebird Duplex designed by Altereco is far from confined, with allotment size of more than 400 square metres and a fresh, colourful and bright interior. The duplex in Barwon Heads is a single-storey mirrored design with independent street frontage and minimal party walls. “We respected the predominantly single-storey streetscape and created intimate spaces that are filled with natural light,” says James Goodlet of Altereco. The clients are photographers that Altereco has a long-standing relationship with. “We were super excited, knowing that they are adventurous by nature and we could reflect that in the style,” James says. Each townhouse has a study at the front to provide a buffer from the street, three bedrooms down the hallway, and the open-plan living area at the rear. An internal courtyard brings light, ventilation and nature into the centre of the house, and a skillion roof with high windows allows natural light into the living area. The material palette is light and playful with a colourful laminate and plywood kitchen and black stained timber lining boards. [gallery size="large" ids="85068,85066,85069"] [gallery size="large" columns="2" ids="85065,85064"] Photography by Nikole Ramsay Altereco altereco.net.au We think you might also like Five Of The best Australian Housesabc
PlateauHighly crafted and irregularly shaped, each rug is consistent in fabric – made from 100 per cent New Zealand wool – and texture to create contoured depth, adding an extra dimension. For the past 15 years, the innovative works of Rina Bernabei and Kelly Freeman have pushed the boundaries of the way patterns, textures and furniture is perceived. Working with the in-house expert from Designer Rugs, Christine McDonald, the rugs fill a gap in the interior design scene. Bernabei explains further that “what was needed in the interior design scene was strong colours – strong tones of colour, but pared back. For example in Crossing, the shades of nudes, with pinks and grey.”
CrossingDesigner Rugs has built its name on an extensive range of rugs designed in-house, as well as a set of unique collections created in collaboration with some of the best minds in Australia's art, fashion and design industries. This Designer Rugs x bernabeifreeman collection is on display at Designer Rugs’ showrooms in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Auckland. Designer Rugs
Graduating top of his class at The Architectural Association’s School of Architecture (AA), Pan Yi Cheng is very much a product of his generation. His career has taken on many guises, as he’s worked around the world, collecting essential experiences and skills, to prepare him for his ultimate endeavour: building his own design business - Produce.
Time spent with tutors Chris Lee and TP Bennett early on was followed by a stint at UNStudio in Amsterdam.
In 2010, four years after finishing his studies, he moved back to Singapore to start his own consultancy company with a school friend from AA, naming it PAC to service masterplans for one developer in China. “They were the scale of townships, had long lead times and were, often-times, speculative works. After three years I felt it wasn’t going to evolve into anything physical so I decided to come out of that partnership and start Produce,” says Yi Cheng. “At the end of my time at PAC we had just one project in Singapore, a Herman Miller showroom in Xtra, the premium furniture retailer at Park Mall.” With a “shop-in-shop” concept, the project won the Best Retail Building award at the World Architectural Festival of 2012, and represented a breakthrough for Yi Cheng in many ways.
“It was during this project that I realised that as an industry in Singapore, we are unable to do customised fittings or customized product easily and there’s not enough competition.”
Installed as a continuous skin of undulating lattice made up of triangular plywood panels, the design involved complex geometries “hooked” together with “interlocking lapping joints”. Its design process was hampered by the lack of facilities to test out 1:1 scale mock-ups using the actual material so designs were initially tested on scaled-down versions made of cardboard.
“It was slow and dogged by inaccuracies. The design was eventually tested at 1:3 scale with birch ply but out-sourced to London for its cheaper pricing. Only when we started to assemble it did we find areas we could have trimmed off, so we learnt from accumulated mistakes,” Yi Cheng recalls.
The final fabrication as carried out by a firm in China presented other challenges – materials not done to specifications and batches with upside-down cuttings – but its eventual success encouraged Yi Cheng and another AA alumni friend to pioneer an equipped facility where they could do their own experimentation and to demonstrate the potential of doing bespoke works. “So we started Produce with the idea of ‘design and make’,” Yi Cheng continues. “This is in opposition to the convention of having designs out-sourced to different groups of contractors or fabricators who then have to figure out how to make your design intention come to life because in my experience, they tend to overprice complex designs and these then get value-engineered out. Our idea was to incorporate the fabrication and construction stage into the design stage. We decided to have our own prototyping facility. Together with two other partners, the four of us pulled our resources, took out a factory space and bought two machines: a laser cutting- and a three-axis CNC (Computer Numerical Control) milling machine. We started with small objects like furniture and products and sought to build our portfolio upwards from there.”
The efficacy of this investment is best appreciated in the second version of the showroom Produce designed and manufactured for Xtra in 2016, at their new premise of Marina Square, Singapore. Once again inspired by how the Eames chair had innovated the use of plywood ergonomically, Yi Cheng challenged himself to manipulate the material with new geometries. “We started to see the space as a body where we could wrap a new skin around,” he explains. “The only requirement from the owner was to have less number of parts. The first store had 4000 over parts which were arduous to assemble.”
For the second iteration, Yi Cheng used larger panels of plywood and found ways to distort them to the required geometries without breaking them down into triangles. This was achieved by puncturing wedge slits over thin slices of ply and closing them up with stitches of plastic loops, much like how darts are used in sewing to shape the contours of a garment. The resultant conglomeration of double-curved parts resembled the rippling folds of loosely draped fabric, a design Yi Cheng calls “Fabricwood”. This time, only 400 parts were used to encapsulate a larger area. The work garnered multiple awards, including the Gold Medal for Retail in 2016 from the Singapore Interior Design Award.
Other interior works moulded by the Produce prototyping capabilities include the inventive structure for Wild Rocket restaurant which simulates a cascade of disintegrating timber pieces, and the cheerful Kki Sweets and The Little Dröm Store, Winner of Best Retail Interior 2015 INSIDE Festival. Today, Yi Cheng is 38 and has achieved licensed architect status earlier in the year. He is seeking to start a new sole proprietorship practice, as none of the other three partners of Produce are qualified professionals. He has applied for his firm to be named “Type 0”, an allusion to going back to the origin, a resetting of all typologies to tabula rasa. Concurrently, he has also initiated the formation of another entity called Superstructure to capitalise on the use of his facilities for digital fabrication to other companies. While very much a deep-thinking man who knows the world and his place in it, he still retains a hurried hunger to remake both.Produce produce.com.sg We also think you might like Medway Drive by Produceabc