At our recent Inde.Awards, The Living Space category sought to find the region’s most inspiring home – one that dwells thoughtfully and sensitively, enabling a well-designed way of life. Not only did the winning project – Cornwall Gardens, a family residence in Singapore – meet this criteria, it completely took our breath away! The stunning home, which was designed by Chang Architects, is shrouded in greenery and features a swimming pool, waterfall, Koi carp pond and a terraced roof garden. As with most of Chang Architects’ projects, it embraces biophilic design to enhance the wellbeing of its inhabitants by reconnecting them to nature. Here we speak to the company’s founder Chang Yong Ter.
What was your brief for the Cornwall Gardens project?
The following was from my Client: “We like the home to be an “open” home which will have as much foliage and water elements as possible (taking into account maintenance consideration) making it a cool tropical paradise for the family and hopefully encourage them to raise their families there when they grow up.”
How much of this project was influenced by evidence-based design?
There was no formal research done nor data collected during the design phase for this project. Most of the design decisions were based on experiences and accumulated knowledge, and through assimilations in the environments that I have personally experienced.
How do you believe the design of this house will positively affect its residents?
Prior to the family moving in, I always believed that the design of this house will make a comfortable and peaceful home for the multi-generation family. I must say that the presence of nature makes this possible. This would be a totally different environment without the plants, water and the natural materials that compose the whole setting. The family members have positive feedback when they started living in it, and graciously invited my family to stay at their Guest Room as a gesture of their appreciation. They wanted me to experience for myself what it feels to be living in this house.
Do you take a biophilic approach to most of your projects and how important do you think it is to incorporate nature into our built environments?
Yes, as long as my client supports this. Even if they don’t, I will encourage them to do so. We are part of nature, it is only natural and beneficial to live with, or at least close to nature. I believe that by alienating ourselves from nature, we are cutting ourselves from a natural, invaluable source of life force that generates our states of well-being. Children, in particular, are generally happier and healthier when they are constantly in touch with nature. Studies have proven that children with little exposure to nature tend to suffer from depression now or later in life.
What professional achievement are you most proud of so far?
I am most proud of my latest achievement – now being recognised for The Living Space Award in this inaugural INDE.Awards! Thank You!
What do you think makes your practice stand out from others?
I am not sure of this, because I often remind myself to stay focused myself and on what is at hand – to do the best that I can for every task that I have been given and committed to.
How would you characterise the A+D industry in the APAC region today?
The focus of the world, with design underlined.
Any advice for aspiring young architects looking to set up their own firm?
Listen to your heart, go with the flow. Think with love not fear.
The Living Space Award was sponsored by Gaggenau – another company that helps people live well through thoughtful design. The German brand has been pioneering new technologies since conception 333 years ago – from electric ovens and built-in appliances to steam cooking for the domestic sphere. All of its products are very carefully considered down to the smallest details and feature striking, sculptural forms that will emphasise a kitchen’s beauty rather than its functionality, despite always being at the forefront of new technology. Just like Chang Architects, Gaggenau is an industry leader on the global stage, and one from which its contemporaries can learn a great deal.