Private enclosure

Private enclosure
PHOTO: Albert Lim

The brief for architect Robin Tan was simple but firm: "I want a house with four walls and no windows".

The house in question is a bungalow in the East Coast, owned by a professional in the energy industry, and his wife, who works in finance.

The Singaporean couple are intensely private.

"We like to have a sense of security in out home, the feeling that no one can look in," explains the homeowner.

Mr Tan and his team at Wallflower Architecture + Design naturally took the request in their stride.

But rather than create four solid walls, Mr Tan convinced the couple to clad their home in vertical timber strips made of balau wood.

"This will allow ventilation into the home, and also give them a view of the outside, while not letting the neighbours see too much of the inside," says Mr Tan.

On the outside, the two-storey bungalow resembles a container, albeit a very stylish one.

As the owners also wanted a courtyard, Mr Tan's team ensured that this was the focal point of the inward-looking house.

It is no ordinary courtyard - taking pride of place is a square swimming pool with a single large frangipani tree that is over 100 years old, in the centre. Mr Tan designed the interiors of the house to look into this space.

Wallflower Architecture + Design: Bungalow in the East Coast

"We enjoy sitting by the pool, admiring the tree and enjoying the peace, especially on a moon-lit night," says the homeowner.

He jokes that despite moving in four years ago, "we hardly use the dining area", which is located in the front of the house. Instead, they prefer to dine at the island counter in the kitchen, which overlooks the pool.

As the couple have no kids, the number of bedrooms was kept to a minimum.

There is one on the first floor, and three on the second.

A large proportion of the second floor is devoted to the couple's bedroom, which has an air-conditioned bathroom - another of the homeowner's quirky requests.

The couple's large collection of crystals dot the home. "We like them for the positive energy that they give off," says the homeowner.

Elsewhere in the home are displays of Buddha figurines, a reflection of the couple's religion, including some antique pieces.

The homeowner recalls how,when the house was still under construction, neighbours were worried that its design would mar the neighbourhood's charm.

"They thought it would be ugly, but I told them not to worry," he says.

At night, when the blinds are up, the house resembles a giant lantern.

"The house looks beautiful doesn't it?"

This article was first published on January 28, 2017.
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