Raw beauty

Raw beauty

AARON Soh and Mindy Ler have lived in their home for almost two years, but visitors still ask if the space is ready yet. You can't blame them - the Upper Thomson semi-detached still looks half done. The concrete walls look like they could do with a coat of paint, a dent on the staircase probably needs to be filled, and those wooden planks on the wall would look better sanded down to a smooth finish.

But no. The couple, founders of Authentic Builder, insist their home is 100 per cent complete. To others, the home looks more "before" than "after" but Ms Ler says, "for us, we like living in a home where it feels like the building is still ongoing".

The brief to architect Goh Chioh Hui of Studiogoto was precisely that: to make it look like a work in progress and to show off the beauty of raw materials. Mr Goh says "not many will be able to accept the raw state of a house".

The former single storey home was torn down, and rebuilt into a two-storey home with an attic. Almost 90 per cent of the home is made of concrete, from the floor to the walls, some of which are three storeys high, to the pillars in the dining area and even to the bathroom sinks.

What is unusual about the concrete walls are the vertical grooves on them, which are normally plastered over, but in this case have been left exposed. The grooves are formed where the different pieces of concrete are joined together.

On some parts of the wall, the concrete has been exposed, showing up the natural internal irregularity of the concrete mix, "basically exposing the different aggregates and sizes of concrete mixture", Mr Goh explains. Once in a while, bits of concrete drop off, but the couple are not too bothered.

Mr Soh says that concrete is a very telling material, and mistakes made when using it can be easily seen. But rather than plaster any defects over, he has left them as they are, not that there are many. "They are a testament to my experience as a builder, says the veteran who has over 25 years of experience.

Used indoors, concrete helps cool the home, and is also a cost-saving material. "You don't have to worry about it being scratched, and its grey colour allows for easy colour selection when shopping for furniture," says Mr Goh. The family opted for a dark grey sofa set, with matching carpet for a softer touch.

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