Old, quaint and so perfect

Old, quaint and so perfect

At the crest of a hillock in Bin Tong Park, two quaint English-style cottages overlook the modern residential developments in the neighbourhood.

Creative couple turns odd, old house into cosy home

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    At the crest of a hillock in Bin Tong Park, two quaint English-style cottages overlook the modern residential developments in the neighbourhood.

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    Built in the 1930s, they are showing their age. Squirrels have come visiting in gaps in the eaves. The long teak floorboards within are squeaky and the swing iron windows do not shut tight.

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    It is perhaps fitting then that the married couple behind a book titled Horror In Architecture should live in one of these "cottages" - perched, as it seems, at an enchanted vantage point above whatever more contemporary crimes in the art of making buildings that may lurk out there.

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    Architects Ong Ker-Shing and Joshua Comaroff wrote a tongue-in-cheek tome devoted to alternate history of architecture. Buildings featured include celebrated architect Frank Gehry's IAC Building (2007) in New York.

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    Ong, 37, who has lived in the Leedon Park family home since she was 12, says: "It is often very hard for young architects to live in houses like this because it's too expensive. It's by sheer chance that we can experience such a house with such architecture, where space is so decompressed."

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    Her retired surgeon father and paediatrician mother bought the plot of land, on which the two houses stand, in the 1980s. Ong, the eldest of four children, shared one house with her brother. Her parents and other two siblings lived in the other.

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    Today, she shares it with Mr Comaroff, 39, and their children - Mila Bea, four, and Leo, two. The couple met at the Harvard Graduate School of Design and wed in 2005. Her parents, now in their 60s, and two siblings still live in the other house. One brother lives nearby.

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    Manchester-born Comaroff says of the 4,000 sq ft two-storey house: "There was a relaxed approach to building this place, where they created garden spaces and empty spots. Now, everyone wants to build right to the edge and compress everything."

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    Living in such an old house does have its quirks, say the couple, who lived in the United States and Shanghai before settling in Singapore in 2004.

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    They could not fail to notice that, among other things, many spaces were designed without any clear purpose. For example, one staircase landing was so huge, it could have been turned into a room on its own. There were also several baffling nooks.

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    So the couple got creative. They turned the empty spaces into usable ones, such as a library at the top of the stairs and children's playrooms.

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    Mr Comaroff adds: "We drill into the kids to be careful when they play or go out into the driveway, rather than childproof everything. There's always the potential of danger everywhere."

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    Reminders of Ms Ong's childhood still linger here. In the living room, there is a large tree mural, which she and her siblings painted in her teens.

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    While most people would want to fix the oddities of the place, the couple love its old feel.

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    Ms Ong says: "It's an architect's desire to always be in control and have everything new and nice. But after you live in a house like this, you develop some tolerance. You don't have to design every angle."

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Built in the 1930s, they are showing their age. Squirrels have come visiting in gaps in the eaves. The long teak floorboards within are squeaky and the swing iron windows do not shut tight.

It is perhaps fitting then that the married couple behind a book titled Horror In Architecture should live in one of these "cottages" - perched, as it seems, at an enchanted vantage point above whatever more contemporary crimes in the art of making buildings that may lurk out there.

Architects Ong Ker-Shing and Joshua Comaroff wrote a tongue-in-cheek tome devoted to alternate history of architecture. Buildings featured include celebrated architect Frank Gehry's IAC Building (2007) in New York.

Ong, 37, who has lived in the Leedon Park family home since she was 12, says: "It is often very hard for young architects to live in houses like this because it's too expensive. It's by sheer chance that we can experience such a house with such architecture, where space is so decompressed."

Her retired surgeon father and paediatrician mother bought the plot of land, on which the two houses stand, in the 1980s. Ong, the eldest of four children, shared one house with her brother. Her parents and other two siblings lived in the other.

Today, she shares it with Mr Comaroff, 39, and their children - Mila Bea, four, and Leo, two. The couple met at the Harvard Graduate School of Design and wed in 2005. Her parents, now in their 60s, and two siblings still live in the other house. One brother lives nearby.

Manchester-born Comaroff says of the 4,000 sq ft two-storey house: "There was a relaxed approach to building this place, where they created garden spaces and empty spots. Now, everyone wants to build right to the edge and compress everything."

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