Simple and green make a beautiful pair

Simple and green make a beautiful pair

With the latest design programmes and the advent of technology, home architecture around the world has become increasingly complex with structures once believed to defy the laws of physics emerging across homes in our neighbourhoods.

However, though complexity might be beautiful (if done tastefully), many homeowners are starting to appreciate that less could perhaps be more amid the urban jungle we live in today.

"Cleaner line architectural designs are increasingly popular especially among the younger homeowners, with materials such as off-form concrete, steel and glass gaining favour over more traditional materials such as marble, granite and timber," said Lim Cheng Kooi of AR43 Architects.

In addition, this tilt towards artistic simplicity has also revived the importance of greenery and environmentally friendly structures within a modern home.

Notably, the green movement has been one of the biggest influences in urban home architecture this year with more Singapore homeowners seeking to achieve a naturalistic balance in the form of "living" walls and garden terraces.

In particular, "living" walls (also known as vertical greens and green walls) are fast becoming a trend as an exterior option for landed homes, said architect Randy Chan.

Comprising several modular panels, which contain soil or other growing mediums, many varieties of plants can be grown within an efficient space vertically, while providing shade and insulation to the sides of a home, reducing electricity bills from excessive air-conditioning in the long run.

"Homeowners are increasingly taken by 'self-cooling' structures within a home especially in tropical Singapore.

And, as architects, we have been constantly looking at new ideas and reinterpreting existing ideas such as green cooling, water cooling and cross ventilation designs for our projects," said Robin Tan from Wallflower Architecture + Design.

Moreover, green features such as "living" walls also double as fantastic sound buffers for houses located next to busy roads (an inevitable part of living in a densely populated island), as the plants and the growing mediums block much of the unwanted noise.

One example of a home built with a green theme in mind, was a recently completed project by Aamer Architects off Orchard Road.

Said Aamer, principal of Aamer Architects: "Some of the basic principles (behind this project) are deep roof overhangs, plenty of natural light, ventilation and passive cooling via an innovative layout."

Some interesting environmentally friendly features pointed out by the architect included an outdoor garden terrace and a top-deck swimming pool which serve to reduce rooftop heat gain, keeping the interior of the home cool.

As for the rest of the facade, floor-to-ceiling glass windows have become the de facto choice as owners seek to bring the outside into their homes.

In particular, houses with a view, such as those along Sentosa Cove, tend to have wide-reaching glass panels that offer a panoramic sweep of the surrounding sea view.

Glass structures on the roof, in place of standard opaque materials, are also gaining traction of late as many turn to the beauty of natural light within a home, as compared with the less environmentally friendly option of keeping the lights on during the day.

"There has been a pronounced shift towards establishing a closer relationship between the inside and outside of homes today, as homeowners seek to assimilate their daily activities within the house with what's happening outside," shared Linghao from Linghao Architects.

For instance, instead of buying expensive art pieces, many homeowners have turned to the option of building a central garden within their home, featuring certain species of trees (such as Banyan trees) as a form of artwork.

Having said that, one man's meat may be another man's poison.

And while adopting as many of these wonderful green features within a sharp modern exterior may be great for the environment, the home must still be able to cater to the occupant's needs and lifestyle.

Therefore, "the greatest challenge still lies with a designer to listen closely to a client's needs and creating something architecturally exciting for them as there is no one solution that suits all", noted AR43 Architects's Mr Lim.

This tilt towards artistic simplicity has also revived the importance of greenery and environmentally friendly structures.

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