Plot your way to the top

PHOTO: Plot your way to the top

Drive down Lornie Road and a newly built house at the corner of Andrew Road catches your eye with its well-manicured, expansive garden of green grass.

But instead of being on the ground, the "garden" is on the rooftop of the six-bedroom house.

It is a bold move to green the roof this way, but principal director and architect Warren Liu of A D Lab says that with most of the house below ground level, the artificial turf insulates the house from heat and the pitter-patter of rain, for example, and also makes it look interesting.

"It becomes perceived ground," Mr Liu, 46, says. "Most of the house is 3m below street level, so you would see a lot of the concrete and steel roof, especially if you're standing in the master bedroom which overlooks the entire property. It can look ugly, so the grass helps to conceal that."

The 6,000 sq ft house belongs to a 46-year-old lawyer and his wife, a 32-year-old relationship manager with a private bank. They do not have children and live there with his elderly parents. It is split into two sections, separated by a swimming pool. After seven months of designing and planning, the construction took place over 15 months.

The front part of the house is where the communal spaces are. The study is the first thing guests see when they enter the house. Head downstairs and they can mingle in a living room with a high ceiling and that overlooks the pool.

The bedrooms occupy the other part of the house. The elderly folk have a room on the lowest floor while two guestrooms take up the second floor.

The home owners' master bedroom occupies the entire third level. It boasts an open-concept bathroom (right) with minimalist custom-made white basins and a bathtub. Its windows are clad with grey, aluminium louvres on the outside. These can be tilted open, so the owners can look out but passers-by cannot look in.

Walking through the house feels like you are exploring a secret maze, with its secret nooks. For example, there are various entrances to get to the different rooms in the bedroom block from different levels.

Mr Liu, who runs a seven-year-old architectural and interior design firm, says: "This gives the different users privacy in case they want to bypass common areas where guests are."

He says the house is a hotbed for heat at the basement level, as wind does not follow down naturally. Its proximity to the road makes noise pollution a potential problem as well.

His solution was to vary the levels of the house and put in airwells (above). These trap the prevailing wind and direct it through the property. As for the noise, 4cm-thick timber batons were put in on the ceilings of the car porch and roof eaves to act as acoustic barriers.

Mr Liu says: "We try to discourage the use of air-conditioning because for a house this size, that would be a huge carbon footprint. Having a pool helps, too, because the water evaporates and this helps cool the house."

Inside, much of the colour scheme is made up of natural tones of light and dark wood and white surfaces. Mr Liu describes the client as being a "minimalist guy who did not want a lot of clutter".

On his design philosophy for the project, he adds: "We just kept it as simple as possible."

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