Spaces that ace

PHOTO: Spaces that ace

Housing the old and the new

Where: Intersection of Linden Drive and Jalan Naga Sari

By: Formwerkz Architects

Won: Building of the Year and Design Award (Residential Projects)

An airy, high-ceiling atrium forms a bridge between a post-war house and its contemporary extension.

The space has grown from 2,500 sq ft to about 4,000 sq ft to fit three generations living under one roof - nine family members in total.

The children live in the old wing of the house while the older members live in the new extension.

Architect Alan Tay, 40, a partner at Formwerkz Architects, which he founded 15 years ago, says: "Having the children live in the old wing - with a charming and simple design common in the 1970s - is about imparting memories of old houses to the younger generation."

To bridge the old and new wings, MrTay included two intimate courtyard spaces and a lap pool to create a "water barrier of privacy". A road separates the house from Nanyang Girls' High School.

Construction started about 11/2 years ago and cost less than $1.5 million.

Spaces that ace

  • The trapeziumshaped canopies (left) are inspired by traditional Malay houses and Japanese origami.
  • The washroom in River Safari has a pond, which has fishes that help to prevent mosquitoes from breeding.
  • The old brick walls stand out in the kitchen of the house which lets daylight in.
  • The old brick walls stand out in the kitchen of the house which lets daylight in.
  • The pool deck and the bridge (above) of the house by Formwerkz Architects which won Building of the Year and Design Award (Residential Projects).
  • The pool deck (above) and the bridge of the house by Formwerkz Architects which won Building of the Year and Design Award (Residential Projects).

Book a shop for home

Where: Joo Chiat

By: Chang Architects

Won: Design Award in the Special category, and the Best Project Constructed under $1.5 million

To transform an old book shop into a home, architect Chang Yong Ter approached the project like an archaeological dig.

"It was a continuous process of discovering and recovering," says Mr Chang, 44, who started Chang Architects in 2000.

As the Joo Chiat shophouse used to be a book shop called The Lucky Book Store in the 1920s, he wanted to keep its heritage.

This includes the signage on the pillars, which he dabbed with sealer so it would not flake, and unearthing the base paint - a beige and light emerald green tone - from decades of paint coatings.

Spaces that ace

  • The trapeziumshaped canopies (left) are inspired by traditional Malay houses and Japanese origami.
  • The washroom in River Safari has a pond, which has fishes that help to prevent mosquitoes from breeding.
  • The old brick walls stand out in the kitchen of the house which lets daylight in.
  • The old brick walls stand out in the kitchen of the house which lets daylight in.
  • The pool deck and the bridge (above) of the house by Formwerkz Architects which won Building of the Year and Design Award (Residential Projects).
  • The pool deck (above) and the bridge of the house by Formwerkz Architects which won Building of the Year and Design Award (Residential Projects).

The total cost of restoring the shophouse was less than $1 million, with cost savings coming from using basic materials such as concrete floors, rather than marble or granite, at the front of the shophouse, says MrChang.

The owners are a Singaporean couple based in China, who wanted a flexible and open floorplan.

They bought the shophouse, which sits on a plot of land of about 1,300 sq ft, in 2006. It was an empty space, with its bookstore trappings - shelves and counters - long gone.

Mr Chang removed the partitions within the shophouse so that the old brick walls and timber rafters could stand out in the wider space. A single-storey extension was added to the back of the property, a quirky surprise of discovering "a house within the shophouse", he says.

A side passageway leading to a corner toilet on the second storey of the house was removed to create a large dining space - which works as a central gathering spot overlooking the garden - says Mr Chang.

The "sensitive interplay of the old and new" impressed the jury, along with the attention paid to the tectonics, materiality and detailing of the house.

In a citation, the jury said: "The interfaces between materials and various architectural features such as light and ventilation slots, and full-height timber doors, are elegantly detailed, adding a calming air of minimalism and exquisiteness."

Spaces that ace

  • The trapeziumshaped canopies (left) are inspired by traditional Malay houses and Japanese origami.
  • The washroom in River Safari has a pond, which has fishes that help to prevent mosquitoes from breeding.
  • The old brick walls stand out in the kitchen of the house which lets daylight in.
  • The old brick walls stand out in the kitchen of the house which lets daylight in.
  • The pool deck and the bridge (above) of the house by Formwerkz Architects which won Building of the Year and Design Award (Residential Projects).
  • The pool deck (above) and the bridge of the house by Formwerkz Architects which won Building of the Year and Design Award (Residential Projects).

Restroom pond with a purpose

Where: River Safari

By: DP Architects

Won: Design Award in the Completed Projects category of the SIA-Rigel Bathroom Design Awards

Step into this restroom at the River Safari, and the first thing you see is a fish pond with tiny colourful guppies, surrounded by aquatic plants.

A skylight with a wooden trellis completes the toilet's "semi-outdoor" feel, says associate director Ng San Son, 37, of DP Architects.

But the aesthetics also serve a purpose: The fish keep mosquitoes from breeding while the tall shrubs lining the pond's edges act as a natural privacy barrier, says Mr Cham Tud Yinn, 46, director of exhibit design and development at Wildlife Reserves Singapore.

Placing the water feature in the centre is a move away from similar open-concept toilets at the Night Safari and Singapore Zoo, says Mr Cham. "It is the River Safari after all, so we wanted to highlight a water feature, rather than placing it quietly by the side."

Construction of the River Safari started in 2010 and ended this February - about six months were spent on the entrance plaza, where the awardwinning toilets are housed. The designers declined to reveal the cost of the project.

While the facility showcases nature, Mr Ng says it was necessary to go "faux natural". No real wood was used as it would not weather well in Singapore's tropical climate. Instead, cement fibre boards were used.

For its "excellent blend of skylight and garden", the jury has given these loos the thumbs up. In a citation, it wrote: "The open concept encourages cross ventilation and spatial quality is enhanced by integrating landscape and natural elements. The layouts are carefully organised to serve large numbers of people and are planned with constant framing of nature and garden spaces."

Spaces that ace

  • The trapeziumshaped canopies (left) are inspired by traditional Malay houses and Japanese origami.
  • The washroom in River Safari has a pond, which has fishes that help to prevent mosquitoes from breeding.
  • The old brick walls stand out in the kitchen of the house which lets daylight in.
  • The old brick walls stand out in the kitchen of the house which lets daylight in.
  • The pool deck and the bridge (above) of the house by Formwerkz Architects which won Building of the Year and Design Award (Residential Projects).
  • The pool deck (above) and the bridge of the house by Formwerkz Architects which won Building of the Year and Design Award (Residential Projects).

Rooftop takes flight

Where: Gallop Road

By: K2LD Architects

Won: Design Award, Residential Projects category

The canopy-like "wings" of this house borrow inspiration from traditional Malay houses and Japanese origami.

Perched on the rooftop, these wings appear light, but are really massive structures made of aluminium, teak and steel.

"Think of them as the wings of an airplane - sturdy yet seemingly light because they taper towards the end," explains architect Ko Shiou Hee, 49.

He is the director of K2LD Architects, which he founded 13 years ago.

The two trapezium-shaped roof canopies are a nod to Singapore's temperamental tropical weather, says Mr Ko.

Spaces that ace

  • The trapeziumshaped canopies (left) are inspired by traditional Malay houses and Japanese origami.
  • The washroom in River Safari has a pond, which has fishes that help to prevent mosquitoes from breeding.
  • The old brick walls stand out in the kitchen of the house which lets daylight in.
  • The old brick walls stand out in the kitchen of the house which lets daylight in.
  • The pool deck and the bridge (above) of the house by Formwerkz Architects which won Building of the Year and Design Award (Residential Projects).
  • The pool deck (above) and the bridge of the house by Formwerkz Architects which won Building of the Year and Design Award (Residential Projects).

They provide shelter during seasonal downpours and shade in sunny weather. The canopy-like structure also aids the flow of air and light into the property, says Mr Ko.

Timber is used heavily in the space to blend the house with the surrounding greenery. Burmese teak is used for the undersides of the roof while darker Chengai wood adorns the sun-shade screens

The award-winning building grew out of a triangular plot, with the land sloping downwards. Mr Ko says many Singaporeans would shun such an odd-shaped piece of land. The owners are a couple from India and Malaysia who have become Singapore citizens. They declined to be interviewed.

"Despite the odd shape, the owners felt that they did not want a foreign-looking house plonked into the land. They wanted a house that blended well with the environment," says Mr Ko.

To handle this, the property's three palm trees, which are more than 20 years old each, take centre stage alongside the roof canopy. And instead of levelling the sloping land,Mr Ko carved a basement out of the slope.

Construction on the 7,000 sq ft house started in 2011 and ended last year.

Of the award, Mr Ko says: "I am happy because this is such an unusual house, and more so because it is a home that responds well to the terrain of the land."

The play on the roof of the house impressed the jury, who dubbed it a "unique and rather organic piece of architecture". It said in a citation: "The handling of materiality and detailing is skilful in bringing out the lightness of the roof... (which is) successful in cohesive expression and aesthetics, with a good balance of functionality and drama."


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Spaces that ace

  • The trapeziumshaped canopies (left) are inspired by traditional Malay houses and Japanese origami.
  • The washroom in River Safari has a pond, which has fishes that help to prevent mosquitoes from breeding.
  • The old brick walls stand out in the kitchen of the house which lets daylight in.
  • The old brick walls stand out in the kitchen of the house which lets daylight in.
  • The pool deck and the bridge (above) of the house by Formwerkz Architects which won Building of the Year and Design Award (Residential Projects).
  • The pool deck (above) and the bridge of the house by Formwerkz Architects which won Building of the Year and Design Award (Residential Projects).