Open House, Singapore

Designed by: Gwen Tan Tze Suen
For client: Herself Floor area: 428.59 M² Year of completion: 2017
Submitted for: House of the Year

Public Score
6.95 Function
6.93 Innovation
7.11 Creativity
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© Fabian Ong

An intimate courtyard with filtered daylight greets anyone entering through the main entrance.

About the Project

In the case of the Open House, the Architect was designing a multi-generation home for herself, her husband, a son and his two grannies.

Due to the couple’s busy work schedule on weekdays, weekends are precious to catch up on family time. There is an eagerness to see and hear everyone when they are home on the weekends. The couple’s desire to take in the sights and sounds of their family members about their activities in the house also influenced the planning of the spaces within the house.
A central driver to fulfil this desire was embracing openness in the house, so as to create visual connections in the living spaces of the house so that family members could see, hear each other and have conversations easily throughout the house although they may be scattered around the house. Openness was sought in all aspects of the design, to the external and nature and internally, amongst the living spaces for the family.

In increasingly urbanized and dense Singapore, low-rise dwellings have become increasingly introverted. Opportunistic of the lush verdure of canopies surrounding the site, the design aspired for a permeable architecture that not only borrowed lush views but imbued the house with an openness to its surrounding context of the neighbourhood through the use of contemporary tropical architecture elements.

What’s unique about it

By embracing openness to its site context, the house extends the natural existing habitat for wildlife into the house, creating a welcoming sanctuary for flora and fauna to flourish alongside humans in the urban built environment, a sight truly rare in the urban-scape of Singapore.

The house is an example of a tropical architecture designed to well acclimatise to the local climatic context of Singapore by being extremely open and porous internally and to its surroundings.

On the facade, a metal screen of varying porosity screen allows wind to move through the house, cooling the spaces as it moves over the indoor pool and out through the ventilated glass roof over the central atrium, facilitating effective cross ventilation into the rooms at all levels.

Being open, the heighten sense of light, sound, smell and sight of the neighbourhood is truly refreshing. Any change in light of the sky can be immediately felt from within the atrium. This openness enhances the living space and breeds connectivity and is reminiscent of reliving the “kampong spirit”, (a traditional communal village way of living in developing asian countries) something the family likes to build on.

© Marc Tan

Street view of building exterior.

© Marc Tan

The living room. Suspended over the kitchen, the lap pool borrows the view of the rear greenery.

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© Fabian Ong

The front atrium features a 10m tall Memphat tree.

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© Marc Tan

The indoor pool with an outdoor feel. Plants provide the layered privacy together with facade screen

© Alan Tay

The facade screen is fully openable to effective cool the interior spaces via stack effect.

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© Fabian Ong

The steel rod suspended staircase is the key feature of the central atrium, offering good vantage.

© Marc Tan

The staircase stack designed with open treads facilitate effective cross ventilation into the rooms.

© Marc Tan

The muted earthy interior palette complements the lush surrounding lush verdure.


Plan and Section Drawings

Location of project:
Formwerkz Architects

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