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Art Design This Minimalist House Is A Clever Mix Of Concrete And Glass

This Minimalist House Is A Clever Mix Of Concrete And Glass

This Minimalist House Is A Clever Mix Of Concrete And Glass
By Lynn Tan
November 30, 2018
Designed by Inte Architects, this Singapore home creates plenty of social spaces for a multi-generational family, while staying true to its modern and minimalist influence
A link bridge connects the two concrete blocks
A link bridge connects the two concrete blocks

The homeowner and his family have been living in this property for many years, but a growing brood of grandchildren prompted him to embark on a redevelopment project. His brief to architect Chan Loo Siang, design principal of Inte Architects, was simple: to build a multi-generation home that would cater to the needs of the family.

“Architecture is doing, not seeing; making, not impressing,” shares Chan, as he explains his design philosophy. With that in mind, he sought to design a house that is a thoughtful blend of modern design and practical style.

(Related: Home Tour: A Modern House For The Minimalist)

The pool area is styled with the Kartell Discovolante toy car, Cassina Réaction poétique low table and B&B Italia Crinoline armchair, all from Space Furniture
The pool area is styled with the Kartell Discovolante toy car, Cassina Réaction poétique low table and B&B Italia Crinoline armchair, all from Space Furniture

The architectural massing comprises two clearly legible orthogonal volumes connected by a link bridge overlooking the pool. “They are like two concrete boxes that are pulled apart on the sides, yet connected at the same time,” Chan describes. “The client wanted a sizeable pool and deck in between the two blocks, so we pushed them towards the front and rear of the plot respectively.”

The external facades are finished in concrete, a material that Chan chose for its sense of permanence and solidity. He was inspired by the works of Belgian architect Juliaan Lampens, which feature the extensive use of off-form concrete that expresses a sense of robust scale, but in a fluid, malleable way. “I love that the off-form concrete appears brutal, yet softens under natural lighting,” says the architect.

(Related: Home Tour: A Villa With Interiors Inspired by Zaha Hadid)

Full-length windows fill the house with natural daylight, and the living area decorated with the owner’s favourite Poltrona Frau furniture and pendant lights from Moooi
Full-length windows fill the house with natural daylight, and the living area decorated with the owner’s favourite Poltrona Frau furniture and pendant lights from Moooi

Two types of concrete finishes were used: off-form timber textured concrete for the block up front and fair-faced concrete for the rear block. This distinction reflects the symbolic relationship between the two blocks.

“The rear block is like an offspring, which is independent yet remains attached to the parent,” explains Chan. There is also an architectural dialogue between the dark grey timber-textured concrete which conveys a more rustic look, versus the light grey concrete that has a more Japanese touch to it.

(Related: Home Tour: A Chef's Chic Monochromatic Apartment In South Africa)

The living area is styled withB&B Italia tableware, Serralunga Cup planter and Kartell Kabuki lamp,all from Space Furniture
The living area is styled withB&B Italia tableware, Serralunga Cup planter and Kartell Kabuki lamp,all from Space Furniture

The house sits on a slope and the road level at the main entrance is approximately 4.5 metres higher than the deck towards the rear. It features a discreet main entrance leading from the car porch, which complements the understated exterior of the house.

A concrete box housing the family room extends above the car porch. The juxtaposition of the heavy material with a cantilevered structure presents an interesting contrast that lends complexity to an understated expression. 

A curved bridge that floats above the living area
A curved bridge that floats above the living area

The entrance foyer is on the mezzanine, which hovers between the pool deck and the main living and dining areas at the ground floor and the bedrooms and family room on the second storey. The lift lobby at the foyer is next to a flight of stairs that lead to the master bedroom.

A horseshoe-shaped bridge above the entrance foyer (pictured above) suggests a fluidity of movement that permeates the entire home, linking the internal spaces in a continuous loop.

A curved stairway beside the family room leads to the bedrooms on the third floor
A curved stairway beside the family room leads to the bedrooms on the third floor

“When designing the circulation, I drew inspiration from the way Brazilian architect Lina Bo Bardi managed to orchestrate movement in her glass house project, Casa de Vidro,” Chan shares. To create this sense of movement, a series of corridors, decks, link bridges and platforms increase the connectivity between its interior spaces.

Openings on the facades reinforce the visual connection, while enhancing natural cross-ventilation with their north-south orientation. Vertically, the connection is established through staircases, lifts and skylights.

The perforated screens at the link bridge play with light and shadow
The perforated screens at the link bridge play with light and shadow

The complexity of the crisscrossing spaces, volumes and circulation required much attention. Chan conceptualised and resolved those using models, working simultaneously on the plan, section and three-dimensional aspects.

“The occupants can move seamlessly throughout the home and there are no dead corners. Every space and room is well- connected to the rest of the house, even in the basement,” shares the architect.

(Related: Design Speak: Sou Fujimoto Blends Nature With Architecture)

Inspired by the homeowner's passion for music, the family room which overlooks the car porch has become the owner’s personal lounge.

A view of the stairway from the mezzanine
A view of the stairway from the mezzanine

To optimise the land area, a basement, which extends across both blocks was excavated to house the entertainment room, gym, dance studio and service areas, as well as a guest room.

“The homeowner had originally wanted a basement car park, but due to site constraints, we were unable to accommodate the length and turning radius of the ramp that was required,” Chan explains.

True to the circulation concept that Chan devised, the basement remains well-connected to the rest of the house by incorporating natural light, natural ventilation and greenery into the subterranean level. 

Equipped with a Lazy Susan, the dining table by the poolside caters to the family’s large gatherings;  the pool area is styled with the Kartell Discovolante toy car
Equipped with a Lazy Susan, the dining table by the poolside caters to the family’s large gatherings; the pool area is styled with the Kartell Discovolante toy car

The project was not without its challenges. Even with a sizeable land area, addressing the needs of a large extended family can be tricky. Reconciling the circulation with the various levels and spaces was also no mean feat. Neither was working with a material such as concrete, which entailed meticulous planning prior to casting.

Devising ingenious design solutions that comply with regulations in terms of planning and envelope control, especially on a plot with a sloping topography, without compromising on the architectural intent also took much design fortitude.

But in overcoming these challenges, the scheme becomes more robust, much like the material with which the home is built with and the ties that bind the family.

(Related: Home Tour: A Super Yacht-Inspired Vacation Villa)


This story was adapted from Singapore Tatler Homes Oct-Nov 2018

Art Direction and Styling: Khairul Ali

Photography: Jasper Yu, assisted by Tan Ming Yuan

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