Watch: A Singaporean Family Bungalow In Johor Bahru With 11 Bedrooms In 'Remarkable Living', A Singapore Tatler x CNA Luxury TV Series
Chris and his family used to live in a house in bustling Singapore, with a garden “the size of a carpet”. His three children were growing up fast, so he decided he not only wanted a larger home to accommodate their needs, but also to escape from city life.
“I wanted somewhere where the kids could grow up well, where they had places to run in a very safe and secure home,” said Chris.
He and his wife found a sprawling 43,000 sqft plot in Johor Bahru, Malaysia, to build their dream home, and enlisted the help of their architect friends, Seetoh Kum and Alan Tay, two of the four co-founders of Singapore-based Formwerkz Architects.
The firm, which was established in 2004, has several awards under its belt: The Building of the Year and Design Awards from the Singapore Institute of Architecture (SIA); the International Architecture Award from the Chicago Athenaeum and the European Urban Centre for Architecture, Art, Design and Urban Studies; International Design Awards (IDA); Design For Asia Award by Hong Kong Design Centre; Dubai Cityscape Design Award.
Kum and Tay were tasked to design a single-storey home that was private and conducive for family life. “Something safe and with a sense of security; a place where they can socialise, a place where the kids can grow up in for a long time,” said Kum.
(Related: Designing The Perfect Family Home With A French Twist)
“That gave us the idea that the courtyard typology was perfect in the sense that a certain level of fortification allowed us to retain that,” said Tay.
Drawing inspiration from the historic House of the Faun in Italy, a Roman villa with multiple cloistered courtyards which dates to the 2nd century CE; and from tropical modernist architect Geoffrey Bawa’s 33rd Lane House in Sri Lanka—four adjacent bungalow houses with gardens that were transformed into a single sprawling home over a period of 10 years—the 11-bedroom house was designed with multiple cloistered courtyards to organise the various spaces.
A high wall around the compound encloses the surrounds. Nine large courtyards bring in light and breeze throughout the home.
“The courtyards frame the living environment in terms of the different zones. At different times of the day, the sunlight casts a different light, and brings a different ambience and a different mood to the house. It warms up the house in the evenings when the courtyards are lit, and this provides a very different scenery,” said Chris.
The strikingly geometric, dramatic pyramidal timber-clad ceilings were assembled piece by piece by a craftsman who took 14 months to complete the work.
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“It’s my favourite part of the house as it gives character to the different pockets of spaces,” said Tay.
“When we have visitors, it is the ceiling that becomes the talking point, which is great because when we first moved in, we didn’t have much furniture,” Chris joked.
The inverse pitch of the roof also adds functionality, as it channels water into the courtyards’ various gardens and ponds. The house also contains several surprises, such as a ladder leading up to an attic playroom, an entertainment room, a roof terrace, a pool, and lots of striking vistas at every turn.
“My favourite part of the house is at the end of the pool, looking into the house, you really start to appreciate the house coming together. The glass enables you to look into the house. It gives you a sneak preview of what’s going on in the living space,” said Chris.
Access is a collaboration between Singapore Tatler and CNA Luxury.
Catch the full episode of 'Remarkable Living' on Channel NewsAsia, on Dec 1, Sunday at 8.30pm.
Episode 1 | Episode 2
- Images Freestate Productions
- Photography JASPER YU, ASSISTED BY JACK YEO