This house is a large dwelling but the architect has skillfully welded together rich and contrasting milieus as settings for everyday life, and in the process imparted a sense of intimacy. Elements of an older house on the site have been incorporated into the plan. The plan is arranged to create visual connections between the various parts of the dwelling. There are different viewpoints from which to perceive the house as it gradually unfolds. The façade facing the public road is relatively impermeable, while the private, north-facing elevation is more open and transparent. Despite the expanse of glass on the northern elevation, the house is cool internally.
The house form embraces two large courts of contrasting character. The eastern court, at the upper level, is landscaped with turf and plants. It is an open extension of the living/reception space and allows family and guests to spill out into the garden in the evening. In complete contrast, the lower court at the western end of the site is a magical space filled with water and lush vegetation. Timber decks, pergolas and pavilions encompass a glittering blue-green swimming pool and a smaller child’s pool with gushing fountains, waterfalls and koi ponds, reminiscent of a Balinese water court. There is an element of surprise as one moves from the upper court to the lower level. Forest reserve land on the western boundary appears to extend the length of the garden.
At the heart of the house is a state-of-the-art open-plan kitchen. The owner is happiest when entertaining on a grand scale, and guests are invited to join him at a splendid U-shaped table that surrounds the purpose-designed cooking range. Thus seated, they are able to witness the preparation of their meal and to converse with the ‘chef’. From this vantage point he is also able to survey the entrance to the house, the reception area and the patio of his son’s dwelling across the western water court. The house is keyless and fully biometric, with automated lighting, security, sound and music. A centrally located elevator ensures that the house caters for access for the elderly.
Projecting north from the kitchen is a glass pavilion for informal family dining. From this vantage point there are views down to the water court and back across the garden court to the living area. The living room itself is a high-ceilinged space overlooked on two sides by a broad gallery at second storey. Double-height windows look north to the landscaped court, and at the very centre of the room is a modern, eye-catching chandelier. An open staircase on the south side of the room creates a dramatic vertical link to the upper level where the family room is located.
Located at the western extremity of the site is the semi-independent dwelling of one of the owner’s sons. Physically connected to the main house via the gym, or accessed across a turfed roof garden, privacy is achieved. At the same time, the son is closely linked to his parents and in visual contact. The ancillary dwelling has direct access to the water court and the poolside pavilion. The house skillfully accommodates an extended family. It is a trend that appears to be flourishing in Singapore where land costs are rising all the time, and where bringing a family together on one site makes sound economic sense, in addition to the benefit of strengthening family ties.