Timber Joinery House, Singapore


To pass through the entry hall of this house is to step into the set of some fantastic and exotic film… nothing prepares (you) for the instantaneous drama of ….vertiginous composition of forms and textures projecting out, over and around a lush and precipitous site. It embodies all the principles of architectural pleasure… prospect, refuge, enticement, peril and complex order.

Photography by Patrick Bingham-Hall

While the transition from a discreet public entry to a rich private interior is not uncommon, in the case of the Timber Joinery House it is breath-taking. The street wall has high horizontal slots, offering glimpses of the entry court and the bland concrete-rendered façade of the house, which is interrupted by a double timber-slatted door. This disguises the fact that the house sits on a high ridge, so that on entering the house there is an explosion of space as the C-shaped building opens up with a celebration of influences and materials over three levels (entry is at the top level), looking on to a magical garden below and rooftop gardens above.

(It has been noted that by a renowned architect)…that this house is a celebration of the new, but using traditional elements such as air chimneys to vent the basement, cross-ventilation and skylights ….The extensive use of timber is contrasted against the beautiful exposed lightweight vaulted concrete trusses, which owe more to arched Romanesque buildings than to indigenous Southeast Asian structures.


Although the wrap-around timber verandahs immediately suggest traditional Asian dwellings, they are equally reminiscent of the enclosed verandahs that provide privacy for bedrooms in many other parts of the world. In this case, however, the wooden shutters of the bedroom corridors also provide natural ventilation even when it is raining… they were directly inspired by an old colonial house in Penang (now a hotel called the Cheong Fatt See Mansion).


The C-shaped plan pivots around a glazed lift core screened with timber battens, contributing to an overall filigree effect generated by the rich tapestry of timber elements. This, in turn, contrasts with a varied palette of Indonesian stones. The rooftop gardens are visually connected to the ground level garden and pool by a raised water garden and by a stepped column, which receives water run-off from the roof to become a vertical water feature.


This article was published in the June 2016 issue of Inspire Living Magazine. Download it here!