Cover An artist's impression of the exterior facade and landscaping of Kai Suites

Dubbed as Singapore’s first luxury confinement centre, Kai Suites takes the stress out of the initial period after childbirth so mothers can return home fully recharged. K2LD Architects explain more about its design influences

As a mother of two, I understand the fatigue and frustration that comes with looking after a newborn baby immediately after returning from hospital. For my first child, I hired a confinement nanny whose constant nagging at my rejection of traditional practices provided more stress than relief.  
Throw in the mix breastfeeding struggles, constant tracking of the infant’s feeding and confusion at whether I was doing things right—never mind that I had all those kilos to shed. Those photos of well-groomed mothers snuggling peacefully with their newborn children seemed like a mirage. 

Touring Singapore’s first luxury confinement centre, I understand how this could be an increasingly attractive alternative to relying on the grandparents or confinement nannies to help look after the babies while new mothers recover.   

Here, we find out more about the design intent behind Kai Suites from K2LD Architects.

A Zen Impression

Located at Dunearn Road, Kai Suites exudes calm from the onset. A wispy bamboo grove at the driveway precedes the low-rise, redbrick building built in 1968 for the Singapore Planning and Population Board. It is not a conservation structure but the decision to restore it to its original charming state suites the centre’s ethos. 

“The design concept showcases the inherent beauty of the materials and come together to (evoke a sense of) luxury,” says Leong Lai Ping, an associate at K2LD Architects who highlights the brass accents and curvilinear motifs that were inspired by Kai Suites’ logo.

On the first storey, the lounge and dining room are filled with natural light from an internal courtyard. Screens mimic a ryokan atmosphere and terrazzo floors complement the humble architecture. Guests can meet mothers and babies here as the suites are reserved for rest. 

Sense of Place

This adaptive reuse project gives a new life to a building originally completed in 1968. “Located at a corner of Dunearn and Gilstead Road, the existing building had the distinctive styles of Singapore modern architecture,” shares Leong. “Even though this building was not officially gazetted as a conservation site in Urban Redevelopment Authority’s (URA) master plan, it was a concerted effort by URA, the client and architect to preserve the elements reminiscent of the original design characteristics of the building. 
Some elements such as the original pyramid roofs and the red brick on the external façade of the building had already been removed during previous renovations; as it was left vacant for years, the interior finishes were also badly damaged and had to be restored or replaced entirely.  

“Our strategy involved crafting a memorable entrance through landscaping, highlighting the existing design features, providing a relaxing and tranquil experience and incorporating as much light and curvilinear forms as possible into the spaces,” elaborates Leong. “We washed and made good of the existing exposed red brick walls within the interior spaces. The terrazzo flooring used is similar to the original floor material, complemented with a light oak laminate. Bronze metal accents are also incorporated within the interior spaces.” 

The Suite Life

On the second and third storeys are 18 suites—the standard Deluxe and the larger Premium, which is ideal if fathers wish to stay the night. Mothers enjoy 600-thread count Egyptian cotton, bed linen, a pillow menu and a 65-inch LCD TV with Netflix and YouTube. Velvet upholstered furnishings and brass accents contribute to its stylish look. 
“The facility is designed like a home: it has bedrooms, a generous living room to host guests as well as a dining room to make dining like in a comfort of a home,” says Leong.

Additionally, the in-house culinary team has created a menu that includes recipes contributed by chef-owners of Michelin-starred restaurants. Only natural ingredients are used, with even the oyster sauce and chicken essence made from scratch; the dishes also combines Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practices with dietary science to prepare nutritious meals for the mums. Tailoring meals to each mother’s recovery status is a far cry from the one-size-fits-all at-home care.

To soothe and pamper

The aesthetics clinic and spa feature understated grey wallcoverings accompanied with black metal trimmings to showcase the curved walls. The nursery uses a Japanese shirasu interior wall plaster product made using volcanic soil; it purifies the indoor air, creating a comfortable environment for the babies. 

Experienced maternity ward nurses give breastfeeding advice, track baby’s feed and watch them 24-7, leaving mothers time for rest, Jamu wraps at Kai Spa and treatments at Kai Aesthetics such as facials and body contouring.

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