From a concrete wonder in Malaysia to a curvaceous house with elements inspired by the stiletto shoe, Tatler Homes team highlights some of the most architecturally striking houses that we have featured

If you’re planning to build a house from ground up, the creative opportunities that it affords you can be almost endless. For these architects, it certainly has been a dream come true to realise some of these distinctive houses for their clients; even in some situations where architects have to work around an existing structure, the result can prove to be spectacular.

Here, we look back at some of the most architecturally remarkable homes that we have featured.

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1. House 11 in Singapore by Park + Associates

Dubbed simply as House 11, the functional moniker is in striking contrast to its eye-catching facade that appears like a stack of toy blocks. The work of Singapore-based firm Park + Associates, this semi-detached house is designed to promote family bonding. “It is like a dialogue of spaces, deviating from the traditional approach of houses organised via storeys, and laid out room after room,” explains Christina Thean, director at Park + Associates and the architect who led this project.

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The bedrooms and common areas are arranged around a lofty atrium and paired with split levels with numerous nooks and spaces where the couple’s young children enjoy playing hide-and-seek. An opaque wall finished in a patinated-effect paint adds a rugged touch to the facade, paired with full-length glass windows. The living room is placed on the second floor, perching above the arrival area and overlooked by the study. It has views of the vistas to the dining and dry kitchen, wine room and bedrooms spread across two levels, along with a mezzanine across the atrium. 

2. Bewboc House in Kuala Lumpur by Fabian Tan Architect

The caves in Sarawak’s Mulu National Park inspired the unusual concrete form of this home in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The work of Fabian Tan Architect, this house notably features an arched pavilion and asymmetric boundary lines, while combining a striking use of concrete, various curved surfaces and a pared-back colour palette.

In case you missed it: Home Tour: A Terrace House With A Tunnel-Shaped Pavilion In Kuala Lumpur

Although the owners asked for minimal alterations made to the original space, they did not have a specific design in mind; the architect relished the open brief to propose the distinctive tunnel-shaped structure installed at the front of the house that has become its most distinctive feature. It houses a cosy living area that improves the flow of natural light and ventilation and is connected to other parts of the home.

“I wanted to make the shape of the pavilion seem like a continuous space, something along the lines of when you're inside a cave—you see the rock formations on the wall, and it goes up the ceiling, comes down the ceiling, and then down to the floor,” says Tan, the founder of his namesake practice. “Similarly, it became one continuous space because you couldn't tell where the wall ends and where the ceiling starts.”

3. Stiletto House in Singapore by EHKA Architects

Named after the trumpet-shaped columns—which also resemble the slim heel of the stiletto—the Stiletto House designed by EHKA Architects is certainly like no other building in the East Coast neighbourhood in Singapore. The owner’s passion for mid-century design and curvaceous furnishings inspired the sculptural look of this house, which was featured as the cover story of the August 2020 issue of Tatler Homes Singapore.

“Curves create a flow, resolve awkward angles and connect spaces and forms; we find curves very useful and appealing as a design element,” says Hsu Hsia Pin, who heads the architectural firm with his wife Eunice Khoo. “Not all clients are willing to explore this free-flowing design language and the owner was very brave to take that risk with us.”

“I am fascinated by curves. I told the architects I wanted undulating walls,” affirms Robin Yeo, a retired businessman and the owner of this home. His love of curves is omnipresent; other remarkable elements in the house include a staircase that twirls vertically through the house, sending natural light into the basement.

Read more: Home Tour: The Stiletto House In Singapore Is All About The Curves

4. Cloister House in Johor by Formwerkz Architects

Named as Design of the Year at Singapore’s President*s Design Award 2020, this striking home designed by Formwerkz Architects in Johor was also featured in the June 2019 issue of Tatler Homes Singapore, and named as the winner of the Best Architectural Concept category at the Tatler Homes Design Awards 2020

Dubbed the Cloister House, this single-storey dwelling sits on a generous 43,000 sqft plot and was created as a spacious sanctuary for the family to entertain guests and enjoy time in the sun together; its most striking feature is the origami-like ceiling clad in Merbau timber that spans throughout the main block of the house. The house also features myriad courtyards and rooms that blur the boundaries between the indoors and out, offering the family numerous areas where they can gather or spend some quiet time alone in their rooms.

Read more: President*s Design Award 2020: 11 Recipients And Projects To Know

5. A musically-influenced house in Makati by Carlo Calma

Inspired by the owners’ love for music, this contemporary family home by Filipino architect Carlo Calma in Makati city in the Philippines is a play on cosiness and dynamism. The high ceilings and open-plan layout creates a sense of loftiness associated with many of Calma’s projects. The front door handle is inspired by a famous Fender guitar as a nod to the homeowners’ love for music; this theme carries on throughout the house, evident in the trumpet-like chandeliers and other elements throughout the abode.

Read more: Home Tour: This Carlo Calma Design In Makati City Is A Contemporary Masterpiece

“If it had a musical tempo, it would be an allegro,” says Calma. “The zigzagging lines that intersect in and around the house—specifically the staircase—have a brisk and lively quality to them. The layering of different materials such as teak wood, rose champagne metal, and oak veneers creates a symphony of floating lines that functions as railings, steps, and shelves for books and plants. It’s a habitable staircase rather than one that allows the owners to transition from one level to another. These layers are multi-purpose, as they double as areas for lounging and playing. The house is an orchestrated series of spaces with areas of silence, expansion, and sudden tempo disruptions, causing these fluid lines to blur the boundaries of wall, floor, and ceiling.”

Quite unusually, the predominant material used for the house were galvanised sheets—or, in Filipino, yero—which are often seen in slum areas and shanty towns. “We wanted to highlight an ‘everyday’ way of living and give the house a bit of a cultural identity, hence the use of a material that is inexpensive and common in the country,” says the architect.  

6. An award-winning house in Janda Baik by MJ Kanny Architect

In Malaysia’s sleepy town of Janda Baik rests a pair of distinctive buildings, designed as a couple’s weekend getaway; and why not, when you can swap the busy streets of Kuala Lumpur for the tranquil atmosphere of the green hills. 

Read more: Home Tour: A Pair Of Houses in Janda Baik, Malaysia, Designed to Work With Hilly Terrain

Designed by Melvyn Kanny of MJ Kanny Architect, this pair of houses work with the hilly terrain rather than against it, on two plots of land measuring one acre each. The first house is designed as a retirement home while the other is intended for their children’s use, paired with sustainable priniciples; one of the houses was also submitted for the Pertubuhan Arkitek Malaysia's (PAM) competition and took home PAM’s Gold Award in the Single Residential Category in 2018. The unique roof form of the houses not only give them their distinctive look; they’re also designed to reduce the brunt of the western and eastern direct sun. 

Raw concrete and natural brick walls and plastered walls with unpainted finishes became the natural choice for the project’s eco-conscious approach, and paired with light stone and timber to add a cosy touch to the rugged unfinished look of its architectural elements. “I think the final outcome was a delicate balance. The principal has always been to use local natural materials as possible. Even the natural un-plastered brickwork was selected from a nearby factory. Bamboo that was cut on-site was reused as outdoor lamp posts and even as a shower stand in the master bathroom,” explains Kanny.

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