Cover The living area of the showflat in Marina One Residences

Edmund Ng Architects crafted a stunning show apartment with hotel-inspired interiors and a thoughtful curation of artworks

Step into this cavernous penthouse perched atop Marina One Residences, a mixed-use development located in Singapore’s Central Business District, and it’s easy to envision a modern-day Jay Gatsby—the glamorous protagonist of the literary classic The Great Gatsby—holding court against a backdrop of skyscrapers.

The architect responsible for conjuring such an image is Edmund Ng, who was briefed by the developers of Marina One to create a showroom that is “modern, contemporary and very luxurious”. According to him, the clients’ profile would be a well-travelled and cosmopolitan couple or a family with a refined taste for the finer things in life.

“The original state of the penthouse was completely bare. Other than having a big space, there were no bells and whistles. Selling properties without the finishes is like selling empty boxes of space, and it will be quite hard for a high-end purchaser to visualise its potential,” explains Ng. 

This creates an experiential viewing of the four-bedroom unit occupying the 33rd and 34th floors. The tour starts from the foyer, where one is greeted by a dramatic crystal chandelier and an ornate floral arrangement spilling across a dark wood table. “It’s almost like walking into a grand hotel,” says the architect.

The penthouse is split into two large wings—a private corner for the bedrooms, and various public areas for socialising. Located at the far end of the living area is an open-concept dry kitchen as well as an ebony marble-top dining table that seats a party of 10. The dark brown and white palette allows for more extravagant details to shine through—above the dining table hangs a chandelier with fine strands of beads cascading downwards.

Back at the foyer, Ng included a stately grand piano. At the rooftop, a sleek, Manhattan-inspired bar overlooks the swimming pool. Decked in dark chocolate and gold, it's a retreat befitting of Jay Gatsby—one could imagine him soaking in the views of the skyline while savouring a fine cigar on the buttery leather couch.

In contrast to the main living area and entertainment enclaves, the bedrooms are understated spaces designed to invite a comfortable and cosy atmosphere. At the master bedroom, a stack of metal suitcases catches the eye upon entering. 

See also: How to Make a Great First Impression in Your Home With an Art Collection

The generosity of space presented a chance to showcase numerous artworks from Ode To Art, a local art gallery owned by Jazz Chong, who is also Ng’s wife. “We had numerous fittings of the artworks to find pieces that would complement the spaces,” says Ng.

He adds: “As the developer had given us free rein over the design process, we were able to select contemporary pieces that all speak the same language as the interiors. My personal favourite is an abstract mixed-medium painting by French artist Harmen located at the entrance foyer. It looks almost like a 3D sculpture.” The work in question is a striking orange piece constructed with plaster, resin and acrylic and inspired by the “purity of form”, says the architect. 

Visitors who linger at the foyer will also find it hard to ignore an intriguing collage of crushed hundred-dollar bills displayed on the opposite wall. The Paul Russo masterpiece is a signature of the artist, who works with multiple mediums to achieve a three-dimensional effect to his pop art-inspired creations.

Another stunning piece is an Impressionist-style work that sits quietly next to the grand piano. The oil painting is by Chinese artist Liu Zheng Hong, who combines both Western and Chinese influences in his work.

The interiors, furnishings and artworks may seem to come together effortlessly, but the design and construction process was anything but easy. The project had to be stopped midway during the Covid-19 lockdown, and the logistics of delivering the customised furniture was affected. “It was a nightmare, but the client understood and sympathised with the situation. We had to replace certain pieces of furniture that could not be produced in time,” recalls Ng. 

The affable architect is pleased with the final result. “There was a slight change from the original intent, but overall, any changes were made for improvement instead of a compromise. Whenever we see anything lacking, it’s a chance to improve the work to make it even better,” he says.