Cover Skan House features gardens on each level

Faced with a limited space for a family of five adults, Design Collective Architects created green spaces on each floor instead

A home to accommodate a family of growing children requires particular adjustments but a home that fulfils the requirements of a family with grown-up children has its own set of requirements. This was the scenario with Skan House by Design Collective Associates who was commissioned to design a house a family unit with three adult kids from the ground up.

Set on a piece of land sized at 785 sqm, the designers had to ensure there were enough personal spaces for each family member who had their own schedules and work time.

"The house was to accommodate the needs of each adult member while having common living spaces that allowed the family to bond and come together as a whole," explains lead architect Chan Mun Inn. 




While having enough livable spaces was important, the architects also wanted to ensure that this modern tropical home had sufficient landscaping.

"Plot ratio is a measure of the built-up floor area of a house in comparison to the land size it is built on. A good ratio to achieve for a residential home designed in the tropics is a balanced 0.5 or 50 per cent plot where the built-up areas equal the space provided for open gardens and surrounding landscape. This, however, wasn’t the case, with the site located within a prime residential enclave and the design brief called for a built-up floor space that equalled the plot size," explains Chan.

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The design began with the idea of layering the needs and functions of the house onto the site. The essential brief was to design a home to accommodate five adults, their domestic needs and their personal requirements. This included a parking garage that would have enough space for everyone's cars.

The garden was also an important element that the owners did not wish to compromise. As the land area did not allow for an ideal plot ratio of land to house, the solution was then to plant the garden on the roof.

"Open space and gardens are important components of tropical living as trees and plants filter dust and noise and provide a cooling effect to the surrounding buildings by means of shade and evaporative cooling," muses Chan. "The basic needs for Skan House to accommodate five adults meant that it was impossible to achieve the desired plot ratio of 0.5 on a land size of 785 sqm. To overcome this, the solution was enabling planting on slabs and rooftops to make up for the lack of garden areas within the site."


This simple placement of requirements onto layers created a very stratified section. However, this stratification of functions created a disconnect between the living spaces with the gardens which were located on a different floors; it was neither ideal nor effective.

"The solution was to introduce a splice in the section and shift the functions diagonally. This sectional shift presented an interesting result of stepped gardens and stacked floors," explains Chan. "The recessed floors allow for the garden to occupy the open spaces while the internal spaces open up into these gardens seamlessly with large sliding doors that slide away."


Breathable external facades and walls were incorporated to allow for the living spaces of the house to be naturally ventilated and cooled throughout the day without the need for mechanical cooling.

The living spaces remain naturally ventilated overnight allowing the internal spaces to be cooled down even further for the following day. Additionally, the natural breeze is further cooled as they pass through the lush and thick foliage and water bodies.

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Internal spaces are further insulated from the heat by a 0.5m thick plant soil that covers a large area of the roof slabs. Indeed, the heavy planting works both in providing shade to the floor slab as well as physically insulating the floor slab. 

It's rare that you get to have your cake and eat it too but in the case of Skan House, the architects have managed to achieve both with smart solutions. From the ample private and shared spaces to lush green landscaping on every floor, the end results fulfil the clients' essential needs without sacrificing any of their desires. 


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