Home Tour: A Semi-Detached House By Park + Associates With Playful Split-Levels
Located in central Singapore, the facade of House 11 by Park + Associates appears like a cluster of boxes stacked almost like toy blocks. A couple and their two sons live in this corner semi-detached house, which was completed last year. The husband is an orthopaedic surgeon and the wife is the managing director of a scientific solutions company, and given their busy lives, the couple wanted a home that enables them to spend quality time with their young children.
One of their requirements was for the living room to be upstairs. “The owners did not like the idea of having a living room looking out to the car porch, like in most houses, so we created a large arrival space on the first storey and elevated the living room to the second storey,” says Christina Thean, director at Park + Associates and the architect who led this project.
The architecture firm shielded the first-storey spaces with an opaque wall up front, shifting the focus inwards. In the double-storey foyer, a patinated finish gives the entryway an industrial character. The low ceiling of the adjacent hallway brings focus to an arresting photographic print of the stepped interior of the Stuttgart Private Library in Germany.
The owners had spent a long time finding a suitable artwork that could fill the large wall. They also chose it as it relates to the nearby staircase, which rises up the heart of the 4,214sqft semi-detached house, linking the various spaces. The threads and risers zig-zagging upwards are appreciated through glass balustrades. “Its openness allows for spontaneous interactions. For instance, the mother will know when a family member has returned home, or when her sons are sneaking down to the kitchen for a snack,” says the architect.
The bedrooms and common areas are arranged around a lofty atrium abutting the staircase. Together with the split levels, this enables the whole house to flow as one continuous, dynamic space rather than in a typically rigid and stratified manner. “It is like a dialogue of spaces, deviating from the traditional approach of houses organised via storeys, and laid out room after room,” explains Thean.
Public and private zones intersect throughout, enhancing connectivity. The living room perches above the arrival area, overlooked by the study. It has vistas to the dining and dry kitchen, wine room and bedrooms spread across two levels and a mezzanine across the atrium. In the attic is the master bedroom suite, where a spiral staircase tunnels back down to the study.
This interesting arrangement of spaces was enabled by the Urban Redevelopment Authority’s new guidelines, which do not dictate the number and height of levels within a house so long as they keep within the permissible building envelope. “The absence of floor-to-ceiling height restrictions allowed a playful assembly of spaces that are varied and staggered to create interlocking volumes with double- and triple-height spaces. Because of this, we could maximise the floor area and insert a mezzanine bedroom for one of the boys,” says Thean.
The lively organisation of volumes corresponds to the exterior’s stacked expression, which is as functional as it is aesthetically engaging. The rusty-toned paint finish in the foyer is mirrored on the facade and contrasted with roughcast concrete to define the different components. “The facade is responsive to the site with minimal openings on the west facade and larger openings intentionally located on the north-facing side,” says Thean, commenting on climatic considerations.
The house has minimal outdoor spaces as the family prefers airconditioned comfort to the hot and humid weather, but the architect ensures symbiosis with nature in other ways. The dining room looks out to the pool and surrounding landscape, while the rear bedrooms are given large windows to borrow the vista of the neighbouring site’s matured trees.
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The master bedroom allows access to the roof garden, and features a circular shower that mimics the experience of outdoor shower areas in resorts. Most of the furniture in this house was purchased from Space Furniture, featuring various collections by Italian brand Poliform for design unity throughout. The colour schemes visually differentiate the various zones in the house: the children’s bedrooms are clad in serene shades of blue and green, while the master bedroom, as well as the living and dining areas, feature a subdued, neutral palette.
Ultimately, the home’s overall design enhances interaction; a boon for the close-knit family. “It allows each of us to have our private spaces, but as the rooms are only half a level apart, we still feel close to one another,” shares Tan.
They previously stayed in an apartment and are delighted to find that this house allows a similar level of connectivity, despite being a multi-storey structure. The rambling spaces become an indoor playground for their young sons to romp around in and explore. “At the same time, the openness allows the mother to monitor the boys from afar while conducting her own activities,” says Thean.
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The true test came during the circuitbreaker period earlier this year, when the Covid-19 pandemic regulations ensured that they all had to spend ample time at home. “We did not feel cooped up at all,” shares Tan. “The study’s proximity to the children’s rooms made it convenient for me to supervise their home-based learning sessions while I worked.”
The pool was well utilised for daily laps to expend the children’s energy, and she could watch them from various parts of the house. After their sons fall asleep, the couple often enjoy retreating to the wine room to relax after a long day at work.
- PhotographyJasper Yu
- Art DirectionCharlene Lee
- Stylist's AssistantSarah Ng
- Photographer's AssistantTan Ming Yuan