Cover The open-plan first storey that engages with nature, while being conducive to entertaining

Ming Architects designed the Cove House in Singapore to have a harmonious relationship with its site and surrounding elements

For many years, an old, dilapidated house sat on this plot of land. This corner unit was unattractive to many buyers, as it’s located next to an arterial road that leads to an expressway. But the current owners, who work in the healthcare industry, saw potential in the semi-detached property, which also features lush greenery on one side that screens the view of the road.

The name of this 4,036sqft abode, “Cove House” stems from the owners’ desire to create a place of respite as well as the plot’s sheltered feel, created by the elevated road’s tall concrete wall, which separates the house from the highway. The abundant foliage merges with the pool to compose a visually soothing tableau.

The owners enlisted Tan Cher Ming, founder of Ming Architects, to work through the challenges of the site and create a peaceful home for them and their young daughter. “The brief was straightforward. They wanted a wide frontage, parking space for three cars, an interior with a high ceiling, a clear view of the pool from the living room, and a large gym in the attic,” says Tan.

The overall building form reflects a raw yet refined construction, supplemented by natural elements.
Tan Cher Ming, founder of Ming Architects

He responded with an open-plan first storey that engages with nature, while being conducive to entertaining. Behind the living area is a customised dining table with a lazy Susan. Its circular form juxtaposes with the long kitchen island, above which hangs an array of modern pendant lights.

“The 3.5m ceiling height further accentuates the spaciousness of this area, together with large, carefully positioned full-height sliding glass panels that let ample daylight into the space,” says Tan.

In the morning, sunlight shines on the turquoise tiles in the pool, reflecting sequin-like patterns onto the walls and kitchen counter as if reminding the family of the water’s presence. Bare concrete walls alternate with the full-length glass doors to frame the views and block out noise from the highway. From the master bedroom, a balcony protrudes over the pool, encouraging an amble out to appreciate nature.

This element is accompanied by another arresting feature—the spiral staircase that sits at the intersection of the dining room and pool. Its curves cut through the transparent glass walls, hovering over the pool and drawing the eye outdoors and upwards. “The sculptural spiral staircase is meticulously inserted between the concrete walls as the main vertical circulatory element. It protrudes from the building not just as a design feature—it also maximises space for the family room on the second storey,” Tan explains. “It’s designed for the occupants to feel as if they are traversing outdoors and being very close to the greenery and water as they enter this circulation space.”

A steel trellis with custom glass inserts encloses the staircase, strengthening the structure while doubling as a screen. The pattern throws enchanting shadows inwards under strong sunlight to liven up the streamlined surfaces.

Indoors, Carrara marble floors continue the minimal palette, while oak timber panels conceal the room doors and echo the natural elements of the landscaping. “The over-all building form reflects a raw yet refined construction, supplemented by nature,” Tan explains.

Upstairs, some interior walls are painted while other concrete walls are intentionally left unfinished. An example is the master bedroom and ensuite bathroom, where the light concrete tones contrast with the dark marble. In the attic gym, where the husband spends time working out, the concrete wall alternates with glass panels to evoke a strong, masculine feel.

Throughout the home, Tan designed the joinery to sport a similar monolithic quality. Yet within this simplicity, rich textures abound. Running one’s hand over the surface of the kitchen island, one feels the subtle unevenness of the leathered Pietra Grey marble. In the powder room, the same marble is smoothened into a standalone washbasin and encased in vertically striped solid oak panels.

In order to retain the view of the greenery, Tan created a half-height console in the master bedroom. Here, Pietra Grey marble merges with slender electroplated stainless steel shelves and a Fenix finish. “While the joinery evokes a monolithic quality, it is designed to complement the house’s architectural language,” says Tan.

The owners, who have uncomplicated tastes, definitely appreciate the house’s design; the project took two years to complete. “They enjoy the connection between the indoor and outdoor spaces, but most importantly, the off-form concrete—together with the thicker glazing—works effectively to resolve their concerns about the harsh traffic noise,” shares Tan, looking at his work with pride.

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