Home Tour: An Eco-Conscious House In Singapore With A Stunning Spiral Staircase
If a house has glitz and glamour, but lacks warmth and is not livable, what is its value? This Singapore home is a fine example of melding style and substance, and is a reminder of what good living is all about. The owners, Tay Yi Chung and Miriam Yeung, worked in Shanghai for twelve years before moving to Singapore in 2019 for their two daughters to attend school here.
Tay works in digital advertising while Yeung was formerly in strategy consulting and marketing. She decided to look after her children full-time and now runs a blog on sustainable living. Music is also a big part of the family’s life—Yeung is a jazz singer and Tay regularly plays the classics by Chopin and Mozart at home.
For their dream abode, the couple sent Diego Molina and Maria Arango, directors of Ong&Ong, a thick brief of their requirements, describing the key elements as well as the finer details they wanted in their family home.
At the exterior, robust concrete walls frame panels of timber screens. “The solid teak helps to soften the facade and warms the house. It also differentiates the public and private areas,” says Molina. For instance, a slatted timber ceiling on the second storey stretches from the interior to the balcony and upwards to envelop the bedroom windows of the third storey and attic.
The solid teak helps to soften the facade and warms the house. It also differentiates the public and private areas.— Diego Molina, director of Ong&Ong
The first storey is elevated, in accordance with flood control regulations in the area. This gives lightness to the massing. Sliding glass doors ease the flow between the interior and exterior zones. On the first storey, the open-plan living and dining areas, and the dry kitchen are directed toward a spiral staircase in the rear. The garden is lined with a mix of local and foreign species like pandan and Buddhist pine.
A lot of thought was given to the kitchen as Yeung bakes often and Tay is also an avid cook. The dry kitchen is his domain for whipping up delicious meals while mingling with guests. The grand piano, placed at the heart of the space, is used as much as the other pieces of furniture, some of which were shipped over from their Shanghai home. There are also artworks that have followed the couple through five different residences.
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On the second storey is a lounge that doubles up as a whiskey den. It also serves as a media room for the family to watch movies or play video games. Beanbags and chairs with relaxed profiles make it comfortable for lingering. Sliding panels enable the entire second storey to be closed off as a guest room for visiting family members. The space looks out to a generous balcony that cantilevers over the car porch, with deep eaves that keep out the rain and sun. Leather, copper and chrome accents throughout the house complement the timber tones.
“During the circuit breaker period last year, we were lucky to have this outdoor patio where we could sit outdoors and work in the shaded area,” says Yeung. “My children also love to put their soft mats there to practice their gymnastics and play or do their art at the table. We have outdoor speakers and nice lights so the four of us sometimes lie on the mats, and enjoy the night sky and music.”
Pastel tones on the furnishings bring a cheerful touch to this daughter’s bedroom
The third storey houses the music room, as well as a study and the daughters’ bedrooms
The more private third storey caters to the routines of work, school life, and the family’s cultural pursuits. The daughters’ bedrooms occupy each end; in the centre is a music room and homework area. Yeung, who enjoys jamming and is learning jazz guitar, records herself singing here to share online. When concentration is needed during work, the couple can enclose the study area with sliding doors.
Our home serves our practical needs and helps us enjoy a life connected to nature.— Homeowner Miriam Yeung
At the attic, a balcony and Zen garden inlaid with pebbles for acupressure border the master bedroom. Nature is important to the family, who aspire to live sustainably. “In our brief, we asked for lots of outdoor spaces, abundant natural light and air flow to reduce energy consumption—even in the bathrooms. We also wanted a small gardening area near the wet kitchen for me to do my composting and turn kitchen scraps into fertile topsoil, as well as solar panels that now service up to 25 per cent of our home’s energy consumption,” says Yeung.
The spiral staircase itself is nature abstracted. The top-down view is akin to looking into the coils of a seashell. Yeung had requested for one, enamoured by that in Spanish architect Antoni Gaudi’s La Sagrada Familia. It also maximises the use of space in the narrow plan. The couple’s dedication to eco-living extends to not owning a car. Instead, they use their bicycles for errands and plan to buy an electric car when charging stations become more common in Singapore.
“Our home serves our practical needs and helps us enjoy a life connected to nature. even though we live in the city centre,” smiles Yeung. “This is a kind of luxury that isn’t materialistic, but still provides much satisfaction.”
- Art DirectionCharlene Lee
- Photographer's AssistantEvan Kong
- Stylist's AssistantCheryl Lai-Lim