The house is built for a client and his family who seeks a communal way of living, but cherishes privacy and security. Being frequent entertainers, the client desired for generous spaces for hosting events of various scales.
Inspired by the Chinese courtyard house, the project seeks to readapt the vernacular typology in a tropical context. Sitting on a 45,000 sq. ft land, 5.0m concrete walls forms a fortified enclosure around the plot, creating a safe environment for the young children to play outdoors without much supervision. Within the compound, the main bulk of the house, where communal living and entertaining occurs, is compacted over a third of the plot size, freeing up a vast expanse of space for a back garden, pool and an annex block which houses the private family bedrooms.
The massing of the main space is a deep square block that is spatially delineated into 9 sub-grids, punctuated with a series of courtyards. The courtyards were an essential strategy for the plan to work in the context of the tropics, as they bring natural light and ventilation to every area of the deep building form. Each courtyard is characterized with a unique autonomy, some housing water ponds and gravelled gardens, whilst others are wholly enclosed with bricked walls as an entertainment room, or screened with sliding glass panels.
Internally, courtyard and bedrooms anchors the main blueprint, while the living spaces clusters around the courtyard as cloisters. Intuitive to the changes of the sun-path, communal activities occur sporadically around the courtyards that receives daylighting.
Not restrained by physical rooms, these communal activities occur organically, imbuing the cloister spaces an infinite permutation of possibilities.
The house exemplifies a re-interpretation of the tropical architecture language, as a cornerstone element of the tropical architecture, the pitch roof, is inverted and expressed as a key architectural ceiling feature in the house. The roof slopes towards the courtyards in a reverse pitch fashion, giving rise to a series of undulating timber ceiling ridges. Comprising of simple architectural elements, the interior palette is intentionally pared down to express the undulating timber ceiling as the main architectural feature. At nightfall, one catches a glimpse of the glow of the light internally, as it washes over the undulating timber ceiling ridges, revealing the intricacy within.
Formwerkz Architects was established in Singapore in 2004 by Alan Tay, Seetoh Kum Loon, Gwen Tan and Berlin Lee. The practice is largely defined and shaped by their common interest in the recovery of mutual human relationships, and the restoration of primordial relationships between man and nature. Projects become vehicles to design happenings or more precisely, the conditions that can espouse more active engagement between man and man with his environment.