In increasingly urbanised and dense Singapore, low-rise dwellings have become increasingly introverted. Open House attempts to connect with its context by blurring boundaries, extending the lush surrounding exteriors into its interiors within a narrow strip of land. Home to the couple, their six-year-old boy, two grannies and a diversity of pets and plants, the plot faces West and back-faces an open land dense with foliage, which attracts a myriad of birds every day. Beyond the timber door at the entrance is a courtyard where the 10m-tall Memphat tree provides filtered light from the glass roof. The long 'base' on the first storey comprises the living, dining and kitchen. A 13m-long lap pool on the second storey has 'skylights' built into the floor to allow daylight into the kitchen below. Bedrooms are arranged in a stack of 3 stories above. The house is extremely open in front as it is shielded by a black ash wood and metal screen of varying porosity. High porosity above the pool enables winds to move through various levels and cool down the spaces. The house is extremely open from the front as it is only shielded by a black ash wood and metal screen of varying porosity above the car porch roof planter. The most porous part of the screen is the lowest part which is just above the pool water level. This enables winds to go right into the house and as it moves over the water body through to the various levels and out to the back or out through the ventilated glass roof over the central atrium, the spaces get cooled down significantly. The staircase stack is designed with open treads to facilitate effective cross ventilation into the rooms at all levels as that axis allows a straight view out to the back via the rooms and corridors. The rear façade of the house is about maximizing views so every level is wall-to-wall openable glass panels that have overhangs of different extents to provide weather protection when opting for natural ventilation during downpours. As the top floor gets the most morning sun, it has the deepest overhang from an extendable awning. The eave overhang reduces closer to the ground as shading for those levels is provided by the trees Due to the couple's busy work schedules, there is an eagerness to see and hear everyone at home on the weekends. The day-lit atriums between party walls acts as amplifier of sounds where one can easily talk across the floors or hear what is going on around. The pool is visually connected to all levels. Changes of the sky are felt from within the atrium. The sound and smell of rain hitting the road comes right in. The heightened sense of light, sound, smell and sight is refreshing. This openness brings connectivity and aims to relive the “kampong spirit”, something the family likes to build on.
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.