Inside a S$20 million penthouse, with James Dyson as your neighbour
The owners of this four-bedroom penthouse in Wallich Residences will be neighbours with James Dyson, who recently acquired the development’s S$73.8 million, three-storey ’super-penthouse’.
When entering most homes, you’ll usually encounter a foyer with a table or console for keys, snail mail and other odds and ends. If the owner is especially house-proud, you might be greeted by an attractive floral arrangement.
In this apartment, however, designer Lin Weizhang created a cosy sitting area – a mini-lounge, if you will – that’s the design equivalent of a warm, welcome-home hug. The principal of Superfat Designs refers to this space as the vestibule, saying that it is as much a calming rest-stop as it is a counterpoint to the urban environment.
“When you first enter the building, it’s a very large, voluminous space. As with all large developments, it doesn’t feel very private. So when you come into this apartment, we immediately wanted to address that, the feeling of coldness. We wanted to bring in warmth.
“The vestibule is designed [to be] an area that holds you for a bit before releasing you into the rest of the space. The vestibule is meant to calm you down, set the mood, and set the tone for your understanding of this space,” Lin explained.
A necessary device, considering the expanse of the four-bedroom, 3,509 sq. ft. (326 sqm) dwelling on the 59th level. It’s one of only four such units in Wallich Residences, a GuocoLand development housed in Guoco Tower – Singapore's tallest building at 290m. The views from this lofty perch are incredible, as you might imagine: the entire swathe of the Greater Southern Waterfront, encompassing the CBD, Keppel Harbour, Sentosa and the Singapore Strait.
Drawing attention to the panorama, therefore, became one of two major starting points that informed Lin’s design; the other being the connection to nature that he sought to infuse throughout.
“When we first looked at this space, we realised that we could either compete with, or complement, this building. In this skyscraper of glass and steel, we wanted to insert a form that was a little bit more natural, so we chose a lot of natural materials like marble, timber etc.” In particular, “We wanted the dark timbers to be a canvas for the views that you’re buying this apartment for.”
The dark timber wall panelling, which spans the length of the living room, performs double duty in this context. Not only does it serve to direct the eyes towards the vista, but it also imbues the living area with natural warmth.
The furniture, too – low-slung and elegantly proportioned – pays deference to the views. “We wanted to have the furniture touch the ground really gently, almost like ballerinas on tip-toes… [so as] to preserve the views out into the [Singapore] Strait. Nothing really distracts your view as you’re walking through the space.
“The same theory applies in the dining area as well. We created a 10-seater table. We didn’t want it to be imposing, the focus of the entire space. That’s why we chose this table from Molteni&C, which is somewhat translucent. It gives that lightness, so it doesn’t block your view.”
Lin’s favourite roost, however, isn’t the grand living or dining area, but the breakfast nook at the far end of the apartment. Mostly because it provides a 270-degree view of the city skyline and Singapore Strait. Lin says he can picture himself relaxing here with a cup of coffee while catching up on the day’s news.
As a secondary dining area, it complements the adjacent bedroom; the entire far end of the apartment can be considered as a self-contained annex. “It’s somewhere you could have your guests over, or use as a granny flat. Or you could have adult children staying in this space, who don’t really want interaction all the time,” explained Lin.
The designer’s impulse to address privacy is a common thread throughout the dwelling. In the master bedroom, he thoughtfully designed a bedhead that bends 90º at the edges, creating a wraparound effect. Elsewhere in the suite, he kept things simple. “For us it’s about creating an elegant simplicity. Nothing too complicated, nothing too extravagant. Nothing that takes away from the primary function of this space, which is rest.”
In another bedroom, the vestibule reprises its role. “You walk in through a little alcove, which kind of sets the ‘service area’ – which is your changing area, your wardrobe, your dressing area – apart from your [sleeping area]. It gives you added privacy. It’s about giving time for people to take in the space.”
Layering devices such as alcoves are crucial in helping to ‘break down’ large, sweeping expanses, as well as create intrigue.
Back at the foyer, you’ll notice a timber screen to your right as you exit the private lift. Behind the screen, Lin placed a console table with a bonsai sculpture atop it. That, he said, “draws the eye beyond the space. It gives you perspective of how large this space is, and how much more there is to explore. So, a sense of anticipation”.