A bright, breezy home in Singapore for three generations of a close-knit family
Comprising three rectangular blocks oriented around a central courtyard and 30m-long swimming pool, this house not only accommodates seven family members, but also holds several surprises too.
Faced with an asymmetrical plot of land and a multigenerational household comprising seven members – including elderly grandparents and three young children – the owners of this residence decided to approach RT+Q Architects.
The practice was founded in 2003 by Rene Tan and TK Quek. Over the years, the firm established a reputation for its creative, bold design approach towards detached houses, residential towers, commercial and office complexes, resorts and master planning.
Tan was even named Designer of the Year 2016 at the President’s Design Awards, considered Singapore’s most prestigious design accolade; RT + Q was also a finalist at the World Architecture Awards 2018.
“The main challenges were to design a household that can accommodate seven individuals through a variety of ages, as well as to create a sense of order from an asymmetrical plot of land,” explained Tan. “So we designed the house in a C-shaped manner, with a courtyard in the middle. The form of the house comprises three blocks: A living room block, a dining room block, as well as a bedroom block towards the rear.”
There’s plenty of greenery thanks to a lushly landscaped garden (“in land-scarce Singapore, it’s important to design a house with a garden,” said Tan), as well as a 30m-long swimming pool for the kids, who are good swimmers.
The distinct yet connected blocks provide the perfect mix of private and communal spaces, without scrimping on space and light.
The living room, for example, is spacious enough to accommodate a grand piano, and affords excellent vantage points of the front garden, the courtyard and the swimming pool.
A long walkway on the second level, which the family has fondly nicknamed The Great Corridor, connects the master bedroom suite, the grandparents’ wing, and the children’s rooms.
“More than just a physical connector, it’s also a space where one can actually sit, take a moment, and take in views of the courtyard,” said Tan.
And then there’s the library, a breathtakingly dramatic cylindrical space wrapped around by books. An oculus allows sunlight not just to illuminate into the library, but also the rest of the house across several different levels.
“It was an opportunity for us to actually borrow from the memories of the past… This space is a microcosm of the Pantheon in Rome, in terms of its cylindrical form and how it brings light in”, Tan explained.
Indeed, throughout the house, the creative use of skylights and cantilevered steps help create a bright, breezy feel.
“The openness and the transparency of the spaces amongst the living room, the dining area, and the third block are essential, so that while there are guests here, there is also connectivity and transparency and communication with the other parts of the house,” said Tan, adding that the owners had also requested for a large kitchen as they enjoy entertaining.
“It’s wonderful to see the family using every element, whether through the courtyard, the pool, the gym room. This social space that families can really enjoy, and entertain their guests, or just celebrate their unity and their family bonds,” he said.
The house also hides several unexpected surprises, too – there’s a hidden wine cellar in the kitchen, plus a secret doorway and concealed storage in the library.
“I think the surprise element is important, because it makes the house interesting. I think it has a lot of layers – not just spaces, but a lot of layers of stories to tell and spaces that unfold as you continue to inhabit and discover the house,” he said.
Adapted from the series Remarkable Living. Watch full episodes on CNA, every Sunday at 8.30pm.