Wall House

Serangoon Gardens
Residential: Completed 2014

The project starts off with an interest in having a swimming pool in a semi-detached house in Singapore. A luxury to have in landed houses, a swimming pool for families with young children and elderly also mean that fun, therapy and safety provide opportunities to be re-consider architecture.

In addition, we wanted to make efficient also a regular residence structure by strategically combining all the structure intensive elements together. We combined the mundane concrete structural tank foundation of the pool, the 2-storey stair structure and the house supports into an architecturally expressive poolside feature wall. The poolside concrete wall carries and is penetrated by, a glass enclosed staircase that then hovers and floats over the swimming pool, thereby also re-addressing the usually neglected store space under staircase. The hanging volumes of space and stair over a pool and open space also introduces natural light and ventilation into the usually stuffy stair.

Backing the swimming pool, yet creating a sense of enclosure and shelter, the relationship of the pool vis-a-vis the house and their thresholds are defined but also made ambiguous by this concrete wall. Seen as an interior (since it is under shelter and indented within the spatial layout of the living spaces) but also as an exterior (since the stairs punctures through this wall and hovers over the pool), the wall creates a strong C-shaped domain of interest that commands the side elevation facade.

The rest of the house are clad, starting from the roof, in unglazed matt grey roofing tiles on an incline, then wrapped down on the walls. This 2nd and attic private rooms are defined in mass that floats off the 1st storey primarily glass enclosure visually and physically, and this mass concentrates its structural load onto a point along the concrete wall, such that it forms a point contact with columns from the front elevation. This emphasises the lightness of the architectural mass as seen identical from the front and rear and sets up an interesting dialogue of difference when seen from the side elevation. The external roof and wall cladding also provides ease of maintenance (no future painting required) and insulation from sun.

Photos by Tan Hai Han