Home Tour: This Nature-Inspired Abode Brings The Outdoors In
A luxuriant garden is not only beautiful to look at; it can also conjure up a sense of calm, especially in Singapore’s concrete jungle. This is especially important for homes, in which residents seek comfort and calm while spending time with their loved ones.
Designed by Foma Architects, this 9,838sqft corner terrace house in the western part of Singapore embodies this verdant concept. “Being horticulture enthusiasts, the owners requested to have a house with spaces that cater to religious and social gatherings, as well as gardening,” says Tan Chun Hao, principal of Foma Architects, who established the firm in 2012 with his partner Terence Tan. “Therefore, we amalgamated both quality living spaces and greenery all around the house.”
From the main gate, the structure is seen as a monolithic block that peels a little from its wall partition, bringing natural light into the deep plan. The property employs different ways of addressing its east-west facing direction. The screens protect the interiors from extreme heat and glare, and the hermetic, marble-clad wall insulates heat.
The architect made the front of this abode opaque in order to slowly reveal its various spaces. “The entrance of the house is designed as a solid frontage clad in black granite in a natural split finish. The intention is to create a little surprise after one has entered the main door, to see the central garden,” says Tan.
Glassed walls and balconies enable the garden in the courtyard to be visible from every part of the house. It lets the family—a couple and their three grown sons, one of whom is married with a child—feel like they are living in a resort. Tan also ensured that many of the fullheight windows are operable to capture the prevailing north-south winds.
“On the higher floors, planter boxes filled with a variety of plants surround the entire extent of the balcony with hanging greenery and climbers on the railing, forming a continuous layer of landscaping that surrounds the bedrooms. The lush foliage heightens the sensation of being immersed in nature and shields the occupants from the prying eyes of passers-by,” explains Tan.
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The layout of the home traces the topography of the land, which slopes lower at the rear, enhancing this meandering effect through natural terrain. The ground floor, being more public, hosts activities for visitors. The entrance door opens into a prayer hall, and a short flight of steps leads to an entertainment area behind. Both of these spaces are enveloped in greenery.
Taking advantage of the terrain, Tan installed a small waterfall that runs from the direction of the prayer hall to the entertainment space. The sound of moving water is conducive to both spiritual solitude and convivial gatherings. Tan selected a transparent shell for the lift shaft, which faces the garden, so the occupants can appreciate the landscape even when transitioning between floors.
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The first storey contains the living room, dining area and kitchen. The second storey overlooks this doublevolume space and the garden beyond; a more intimate family room is also located here, amplifying the choice of gathering areas that are still interconnected.
“This living and dining area was created as a space for the family to gather and host close friends and relatives. We wanted it to be grand, bright and at the same time, relaxing,” says Tan. The external vertical louvres afford privacy.
The third storey houses bedrooms for the three sons. A balcony connects the bedrooms of the younger sons, while the eldest son and his wife reside in the other wing, which is connected via a bridge. Crossing it lets the family appreciate the courtyard garden from an aerial view. The master bedroom and a spacious study take up the whole attic. The bedroom enjoys a garden along its entire length, which culminates in an intimate plot of green for private contemplation in nature.
The house’s earthy palette is cohesive with its garden concept. “The front and rear facades are clad in travertine because it is a good heat insulator and is able to withstand the harsh tropical climate,” Tan explains. “Chengal wood is used for all outdoor decking and wall cladding for its sturdiness, durability and resistance against termites.”
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Inside the house, Daino Reale marble adorns the living and dining area floor. American white oak timber lends a tactile feel underfoot in the bedrooms and upper level corridors. The first-storey toilets employ homogeneous tiles for easy maintenance. “We believe that good architecture and interior design are achieved by striking a balance between man, nature and their respective environments,” says Tan. This project, which took 15 months to complete, certainly reflects that philosophy.
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