The homeowners’ love for koi was part of the inspiration behind the continuous semicircular form of the house. A similar-shaped koi pond wraps around the perimeter of the house, making it appear as if it is ﬂoating on water.
of mild steel
the levels from
the ground up:
to private to
WHO LIVES HERE
A couple in their 60s
HOME A semi-detached house in Moreton Close
SIZE Land area 4,200sqf Built-up area 6,800sqf
The homeowners had lived in the former property for decades and that single-storey house required extensive maintenance, due to age. It was relatively small, had a dated cottage style, and did not relate to the site configuration at all. Those reasons prompted the couple to demolish the old house and rebuild.
When architect Lim Ai Tiong of LATO Architects/Design was presented with the triangulated site with a narrow frontage, he proposed a bold, semi-circular form that would “make sense for the site”. By creating a half-moon plan abutting the party wall, he achieved a pure geometry that circumvents the potentially awkward angles typical of triangular plots.
This may be his first time designing a semi-circular house, but “the homeowners liked the half-moon form right from the start and did not express any apprehension at all”. He adds: “They specifically liked the shape of the house, as well as the koi pond that sweeps around the arc, giving the house a floating appearance.”
Nevertheless, an interesting form does not negate the need for practical considerations and programmatic requirements. To maximise the efficiency of the plan, Ai Tiong lined up the more enclosed and rectilinear rooms along the party wall facing the concave part of the curve, while keeping the spaces and furniture arrangement along the curve more fluid and open. The curved wing houses the living and dining rooms, dry and wet kitchens on the first storey, and the master suite comprising the bedroom, bathroom, walk-in wardrobe and study on the second storey. Given their bigger footprint, it is more logical to place these larger and more important spaces within this wing, which also allows views out. Secondary areas such as the family room, powder room, maid’s room, laundry area and guest suites are housed in the rectangular wing, adjacent to the party wall.
room housed in
the glass attic.
THE CONTRAST BETWEEN THE CURVILINEAR AND RECTILINEAR FORMS CREATES A MEANINGFUL DIALOGUE.
The contrast between the curvilinear and rectilinear forms creates a meaningful dialogue that ties the whole scheme together, but what occupies the space between the two is equally important. A long corridor separates the wings, with doors at either end to facilitate natural crossventilation. With an incidental space such as that, there is always the danger that it would become a “leftover”, a remnant area, but Ai Tiong recognised the potential in the realm. He articulated it by inserting a statement piece, in the form of a dramatic curved staircase.
Unlike the lower two storeys, the attic is a simple rectangular box. “Initially, I thought that I would top off the massing with a third semi circular form, but, surprisingly, after close to 10 study models on the form and composition of the house, I decided that a rectangular volume sitting right up against the party wall seems to complete and balance the whole composition best,” Ai Tiong explains.
Working with a nonrectilinear plan entailed getting the right proportion between the curves and the straights, working out the sizes and angles, and resolving and detailing the junctions where the two meet. But at the end of the day, no matter what, “if you compare a square or rectangular space with a curved one, of course the former is more efficient,” Ai Tiong points out.
“However, when almost everything in Singapore revolves around efficiency, it is refreshing to have something unique and beautiful and that works well at the same time,” he adds.
While this may look nothing like your run-of-the mill semi-detached house, the form was derived from site conditions and not as an attempt to create something different for the sake of making an architectural statement.
The award-winning boutique architecture and interior design firm’s projects are all modern, but aesthetically varied. “Every project has a unique set of parameters arising from the site, orientation and client’s brief, which in turn, generates a unique design response,” sums up Ai Tiong.