How long did the project take, from conceptualisation, to completion?
We were approached by the client in early 2016. The conceptualisation of the design started soon after and after a few rounds of presentations we finalised the overall form and design in mid-2016. We oversaw all submissions and approval processes and the building was approved for construction by the end of 2016. Construction commenced in March 2017 and took 15 months to complete.
In addition to the architectural design and in line with our goals of combining architecture, interior and furniture design to produce a total design product, TA.LE ARCHITECTS also conducted the interior design of the home. This was run on a separate timeline and we finalised the design in mid-2017. The interior designs were tailored to respond to specific usage patterns of the owners and the design touched on the finer details, hence it was important to work with the clients to get the requirements right. Interior design also meant looking into the selection of materials and finishes and proposing the right bespoke details for all the carpentry works, therefore it required a longer time to perfect the design.
The entire house including the interior fitting out works were fully completed by August 2018 for the move in.
What were some of your design inspirations for this project?
When designing this house there were a few considerations. Comfort was a major priority and to achieve this we looked towards the traditional wisdom of tropical architecture. We understood the natural orientation of the house and positioned it so that the Western sun was screened – reducing ambient temperatures – while maximising natural light into the building. In order to combat the heat that comes with sunlight we developed architectural responses including deep roof eaves and generous overhangs.
The home’s character is also illustrated through the design in the form of angular silhouettes such as the serrated ceiling panels at the Dining room. We softened the lines by employing a light-coloured material palette that included oak timber and soft, diffused lighting (carefully concealed around the ceiling).
What kind of materials did you use in the project?
The exterior of the house is finished in aluminium cladding to ensure durability, and the timber appearance on the southern elevation of the house is achieved by adhering timber-lookalike film over the aluminium cladding. The advantage of this is that the house will consistently look pristine and not age and discolour readily, as compared to using real timber for its exterior.
Within the interior spaces, natural materials area used. For the family spaces wrapping around the central decorative screens, we used a beautiful black marble with gold veins called Portoro Gold. By using the same stone finish on the staircase, counter tops and carpentry works, the overall design achieves a consistent look and the client is quite pleased on that final product.
How did you allow for natural light to be maximised in the home?
Natural light is one of the most important criteria of comfortable living. Yet in the tropics, natural light often comes with unbearable heat coming into the interior. TA.LE ARCHITECTS overcame this using a number of design techniques. We created a house that takes on the silhouette of a typical house in the Tropics, with the unmistakable pitch roof view from the exterior. The large overhang on the exterior provides excellent shades for shielding the sun, thus allowing extensive use of glass that let in natural light which lit up the interior.
The highlight of the house is placed in the centre – a double volume loft where the social gathering is designed to take place (the dining space). Visual connectivity is extended from the ground floor to the 2nd floor and beyond, through a feature metal screen that integrates the staircase. With the full height glazing at the façade, natural light is brought into the space to give it an uplifting feeling.
The introduction of a continuous skylight strip along the partywall allows sunlight to penetrate into the deepest corners of the house, naturally brightening the space which would otherwise be lit artificially – turning the weakness of a semi-detached house into its strength.
The skylight, another feature that brings in natural lighting, is carefully designed with a sandblasted finish to diffuse the sunlight passing through into the interior. This strategy allows diffuse lighting which is more suitable for interior use, and at the same time cuts down the amount of heat coming into the interior.
Please tell us more about the client. How were they, how many of them, what stage of life.
The clients are a Singaporean couple in their 60’s that had spent many years overseas and were preparing to return. So, they approached us to design and build their dream retirement home. The client also had children and so required an additional two bedrooms, and the wife has a deep interest in Chinese calligraphy and painting and so we also created a calligraphy room.
What did they ask for from you? And how did you seek to match their requests through your design?
We had to strike a careful balance in terms of design in order to satisfy the client requests. They wanted a home that responded well to the tropical climate, in that it maximised the use of natural light and ventilation without getting too hot (or wet, with the hard, tropical downpours). At the same time, they also wanted a home that was contemporary. Furthermore, they value their privacy, yet also wanted views of the outside world and the natural surroundings.
We created a ribbon window treatment around the perimeter along the 1st storey façade. Positioned at eye level (around 2.7m high), the ribbon wraps the entire exterior perimeter of the house, providing natural lighting into the common areas but does not compromise the privacy of the occupants. The
upper stories are geometrically simpler and from the outside appear to be floating in the air due to the ribbon treatment below the cladding.
The result is a home that seems to be floating atop the lower windows, creating the impression of light and lightness.
Tell me more about TA.LE ARCHITECTS’ design philosophy?
TA.LE ARCHITECTS is an award-winning Singaporean architecture firm established with the aim of combining architecture, interior and furniture design to produce a total design product. TA.LE ARCHITECTS’ design approach combines the requirements of the client with intellectual rigour and sensual intuition, coupled with sensitivity for wider social and contextual issues. We treat each project as a unique design statement, orchestrated specially for the people who use it. Discovering unexpected solutions for the specifics of programme and context is the foremost goal in all of their assignments. We aim to create memorable buildings and spaces with a human touch.
Have you completed any projects – commercial or residential – in Malaysia?
We have recently completed the SuperPark Malaysia outlet in Kuala Lumpur. SuperPark is an activity centre from Finland that is purpose built for people of all ages. This “hybrid” park is designed to cater to everyone – toddlers, tweens, teenagers and adults – and so had its own unique design features that we worked on.
The park is highly interactive and futuristic. There is the iWall (interactive parkour game), Flying Fox (indoor zipline), Tube Slide, Kid’s Gym, Kid’s Adventure City and Pedal Car Track. For younger kids there is baseball or street basketball, and they can even compete with the RoboKeeper, an AI goalkeeper. We are also able to measure performance by radar and other digital systems.
Another hall within the SuperPark offers a tailor-made fun climbing concept called SuperClimb, a Ninja Track, Skate and Scoot World, Trampoline Platform, Augmented Climbing Wall and Skate Rink. There is also a 232m2 ice skating rink made from 100% recyclable and non-toxic synthetic ice.
The SuperPark is unique in that it is specifically designed to cater to both adults and kids, we also had to create a combination of both light and more extreme sports activities. So TA.LE ARCHITECTS needed to take into account different sizes and weights of the users as well as ensure all health and safety requirements were met.