The Chic Home: Maze-like Bukit Timah house full of twists and turns

The playroom – a miniature house, complete with a slide and a staircase leading to a secret reading nook – is a hit with the daughter.
The playroom – a miniature house, complete with a slide and a staircase leading to a secret reading nook – is a hit with the daughter. PHOTO: TAN WEI TEE & VEE CHIN WITH ART DIRECTION BY NONIE CHEN & KRISTY QUAH
The project took about 20 months and the house cost $3.9 million to build.
The project took about 20 months and the house cost $3.9 million to build.PHOTO: TAN WEI TEE & VEE CHIN WITH ART DIRECTION BY NONIE CHEN & KRISTY QUAH
A few steps up from the living area is the dining room, and the dry and wet kitchens at the back of the house.
A few steps up from the living area is the dining room, and the dry and wet kitchens at the back of the house.PHOTO: TAN WEI TEE & VEE CHIN WITH ART DIRECTION BY NONIE CHEN & KRISTY QUAH

SINGAPORE - When the home owners purchased this detached landed property in Bukit Timah a few years ago, their cost analysis showed that it made more sense to demolish the old house and build a new one.

Even though the existing home was still in fair condition, starting from scratch would allow the young family to build a home suited to their lifestyle and needs.

Having moved from a three-bedroom condominium, the owners were adamant that their new 7,503 sq ft home did not just feel like a bigger apartment.

"I did not want overly large spaces. Instead, I wanted many smaller spaces my family and I could gravitate to as we engaged in different activities in the course of a day," says the husband.

He and his wife, who declined to reveal their occupations, are in their late 30s and have a five-year-old daughter.

They moved into the home in January 2020. The project took about 20 months - the house cost $3.9 million to build - and is a collaboration between Formwerkz Architects' Mr Alan Tay, one of the firm's founding partners, and the newer Super Assembly, whose principal architect, Iskandar Idris, had previously worked at Formwerkz.

"It is a home with many nooks and crannies. It can accommodate large family gatherings spread over different spaces and rooms," says Mr Iskandar.

Two perforated shells make up the datum across multiple split levels between which the spaces are organised. An outer shell frames the outdoors and an inner one wraps around a garden courtyard that extends to the full height of the house.

Depending on where a person is standing and his viewing angle, apertures may align or realign. The space on the opposite side of the courtyard, for example, is concealed when the line of sight changes, allowing a visitor to discover new vistas as he meanders through the spaces.

It is hard to say exactly how many storeys the house has, because of the split levels that give it a maze-like effect. Due to the undulating topography, access to the basement garage is at street level. An outdoor staircase around the side of the garage goes directly up to the pool deck and the entrance leading to the living area.

The door in the garage opens to a basement foyer. From there, a straight flight of stairs leads further down into the basement, where there is an entertainment room and a multipurpose chill-out zone.


The entertainment room (left) and a multipurpose chill-out zone (right). PHOTO: TAN WEI TEE & VEE CHIN WITH ART DIRECTION BY NONIE CHEN & KRISTY QUAH

A few steps up from the basement foyer is a music area overlooking the space below. A dramatic staircase spirals from this area to the main floor. Its elevation above the road gives this level a sense of privacy, especially when looking out over the pool deck adjacent to the living area. A few steps up from the living area is the dining room, and the dry and wet kitchens at the back of the house.


A dramatic staircase spirals from this area to the main floor. PHOTO: TAN WEI TEE & VEE CHIN WITH ART DIRECTION BY NONIE CHEN & KRISTY QUAH

Tucked into a corner beside the dining area is a playroom modelled after a miniature house - complete with a secret reading loft and a slide.

Then, moving up and around the central courtyard, more spaces and vistas reveal themselves: a study here, a family room and guest room there, a peek at the daughter's bedroom across the courtyard and, finally, the master suite at the top.

The spatial experience allows people to "slow down and appreciate the spaces they are passing through", says Mr Iskandar.


Windows around the central courtyard, which provides a focal point that helps in wayfinding. PHOTO: TAN WEI TEE & VEE CHIN WITH ART DIRECTION BY NONIE CHEN & KRISTY QUAH

  • This article first appeared in the September 2021 issue of Home & Decor, which is published by SPH Magazines.
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