Sumit Singhal loves modern architecture. He comes from a family of builders who have built more than 20 projects in the last ten years near Delhi in India. He has recently started writing about the architectural projects that catch his imagination.
33 Holland Park in Singapore by studioMilou
May 18th, 2016 by Sumit Singhal
Article source: studioMilou
33 Holland Park in Singapore is one of the rare private residential projects carried out by the studio. With a design centred around the creation of an intimate yet expansive garden sanctuary holding layers of seamlessly linked living spaces, this project represents a concentration of the key architectural philosophies which recur in the studio’s larger civic projects: the importance of elegant meditative environments characterised by fluidity and a fusion between exterior and interior spaces, a deep respect for existing structures, the history and potential of a site, and the imperative for a design to be harmonious with the wider natural and human surrounds.
Thanks to the open and supportive relationship between the studio and the client, this project presented a unique opportunity to explore, on a human scale, the studio’s defining interests.
The original site consisted of around 2,000 square metres of broadly triangular-shaped land with a 1930s single-story bungalow of around 300 square metres built of brick masonry with a wooden frame, flat roof tiles and interior teak flooring. Originally built for an English civil servant, the house is on the national conservation listing. As a result, no additional building could be added to the existing structure and a certain distance was required to buffer the original house from any new construction.
At the same time, the brief required 700 sqm of new living spaces including common areas, a music room, 6 bedrooms to serve three generations, and a pool. Key challenges of the design, then, were to transform the unusual land shape and spatial/conservation limitations of the existing site into a beautiful house able to combine many diverse living areas filling the greater part of the land with a sense of expansiveness and spatial harmony which is a signature of studioMilou.
A house of views
33 Holland Park is also a house of views. From each of the house’s hallways and common areas are views which traverse and link one space to another, whether from one wing of the new house to another, or between the main residence and the conservation house. Large glass windows frame the intense foliage at every opportunity, offering a warm palette of rich greens beside the stone and polished Burmese teak of the floors and walls. From the landscaped roof of the new building are tree-top views of surrounding houses, and in turn, neighbours enjoy views of Holland Park’s verdure, which discreetly contains the monumental nature of the design.
A transparent paravent
studioMilou’s project overcame the limits imposed by the land’s shape and the existing conservation house with a design giving a sense of transparency and fluidity between the old and new buildings, between interior and exterior. To achieve this, the outer wall of the new structure is a paravent-like wall system, consisting of rising screens opening onto a walkway which winds around the site, with both borders lined with lush vegetation that appears to venture both into the house on one side, and over the neighbouring properties on the other. A feeling that the house expands into the garden, and that the garden inhabits the house is accentuated by the closeness of plants to the house’s closed surfaces. Dense foliage caresses the many glass surfaces of the house, and towers to the second-floor spaces.
A discreet welcome, a private place
Upon entering the house from the driveway, the visitor is unaware of the almost monumental scale of the new house, covered as it is by vegetation and carefully designed proportions aimed at avoiding any stark comparison with the one-storey conservation house. To further unify the two buildings, the conservation house serves as the key reception area and kitchen, through which one passes to the new residence, the door of which is aligned with the exit of the former. A rectangular pool lines one outer wall of the new house, with water and green-grey tiles softening the visual links between the conservation house and the new structures. The simplicity of the conservation house’s interior – white ceilings and walls, uncluttered furnishings – adds to a sense of openness towards the exterior and the paravent form of the new building walls, which seem to encompass the historic house in a protective manner. It is only when inside the new residence that the largesse of its design gradually becomes apparent.
Unifying materials, colours
Another approach common to studioMilou’s work is the restricted use of materials and colours. Accordingly, the materials chosen for the exterior, including grey glass-reinforced concrete columns and stainless steel, have been composed in such a way as to play with the colours of the vegetation and to accentuate the impression of an architecture which is transparent and in conversation with the trees and light. The reflections and movement of the pool’s water, set off by the soft grey-green stone tiles, contribute to the play of light and life, and seem to belong equally to both houses. Sharing light wall colours and the warm glow of Burmese teak floors, the interiors of both buildings offer calm backgrounds for the ever-present plants whose foliage reaches towards and into the house from all angles.