The Contemporary House – Lines of Light House

Country Singapore
Architect HYLA Architects
Year 2014

Modest private houses are relatively rare on the ground in Singapore. As in many major Asian cities, the most common form of housing is the apartment building, with government-built blocks joined by signature projects by private developers. The focus is almost always on density. Individual houses were traditionally built only for the very affluent and as a result tend to be restricted to certain low-rise areas. Smaller row houses are slightly more common, but by far the most coveted housing archetype I the city is the grand detached villa.

Lines of Light House is an attempt to bring the sense of scale and vision of the villa to a relatively dense low-rise neighborhood. Occupying a corner site with a westerly orientation, the design is arranged to screen the interior from excessive solar gain. This takes the form of a recessed glass façade beneath an extruded roof pitch, which provided a covered terrace as well as the required shade.

Although the exterior forms a re uncompromisingly modern, geometric and pared back, the architects drew inspiration from the local vernacular, in particular the traditional Malay kampong house, which is raised up on stilts, uses post-and-beam construction and often has slatted timber facades for ventilation and privacy. ‘The house is a modern interpretation of that, with its modular steel columns and the timber screen,’ they say. The entire street elevation is enveloped by a wrap-around slatted timber screen, with a narrow walled tropical garden acting as another buffer zone.

Inside, the house tapers to its narrowest point at the far end of the site, with all services and the staircase pushed to the edge of the plan. A double-height sitting room, kitchen and dining area occupy the ground floor, with sliding glass doors opening up to the garden. Three bedrooms are on the floor above, with a master suite occupying the entire attic floor, along with a study, gym, generous wardrobe and small covered terrace. The house succeeds in addressing both the edge conditions of its plot and the historical context of Singapore.