FuturArc – Belimbing Avenue

FuturArc Volume 37 Jul-Aug 2014
Well of Light, Air and Water

Belimbing Avenue is a 30-year-old, three-storey intermediate terrace house with a design brief that called for spaces to cater for a small multi-generational family of four. As with all houses of this type, both sides are attached to party walls, often blocking daylight and air flow. Therefore, the key challenge for this renovation project was how to introduce light and ventilation into the interiors.

The architects sought new ways of partitioning the different areas of the house to suit Singapore’s culture and climate. Rather than designing a building filled with spaces, the house was designed as a spaced filled with buildings.

The house is divided into two blocks–one in front of the site and the other behind. The layout is planned along the two blocks and three levels, with each generation occupying a floor in a block.

On the first storey, a screen/display shelf divides the staircase from the living room. The staircase that is placed on the side of the front block maximises privacy in the bedroom areas The living, dining and dry kitchen occupy the front block and is in one continuous space, while the wet kitchen, maid’s room and service areas are at the rear block.

On the second floor are the rooms of the son (front block) and grandfather (rear block). The owner and his wife occupy the attic level. Timber bridges were installed to connect the blocks and rooms of the occupants

To avoid having long, dark and narrow spaces, a staircase was built to split the building from the party wall. The staircase runs along the side and its solid timber treads span across the side of the front building and the party wall. it is covered by a glass roof with timber trellis suspended by steel cables. The effect is like a fabric canopy of timber strips and the detail does not require any nailing or screws. This design creates a gentle camber in the timber canopy which, in turn, casts patterns of shadow on the path below. The canopy also protects the interiors from the solar heat while allowing enough light to pass through. This concept is repeated in the entrance gate where pieces of timber are slotted between the steel frames, again without the use of permanent fixings.