Habitus – Surprising Seclusion

Issue #40 June-August 2018

Residential Rainforest

Within the lush tropics of Binchang Rise, Singapore, lies a sea of fine detail at the hands of HYLA Architects.

Living with a major road behind you and a neighbour on one side, it can be hard to find moments of peace and privacy – particularly if you want any kind of outdoor space. So Singapore architecture firm HYLA Architects created a bathroom where light, space and greenery can all be found within four walls.

Although architect Han Loke Kwang describes the space as “inward-looking and hermetic”, the bathroom is simultaneously porous and sunlit. “Normal windows would have made it quite exposed, so we created openings in the brick that allow air to go in and out but that keep it completely private through the interlocking pattern of three layers of brick,” he says. A dense crop of tropical plants along one side offsets the raw materials with a sense of lushness.

The client’s brief was for a highly functional space – two basins, a bathtub and a shower – but its execution was artful. In a long, narrow space, HYLA has achieved a sense of space through high ceilings, clever storage, and creative coups – such as forgoing an enclosed shower for a column.

“Originally the shower was just to be a regular column, then the client came back and said, There’s no way I’m going to be able to put my shampoo and body was there, so it became a crucifix shape instead,” says Han. “We joke that showering is like a religious experience.”

Text Kirsty Sier
Photography Derek Swalwell