Singapore Architect – Greenfield Drive

Screening Green

Balancing a need to view and protection from the western sun, HYLA Architects has incorporated a system of motorised timber screens into this semi-detached house.

It is difficult to miss this eye-catching architecture by HYLA Architects, which stands out among a row of semi-detached houses along the perimeter of this neighbourhood park. The architects, in the process of developing the quadratic plot of land, have incorporated the tranquility of the park into this stunning property. The initial impression is one of a floating extruded box frame cantilevered from the second storey and fronted by a row of lush foliage peeking from beneath. Vertical lines are expressed vividly in this project—firstly, by the groove lines of the boundary walls and secondly, via the timber strips screening the projected box frame. The result is a pronounced modern aesthetic. To add a bohemian and natural feel, patterned details that resemble raindrops were further incorporated into the screens.

The first design question conspicuously arose when dealing with the façade fronting the park. While the façade is idea for the house to capture unobstructed views of the park, the open nature of the façade questions the issue of privacy. In addition to this, the elevation also faces the western sun. The search for a solution to maximise the views while minimising heat gain thus became a crucial driver for the architectural form.

Being a corner unit, the house has the distinct advantage of having two unimpeded exterior sides. The park-facing façade is partially enclosed with screens while the road-facing side transits from concrete to timber screens at the entrance of the house. The architectural language of timber and grey concrete is consistently applied to both the external façades to provide a visual flow. In an effort to create an illusion of being detached from its neighbour, the architect inserted a mediating internal courtyard next to the party wall.

Upon entry into the house, the effective dominating characteristic functioning as a centrepiece for the living space is a huge and somewhat monolithic staircase fashioned out of timber. In a sea of marble flooring and white panelling, the timber staircase stands out in stark contrast, which further accentuates its presence on the first storey. The skylight above the staircase floods the living space with natural daylighting.

The dry kitchen and living areas are unified within a structure-free space. This allows for an unrestricted and flexible use of open space, which is an ideal setting for a family with three children. Vague segregation between these two spaces results in a seamless luxurious living space, which opens out fully to the view of a linear pool with lush landscaping in the backdrop. The cantilevered box, located directly above the pool, functions as a solar buffer for the internal space, ensuring the indoor enviornments are constantly kept cool. Moving throught the house, a distinct line defines the demarcation between the living areas and the service zones, with the service areas neatly kept out of sight behind the living area, towards the back of the house.

All the bedrooms of the house are located on the second storey, neatly arranged around the timber staircase with a circulation corridor wrapped around them. An opulent master bedroom takes up a third of the floor plate with a balcony overlooking the pool on the first storey and an attached bathroom featuring a freestnading bathtub tucked to the deepest end of the room, adjacent to an internal landscaped courtyard. The spaces of the master bedroom, family room and guest room fronting the park are set back within a boxed frame lined with Accoya timber screens to provide shading from the western sun as well as to prevent internal private spaces from being visually exposed to the public park.

The Accoya timber screens are fixed on a motorised mechanism to allow flexible control to the façade’s perforation, depending on the residents’ needs. The choice of Accoya timber was specially chosen for tis low maintenance and weather resistant qualities. It is worth noting that even after several years of being exposed to external weather conditions, the Accoya timber shows no signs of warping or decay, justifying the mateiral’s hardy and sustainable characteristics, for which it was specifically selected for.

By virtue of its pure and rational internal spatial configuration, together with the appropriate selection of façade treatment, HYLA Architects presents an aesthetically pleasing yet functional piece of architecture that sensibly adapts to the tropical climate condition.

Writer: Sheena Lim
Photographer: Derek Swalwell