Trends – Greenbank Park

Trends Magazine (New Zealand Outdoor Living & Holiday Home) Vol 27 No 11 issue
Trends Magazine (South East Asia & The Gulf) Vol 28 No 10 issue

Outside the square
The semi-detached house style was introduced to Southeast Asia around the beginning of the 20th century, when much of the region was still under colonial rule. As in England, the style proved popular and many examples can still be seen today.

While a semi-detached house offers a host of practical benefits, including cost and space efficiency, the Victorian mode of living is very different to our modern-day lifestyle, which calls for a more open-plan style that favours a greater connection between indoors and out.

When Architect Han Loke Kwang was approached to design a new home on a semi-detached lot, he immediately conceived a property that would fully embrace the contemporary character.

“There were a number of factors in our favour with this project. There were no statutory requirements governing the style of structure we could build, the lot was wider than the typical, and we were able to go up to three storeys.”

The width of the lot and the provision for three storeys meant Han was able to incorporate an outdoor area with pool into the design.

“The extra height allowance meant we could accommodate all of the living areas within a smaller footprint, making the addition of a pool possible.

“There was also the added advantage of maximising the views from the third storey and making that a design feature.”

Han says the conventional response would have been to place the pool and courtyard on the open side of the site, retaining the party wall for the house.

“By doing the opposite, I’ve used that wall to maximise privacy, creating an inner courtyard that has a strong sense of presence, and therefore a strong influence on the whole ambience of the house – a feature enhanced by having the front door open directly into the courtyard.

The privacy gained through this design also means the ground floor of the house can be open plan, utilising the increased ventilation, and the process of transpiration, to passively cool the house.

Unconventional in execution, the design is also uncomplicated, a trait Han says he prefers.

“I always try to do very simple, modern designs – in this case, a distinct form removed from the party wall. I’m more interested in exploring how the internal spaces will correlate, rather than adding embellishment to the exterior.”

This is particularly evident in the architect’s use of external blinds for the west-facing front of the house, which help to maintain the crisp, linear aesthetic of the design.

“Simplicity in the material and colour palettes also ensures that the spaces speak for themselves,” says Han.

“A neutral background means that the furnishings can come to the fore, while the use of wood imparts a feeling of being close to nature. The blue tiles of the pool interior and water feature make a pleasing accent and also pick up on the sky reflected in the water.”

Writer: Justin Foote
Photography: Derek Swalwell