Building for privacy in an intermediate terrace house

Atelier Here reoriented the layout of the house, added a rear extension, crafted a triple-storey atrium and installed large windows to create a cosy family retreat without neglecting privacy.

  • Building for privacy in an intermediate terrace house

Home Type: 4-storey intermediate terrace house

Floor Area: 3,300sqft

Text by Vanitha Pavapathi

Located in the serene Upper Payar Lebar area, specifically on Jalan Kelichap – a name inspired by the Malayan Sunbird frequently spotted in the vicinity – this intermediate terrace house has been transformed by designer Kelvin Lim of Atelier Here into an intimate and cosy home for a family of four: a pilot husband, a homemaker wife, and their two young children in primary school.

Terrace house

The design brief was straightforward yet specific. The homeowner desired three bedrooms and a material palette reminiscent of cosy brick interiors, a memory from his time living in the United States. Enamoured with the texture and warmth of bricks, Kelvin admitted to taking on this project for that fact alone.

However, he also needed to tackle the project’s privacy issue as the intermediate terrace house faces a busy eight-lane road at the front. “To address this, the design necessitates inward-looking spaces,” says Kelvin. Thankfully, the elevated terrain of the rear neighbour’s plot resulted in high rear walls, providing an excellent opportunity for a secluded rear courtyard. He inverted the layout of the house with the main living room looking into the courtyard, visually connecting the homeowner’s plants to the park’s foliage beyond the boundary wall.

The living room’s orientation towards the rear not only ensures privacy but also capitalises on the existing structure. The front half of the original two-storey house was retained, resulting in lower ceiling heights in those areas. Thus, the kitchen and powder room occupy the front half, while the new four-storey extension at the rear boasts a double-volume living room.

This blend of old and new is evident throughout the house, particularly in the living room, dining area and dry kitchen, where facing bricks extend from the ground floor up to the triple-storey atrium. The reinforced concrete columns and beams of the house structure were cast in-situ and left exposed for a raw, industrial touch. This inadvertently creates borders that frame and accentuate the red bricks as feature walls.

Yet, the centrepiece of the project is a series of suspended steel staircases that peels away from one another, connecting the different levels of the house. “This peeling moves both in section and in plan, allowing daylight to reach the deeper spaces of the house,” explains Kelvin. “We wanted the staircase to be very light within the triple volume atrium above the dining space. To achieve that, the staircase was constructed from a steel structure with solid timber planks forming the treads, risers and landings.” The effect is almost akin to that of a suspended chandelier, enhanced by LED strip lighting integrated into the steps.

Upstairs, one of the bedrooms-cum-study features bi-fold windows that open up for ventilation and overlooks the neighbourhood in the distance as well as the dining area and dry kitchen below. The master bedroom, retained from the original house, boasts a double volume pitched ceiling, adding to its spacious feel. Hidden behind the headboard wall lies the master bathroom clad with textured scalloped relief tiles on the wall, which bounce off light differently between day and night. Meanwhile, the bathroom vanity sits along the same plane as the full-height wardrobe and inset into the carpentry for a seamless design language.

Terrace house

At the rooftop level, the attic family lounge cantilevers forward, creating a shaded roof terrace that overlooks a community playground. This design not only provides practical shade but also offers a vantage point, much like a dovecote, enhancing the connection to the surrounding environment.

Here, a cabin-like atmosphere is achieved with timber rafters and birch plywood ceiling boards, providing an intimate escape for family bonding amidst the bustling neighbourhood.

Atelier Here

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