New ways of living in a dual-key HDB flat

KTARCH has given a humble three-room flat the ability to morph into a dual-key residence when the need arises. See how it was done.

  • New ways of living in a dual-key HDB flat

Home Type: 3-room HDB flat

Floor Area: 732sqft

Text by Janice Seow

We know of dual-key condos, but this project by design studio KTARCH offers up an exciting residential typology – that of a dual-key HDB flat, and in a compact three-room unit no less.

“Looking to the future, the client, who lives alone, wanted his home to be able to accommodate two individuals living independently in the same unit should the need arise,” says Khai Toh, the founder of KTARCH. “At the same time, he envisioned his home as one filled with natural light; imbued with calm and conducive for contemplation and deep thinking. Space maximisation was also an important requirement,” he continues.

dual-key flat

Khai has executed the brief with finesse and found ways to elegantly deliver adaptable spaces and solutions across the unit so the home can morph from a single to double occupant residence with ease.

At the same time, he shares that it was important that the home reflected the unique DNA of the client. Through conversations and discussions, it became apparent to the architect that his client was, among other things, an innovator, highly independent, and a person who thought outside the box. “At KTARCH, believe that it is vital to draw out, emphatically, the latent quality of the client, the unspoken, their innate being. The design challenge with this project therefore, was to successfully translate these intangibles into tangible spatial characters that represent, enable, support and enhance the client’s well-being and lifestyle,” Khai explains.

dual-key 3-room flat

At the entrance, the architect has designed a foyer with two separate doors on each side. The door on the right leads one into a space designed for lounging and gathering with friends. The sofa doubles as a bed for overnight stays while the daybed by the window serves as additional seating. Entering from the left would lead one into a multifunctional space comprising a study with a wall-to-wall work desk, an exercise and entertaining area, and further in, the bedroom.

The wall running straight through the centre of the unit, along with one bedroom and the storeroom have been demolished, resulting in a U-shaped, open-plan layout with an enlarged portal about 2.4 metres wide. It connects the two sides of the living space, while the oversized, full-height and acoustically treated sliding door can be closed to turn the flat into a dual-key residence with two separate and independent living units.

dual-key flat

Overall, the soothing colour palette gives the home a sense of lightness and airiness, and the strategic placements of oversized mirrors behind the foyer and in the living room extend the visual depth in an otherwise confined space. Lighting is a combination of dimmable recessed downlights and indirect coved lighting reflected off wall surfaces to create a calm hospitality-like ambience.

The kitchen is also laid out in a U shape. One area houses the cooking section while the other is dedicated to a high-top breakfast/dining space. The mosaic backsplash injects a cheery shot of colour to the pristine white interior. To allow more room for movement in the common bathroom, the vanity has been brought out and now sits like a ‘jewel-like box’ attached to the rear of the kitchen sink area.

Making reference to a boutique hotel room, the bedroom is designed with sleeping, en-suite bath and light coffee bar amenities all within reach. It is located at the private inner corner of the unit and is separated from the living area by a ‘floating wardrobe’ that is detached from the wall.

“It is seen as a sculptural object in space while offering a small gap (between itself and the wall) for penetration of light from the window deeper into the living area through the master bedroom,” says Khai, adding, “Similarly from the opposite side, natural light from the HDB public corridor gets to penetrate deeper into the master bedroom via the gap – allowing light to bounce around the interior and giving a sense of airiness and lightness to the space.” Instead of a solid door, a heavy duty velvet curtain can be drawn to give the room privacy, adding softness and visual texture to the space.

To maintain the neat and pristine aura of the space, a built-in storage counter has been installed against the window in the bedroom for bulky items and to accommodate an undercounter fridge. It also serves multiple functions as a casual worktop and a coffee preparation area.

dual-key flat

The humble three-room flat is made fit for purpose for the present and the future. Just as important, despite its compact size, it is a meditative and serene space where the owner can partake the quiet activities he enjoys.

dual-key flat


Photography by Marcus Lim

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