The intriguing notion of a liveable artwork is put to the test in this house where art and architecture are one.
26 July 2021
Text by Luo Jingmei
Photography by Daniel Koh
“As the owner is an art collector, my design for the house began from thinking how architecture and art can coexist. Usually, architecture containing artwork tries to play a passive role but for this bungalow, I took the opposite approach. Architecture can be art itself, and the elements of the architecture can be art pieces,” says Han Loke Kwang, founder of HYLA Architects on a bungalow he christened Sculpted Space.
Located in Singapore, the house is an intriguing liveable artwork. The architecture is an amalgamation of materials and forms, softened by luxuriant landscaping. It is heralded at the front with a timber-clad cantilevering car porch canopy and facade abutting a brass-wrapped spiral staircase, punctuated with peepholes.
A concrete screen that runs down the plot’s pool as sun shading-and-privacy device frames this rustic totem. Loke Kwang has employed this datum in several projects for its effectiveness and tectonic beauty. Here, he detailed the screen to be more open at the top for breeze, but also made each concrete fin thicker for privacy when looked in from an angle.
The concrete screen’s enveloping gesture gives the pool a semi-open ambience like a courtyard. Creating this sheltered and semi-open oasis within the house is important, as tall neighbouring houses look into the plot. Placing the brass cylinder at the front of the house helps in providing privacy while buffering interiors from the harsh western sun.
On the first storey, Loke Kwang arranged the common programmes in a linear sequence. The foyer segues to the living area, dry kitchen, dining room and then kitchen at the rear. The pool runs down one side and landscaping the other, fostering strong indoor-outdoor connections.
Above the living room is an art gallery, whose barrel vault ceiling is both dramatic and pragmatic. The curved surface reflects light from two rows of skylights so that ample diffused light enters the double-volume room while not damaging the artworks. The owner collects art for his own enjoyment and this space lets him display works that had been previously housed in storage as he lived in an apartment. The open space is also ideal for Jujitsu practice sessions with his young son.
The house’s artistic quality extends to utilitarian spaces such as the bathrooms, where walls and counters curve and taper. Deep in the plan, bookshelves scale the walls of a secondary staircase wrapped entirely in timber to appear like yet another sculpture within the home.
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