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Pragmatic design revives this once characterless 50-year-old apartment

PI Architects transformed an old condominium into an expansive home with generous volumes and seamless planes, ideal for uncluttered and mindful living.

Home Type: 3-bedroom condominium unit

Floor Area: 1,905sqft


Text by Stephanie Peh

Living and working in a crowded city like Singapore can be quite draining. There is no better escape than home to invigorate and recharge. Engaged to helm the renovation of a home for an early childhood educator, her husband, mother-in-law, toddler and dog, PI Architects turned an old condominium unit into a modern-day sanctuary that invites calm and quiet introspection, with a focus on pragmatic design.

“The brief was to re-design the interiors of a home with pure, clean architectural language where clear lines, planes and volumes could be clearly read. The materials, too, had to be complementary in creating a feeling of serenity, calmness and harmony,” explains architect Ivan Soh of PI Architects.

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Quietly demarcated by pebble wash floors and barely-there steel rods, the apartment’s doorway recalls the experience of walking through a Japanese Zen garden. Slightly raised, the cosy portal exudes a calming effect before one leaves or returns to the apartment. With two steps down, the expansive living and dining room reveals itself.

pragmatic design of Cavenagh Court condo by Pi Architects

Stretching from doorway to the living room, the shoe rack, television console and storage spaces are organised alongside a single wall, blending into the seamless space unobtrusively, guiding the eyes to other functional elements of the space. “All storage in the house is neatly designed to look like they are tucked behind full-height vertical planes,” says Ivan.

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Barely-there beige tiles in large format and whitewashed walls set the mood for a Zen apartment that embraces light and shadow from the living space to the common corridor and bedrooms. Recessed lighting with disappearing edges complement the floors. This results in clean, horizontal planes that epitomise the ‘good design is invisible’ philosophy, which prioritises the needs of the inhabitants over creating a strong impression. “The door to the master bedroom is specially detailed to play up this continuity of the planes, thus creating simplicity and purity of architectural language,” says the architect.

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The idea of pragmatic beauty, material purity and utility extends to the bathrooms. The walls, floors, glass dividers and mirrors were deliberately subdued to highlight the core bathroom accessories and products, each an innovation in its own right.

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In the kitchen, monochrome laminates, subway tiles and compress quartz form the base palette with light wood accents. Cabinets and counter spaces were optimised without taking over the entire kitchen.

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An eye-level rectangular wall cutout enhances the depth of space. Functionality-wise, it enables the owner or her mother-in-law to watch over the toddler while they are preparing meals.

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Although seemingly effortless, the renovation was not without challenges. PI Architects revealed that the 50-year-old unit at Cavenagh Court had been renovated at least three times by the past owners, leaving behind construction oversights that were only revealed during the renovation stage. This includes three layers of over-laid tiles, which had to be removed, and hidden wires in the floors (instead of ceiling or walls), which meant that the wiring had to be redone.

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Despite all that, the new space is contemporary, comfortable and pragmatic, embracing space as an asset rather than emptiness that needs to be filled. In a home where living with less means more, there is room for personal thoughts and reflection, and being with family — a much-needed respite and comfort from all the noise that surrounds modern living.

pragmatic design of Cavenagh Court condo by Pi Architects floor plan

PI Architects
www.piarchitects.sg
www.facebook.com/PIArchitectssg
www.instagram.com/piarchitects_

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