Layered, textured spaces bring new dimension to a standard five-room flat in Tanjong Pagar designed by OMG Atelier.
21 September 2023
Home Type: 5-room HDB flat
Floor Area: 1,313sqft
Text by Janice Seow
Architect Lee Hui Lian of OMG Atelier has transformed a 47-year-old, five-room flat in Tanjong Pagar into a homey dwelling defined by flexible, layered spaces and playful touches.
“We hope to inject some fun in the work we do at OMG Atelier. With this project, we experimented with the play of colours and textures in different areas of the house. We also believe that as much as we do plan for every corner of the space, it is important to allow for spaces to breath, for moments of nothingness,” says Hui Lian.
The client is a self-described homebody who travels frequently for work. Living here with her partner and cat, she desired a spacious apartment, cooling floors, elements of texture and splashes of colour. When it came to the layout, the spaces had to be functional and flexible, yet have clearly delineated areas for work and rest. An indoor balcony to chill was also part of the brief.
Hui Lian shares that at its core, Spotty House “is an exploration of how materiality can soften thresholds and introduce subtle depth within a conventional apartment plan”. Also of note, the flat is situated within a quiet and lushly planted estate. The owner enjoys the fact that it is bathed in natural light and calmness, and surrounded by nature, and these are all important elements that the architect has sought to invite into the house.
Connecting the flat to its external surroundings became Hui Lian’s first consideration, which she addressed through a mindful application of different materials where floor finishes were gradually differentiated to transition from the public to private, the external to internal.
Pebblewash is used at the entrance foyer and the curved, internalised balcony to suggest the outdoors and forge a visual connection to the rest of the estate. The living, dining and study spaces are finished in cement screed of complementary tone to the pebblewash, providing a neutral backdrop for the client’s furniture, plants and objects. Within the most private layer, wood-inspired vinyl flooring encourages warmth and intimacy in the bedrooms.
The original room sizes in this unit have been retained, but Hui Lian has converted one into a study. Only the bathrooms and kitchen have been reconfigured to better suit the client’s needs. The powder room has been reduced to accommodate the indulgence of a small bathtub in the master bathroom, and its entrance relocated to the kitchen. A storage area now occupies the previous powder room and kitchen entrances with its doors set flush to the dining room wall, strengthening the geometry of that space.
Together with these changes, the kitchen is now accessed via a curved drop off near the entrance area. A pocket sliding door housed in the storeroom can be deployed during heavy cooking.
Bearing in mind the client’s brief for a spacious home, Hui Lian wanted to visually extend the long central dining area, while retaining the sense of privacy. Thus came the decision to replace the wall enclosure of the adjacent study (formerly a bedroom) with glass blocks that can be accessed through large glass panel sliding doors.
“As a playful gesture, we set a servery window into the blocks facing the television at the living area. With these openings, the client can vary ventilation, presence and connectivity as desired,” says Hui Lian.
The diffusion of light casting through the glass blocks creates a gently radiant space. This same idea is implemented in the powder room, where glass blocks above the sink borrow light from the yard area, while a fritted glass door lets in light from the kitchen entrance.
Having maintained the flat’s low ceiling height, low seating, cabinets and consoles have also been mindfully selected for a cosier experience and to enable more open sightlines.
When it comes to artificial light, ambient coves and feature lighting are the mainstays that continue the calming atmosphere permeating this home, while creating depth through the play of shadows.
Such lighting also harmonises with the peaceful tones that are found in the flat. Notably, colours are used to bring forth a spot of playfulness, not just through objects in the main spaces, but through carpentry and the material palette in the ancillary spaces: namely, the low-height kitchen cabinets in dark turquoise; the powder room vanity lined in small terracotta tiles (a nod to the shophouses lining the edge of the estate); and the master bathroom fluted tiles and carpentry in a pale green.
Spotty House carries an alluring balance of depth and quiet, texture and minimalism. It’s a home that gently engages you and draws you into the present. It is as the owner had hoped, and that OMG Atelier has fulfilled through a well thought out design.
Photography by Ong Chan Hao
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