Walls come down

The walls came down in the apartment this week, leaving behind a patchwork of what used to be the original flooring finishes. There is always a differentiation of tiled floors for living areas and timber for the bedrooms. Why can't there be just one finish, as if the walls did not divide enough and define what was already a relatively small space.
This has always been practiced and has grown to be a standard feature of our local residential housing design.

This was what it used to be.

Something worth keeping, perhaps.

More updates on construction as we go along.


We've often admired architects and designers whose work shows a continuity through a consistency of design approach executed across a range of types and scales. Projects are subject to various constraints and to do that I guess would require a combination of
critical thinking and strong direction beyond that of the visual. Of course, a little bit of luck in having a client that you can engage with always helps.
As a practice and looking back at a selection of what we have done in the last half a year or so, it is interesting to reflect upon this for ourselves.

We hope we can someday achieve that.


The architectural Interior 03

Another project update. This time we are working on the interiors for a 800 sqft 2-Bedroom apartment in a newly built condominium of about 30 units.

The apartment is typical of many completed condominium projects here. Each apartment comes with standard white homogeneous tiled flooring and timber strips in the bedrooms. The kitchen comes fitted with standard corian countertops and finished in artificial wood or plastic laminate finish. Bedrooms have fitted designer wardrobes and fixed shelving. Nothing much really, from an architectural point of view. Till we saw the bay windows that extended outwards to the internal facade of every room in the apartment. Which still did not get us any more excited. In fact due to the heat radiating through the large expanse of window glazing in our tropical weather, I doubt this space would be used much, what with the white wash paint and plaster rendered finish on the ledge. That extra 500mm of space was there primarily to gain extra saleable area for the developers.

[Image from Google image search]

Bay windows are not an uncommon to residential development yet it was perhaps the most apparent condition in the apartment which we could respond to. Can bay windows form not only an extension of a room's space projecting outwards, but rather be deepened internally to create and embody functions? This became the typological thinking that informed the design.
Our client wanted to remove the bedroom walls and to create an open plan arrangement. This is not the first time we have worked with enlightened clients who bought standard apartment units but want to reconfigure interior spaces to suit their needs. It is an interesting paradox, perhaps a product of our rapid urban development and building guidelines, that the private apartment has reached levels of mass production not unlike the ubiquitous public housing solutions built and offered by the HDB. Perhaps this is the reason that led many homeowners to rethink their space and lifestyle needs and also the reason why we still have a job in these times.

[Images by PLYSTUDIO]

The larger question remains : to what extent can interior elements be designed as part of the architecture? In our local context, we call this 'built-up'. In the case of these condominiums, it refers to the fixed elements that come purchased. Not that it is anything new, for as described above the apartments already come fitted, but perhaps it can be done in a more interesting way.

Construction is expected to commence soon. More updates to come.



[Image by Couple]

Some recent works update. No, this is not a project for a house (though we wish we could be given a commision to design one), but rather, a work in progress design and fit-out for the Design for Enterprises Center (DFEC) for Design for Enterprises.

DFEC is a national business agency set up to help local businesses understand the impact design has on potential business growth through a network of design initiatives. Essentially this will be a space where business owners are 'matchmade' with respective designers to work with. The functional requirements of meeting, resource, display and temporary exhibition support the ambition of outreach.

Given that the space has a relatively small area of 1000sqft coupled with bad frontage, the most exacerbating aspect is that it is encumbered at high level by mechanical services filling up a large portion of the ceiling. Upon closer study there are several areas where ‘pockets’ of high ceilng can be exploited. Our approach was to find ways to compensate for this lack of.

On a parallel note, continuing typological thinking through our works, we took on the archetype of the house as a physical 'shelter', of which the roof - that which is an overhead covering, becomes the direct determinant of the space below it. 'House' also means to contain, which was kind of apt since it will be the new 'home' for DFEC. We were somehow inclined to think graphically as well - the only other information we had about the space when preparing for the initial design bid were the collaterals which constituted the brand identity of DFEC by Couple - cardboard boxes in the form of 130mm cubes.

[Image by Couple]

Alongside thinking about creating a new 'House' for DFEC, we devised a 'top down' approach to organising the floorplan. Instead of conventional walls, the new ceiling literally is the element that organises, defines and subdivides the required functional spaces of the DFEC. Gaps in the services zone are exploited for height; the ceiling geometry is characterised by various angular roof pitches to reach the highest apex possible, defining the overall form of the ceiling. Downhang walls and shelving units are suspended from the new ceiling structure, providing display, storage, power and lighting supply to allow clustering of smaller functions.

Working together with our Client DesignSingapore, the required functions are re-programmed into a fluid mix to reflect the feeling of openness. Staff and public mingle while you pick up and browse a product catalogue off the shelf or use the hotdesking area to get infomation off the web. These functional zones can be reconfigured should the need require by sliding the downhang shelves into position. This mobility creates a range of useful scenarios which allows for the changing nature of the center.

[All images by PLYSTUDIO unless otherwise stated]

Expected completion in April 2009. Do check our website for project description.


Catching Up

The past month has been crazy with deadlines, family engagements and a trip out of town over the festive season and a couple of job pitches thrown in. I know the blog has been somewhat neglected, and our website needs some serious updating with new works too. Will be catching up with all that very soon when we are back on track.