Location:
Hougang Avenue 10, Singapore

Area:
148 m2 / 1593 ft2

Completion:
September 2021

The owners are a couple who originated from China and have since lived in Singapore for more than two decades, with two sons currently in primary and secondary schools. Two unique design requirements from the owners formed the genesis of the project.

Firstly, they intended to have the living room, the typically largest room in an apartment, crafted as a conducive study space for their two boys, which we found to be ‘uniquely-Singaporean’ in the sense of placing strong emphasis on academic pursuit.

Secondly, they found the existing teakwood staircase to be very well-maintained by the prior owners, and of very high-quality timber which is hard to come by nowadays.

Our brief research revealed that this type of teakwood staircase was actually the result of a very popular renovation for HDB maisonettes in the 80s. Trendy as they were, a more conventional design approach nowadays would be to re-finish this rather antique-looking teakwood of the staircase and replace its ornate balustrades. The owners’ fondness of this staircase led us instead to a conservational mindset, which generated two design gestures to bridge this vintage element into the new design for the apartment. At its mid-landing, we extended a triangular cabinet in the closest matching laminate to the teakwood, beyond the balustrade like new growth sprouting from an old teak tree. This triangular cabinet also became the ideal location to house the Wi-Fi router in this double-storied apartment.

Next, we took the inclined geometry of this staircase and drew a converging diagonal line from the wall across, which became a threshold-cabinet that doubled as a privacy screen to shield direct view from the main door. This skewed cabinet formed a polygonal portal with the staircase and sculpted the double-volume stairwell as a triangular courtyard, delineating the front dining area from the study space at the back, enriching the spatial layering of the rectangular floor plan. Diagonal lines found their rightful places through considerations of ergonomics (for example, the body manoeuvres easier round a slanted corner than a right-angled one) in the main space with two study tables, one of which cascaded into a seating bookshelf. Movements through this space achieved a heightened sense of dynamism, as perspectives became more pronounced and varied with the diagonals.

The family reflected that since moving into this apartment, they had spent more time together in the same space as compared to before, where they tended to dwell more in their own individual rooms. It is heartening to find that in this era of ever-increasing online attention, design is yet able to steer awareness towards physical spaces, to return the mind to the here and now.

 

感知几何:侧锋、偏锋蕴藏的人体工学

歌手杨乃文的《湿了,就不怕会下雨》歌词很逗:“上帝说,尼采已死,所以我,不相信悲剧。”

都市生活的演变也让许多人不再相信电视机对客厅的重要性。当“看电视”不再是客厅的默认活动时,客厅做为整个单位的最大空间也释放出了前所未有的可塑性。

屋主夫妇来自中国大陆,在新加坡居住已超过二十多年,两位公子正就读中小学。东方人本就对教育非常重视,再加上新加坡的教育环境,这间转售复式组屋的设计要求就是将底层的客厅打造成适合孩子做功课与阅读的空间。女主觉得连接上下层的柚木楼梯保修得非常好,也喜欢其偏红的色泽与质感。男主则坦言在新加坡居住了这么多年还不能习惯一般组屋一进大门便一览无遗的开放式格局。

“道生一,一生二,二生三,三生万物”是《道德经》的宇宙生成论。宇宙有道,麻雀有道,设计也必有道。那这间复式组屋设计的“一,二,三”是什么呢?

“一”肯定是那柚木楼梯。若说空间是流动的,它就是中流砥柱。它也是庞然大物,其独有的时代感对设计构成巨大挑战,因为设计必须在对它完整保留的前提下显得“古雅”,而不是“古旧”。

“二”是呼应柚木楼梯坡度的一笔斜线,位于底层客房门与厨房门之间,对外是大门前的一扇屏风,对内是摆设与收纳兼具的橱柜。为它穿上了最接近柚木颜色的层压板,让这一新(屏风柜)一旧(柚木楼梯)搭配成双。

“三”是这新旧组合构成的三角庭院。虽然是“有盖”庭院,抬头望不见天空,但倾斜的屏风柜牵引挑高的楼梯间,成就了平面、立面、剖面都蕴含三角几何的独特空间。它还是一处留白,将底层分为前厅与后厅:前厅大门旁一笔入室,对外是鞋柜,对内则是饭桌的长凳;后厅是孩子的书桌与父母的阅读空间,由外到内丰富了空间层次,也添加了隐私感。

“三生万物”,屏风柜搭配柚木楼梯的斜角线条再衍生为无数侧锋、偏锋笔触,统领设计的每一个细节,为空间的个性定调。为了更好地将旧融入于新,楼梯平台延申出了一个三角柜,既共摆设也是安装路由器的最佳位置。平台斜笔拓展于围栏外,每每上下楼梯都见到古树发新枝。厨房门上镶嵌了横纹压花玻璃,圆形的右下缺了一角,退一步便看到缺角斜对墙上的书架,构成明月,山峰,云朵的意象。书桌与书柜全无向外的直角,换以侧锋、偏锋勾勒轮廓。从人体工学的角度看,斜角较易避免碰撞,而从A点到B 点的捷径也往往是斜线。从感知几何形体的角度看,斜角、斜线、斜面更容易牵引人的视线,还会相对观察点的移动而产生变化,让空间生发一种灵动变幻的氛围。

中英文给住房里最大空间的名称值得品味。中文称之为“客厅”,或许是因为东方人特别注重礼仪与待客之道。英文则称 “Living Room”, 仿佛除了卧室、浴室、厨房等单一功能空间,还应有一处多功能空间供人“生活”。曾几何时,会客与生活竟都成了被动的“坐在沙发上看电视”呢?丘吉尔说“我们塑造我们的建筑;而后它们塑造我们”。新家的客厅舍弃了电视,大家不再像以往多待在各自的房里,一家人共在同一空间里的时间增多了。

 

Photography by Studio Periphery, jncollective