Heritage Meets Resort-Living At This Chic Apartment

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With its tasteful modern tropical ambience replete with an abundance of natural light and ventilation, it is hard to imagine that the original condition of this 947-square foot Upper Bukit Timah apartment was once dark and stuffy. But that was what it was like before the homeowners of this 2-bedroom abode engaged Goy Zhenru of Goy Architects to renovate their home.

The homeowners, a couple in their late 30s with a 5-year-old son and a baby on the way, wanted a sanctuary that was inspired by traditional shophouses and colonial-era black-and-white bungalows. They also loved the idea of veranda living, and wanted a space with ample light and air ventilation. To transform a formerly drab space into a modern tropical haven took the architect plenty of careful consideration and planning.

Some of the major renovation works done in this home included the hacking away of walls in the kitchen and service yard to extend the floor plan of the cooking space. The guest bathroom entrance was also reoriented, while the interior bathroom’s space was reconfigured. The architect worked with Towner Construction, known for their experience with working on conservation projects for the renovation.

To create the “modern vernacular” look of the apartment, Zhenru worked with Foo Design to come up with cabinetry works resembling old-school louvered timber bi-fold doors, screens, timber ceiling battens and timber transoms.

The living room best exemplifies the coming together of traditional elements in a modern setting. Amidst layers of wood surfaces are solid timber furniture sourced from Santai Furniture and Strakx Design based in Central Java. Much attention was paid to the details found in this space. For instance, the ceiling was fitted with battens and casing to resemble those found in old black-and-white bungalows. Zhenru explains, “Unlike modern designs where such details are usually flushed or hidden away, we wanted to use these traditional details and textures to bring out the vernacular aspect of the space.”

The balcony, too, takes its inspiration from colonial bungalows with its louvered bi-fold doors, ironwood timber decking and a timber ledge that serves as an alfresco chill-out zone.

One of the homeowners’ key requirements was to keep the apartment bright with well-ventilated spaces. To meet the brief, the original kitchen, with its enclosed walls and under-utilised service yard corridor, had to be reconfigured. In place of walls, the open-plan kitchen now features a L-shaped counter that doubles up as a food preparation counter and bar counter where the homeowners enjoy perching with their morning papers and coffee. Zhenru explains that the L-shape counter was created out of necessity for storage and cleaning of dishes too, as it contains bottom-mounted cabinets and a sink.

For their sleeping quarters, the couple requested for a simple and restful space. Having ample storage solutions was also something they required. As such, Zhenru kept the design elements basic with the use of white wall planes so that the occupants can enjoy a light-filled bedroom. A unique design element seen here is the feature wall made of teak veneer framed by a dry wall. Concealed strip lighting was inserted along the side of the dry wall to form a halo of low ambient lighting conducive for sleeping.

The master bedroom is not the only private oasis in the apartment though. Both bathrooms, despite their different looks, exude spa-like qualities with their luxurious materials and unsullied appearances. The master bathroom was outfitted with marble-like wall tiles and a Carrara Venato marble counter. The guest bathroom, on the other hand, features travertine look-alike floor tiles matched with black marble countertops. All these nature-inspired materials work as fitting complements to the timber found throughout the home, making it a tropical haven for this family.

This was adapted from an article originally  published in the September 2017 issue of SquareRooms. Photo credits: Goy Architects 

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