A carved out open basement is the driving concept behind this modern family home in the upscale estate of Bukit Timah in central Singapore. The basement was necessary as the small size of the site was not sufficient to accommodate the necessary floor area for the family’s needs. To counter the traditional dark and damp spaces commonly associated with building underground, the basement was conceived as a double volume space with maximum light penetration from the first storey through large over-sized glass panels and a lap pool with a large viewing panel from within the house. Open gardens are also used to invite light deep into the building. The view of the moving pool water creates interest when viewed from different areas of the house, and creates dynamic shadow patterns casted on the basement walls and floor at different times of the day. Together, these elements define the double volume basement as the heart of the house. Upon entry, one is greeted with a view of the casual living area, dining and dry kitchen, defined by dark wall panelling running the full length of these spaces. Moving down, the formal living is situated in the basement, together with a home gym, wine storage and pantry, study and guest room. The private bedrooms are located on the upper two stories, separated from the entertainment areas below.
Visible from the exterior, a two-storey high sculptural ribbon staircase acts as an architectural statement connecting the main living spaces on the basement, first and second stories, with a secondary staircase allowing access to the master bedroom suite on the attic storey above. The ribbon staircase is the main architectural feature of the house, visible from all the living spaces on the lower floors. On the main façade exterior, the first storey walls were cladded in a dark granite stone to provide a sense of permanence and presence to the building. On the second and attic stories, formliners were imported from Germany and used to cast a timber board-form aesthetic onto the faircase off-form concrete walls. Black steel elements serve to provide contrast to the walls and tie the visuals together. In the interiors, materials selected consisted of natural teak wood flooring, grey marble and walnut stained wall panelling, resulting in a contemporary and clean style, consistent with the architecture of the house.