This unassuming house sits on an odd shaped plot in the heart of central Singapore. Surrounded by an arterial road leading to an expressway on the main length of the site, the house is shielded off from the traffic by the use of vertical off-form concrete fin walls, which are placed strategically to allow views of the lap pool and landscaping as a buffer element. The living, dining and dry kitchen open onto views of the water feature, lap pool and lush landscape garden beyond. The house is designed as a sanctuary and place of respite. The first storey is also designed to cater for entertaining, with a large open plan living, dining and dry kitchen with island, which doubles up as a breakfast counter. A sculptural spiral staircase is carefully inserted between these concrete walls, part of it overhanging the lap pool water below, creating an imagery of the staircase floating above the water.

The design of the house is very site-specific. The site is unique, being located right next to a busy arterial road leading to a major expressway. There are high concrete retaining walls abutting up on the whole side, forming a small enclosed ‘enclave’ for the house. These massive walls shields and shelter the house in a form of protective cradle. We termed the project ‘cove house’ to reflect how the house is designed as a sanctuary from the harsh surroundings, nestled into the site. The side elevation is designed as a series of fin walls, with windows strategically placed to form views from the living spaces towards the pool and peripheral garden. The concrete walls not only convey an image of monolithic strength, a safe fortress against the man-made elements but also brings about the notion of a ‘back-to-basic’ architecture, where the building is presented in its most bare-bone form and every space serves its primary purpose.

Taking respite and privacy into consideration, all three bedrooms including the master suite were located on the 2nd storey. A notable and interesting element would be the master bedroom’s balcony which bridges over the pool on the 2nd storey, creating a vantage point for the users to retreat to. The generously sized gym is located at the attic, where users are greeted by unhampered views of the surrounding while exercising. Horizontal aluminium sliding screens were also implemented on the exterior façade to provide privacy and sun shading to the users. Oak timber was introduced to both the ceiling and flooring to complement and soften the off-form concrete interiorly; this creates a homely, yet contemporary look and feel. The overall building form reflects a raw yet refined construction, supplemented by nature and water elements. The material palette consists of four thoughtfully chosen materials – off-form concrete, oak timber, grey gravel-washed walls and white powdercoated metal screens, reflecting the mood of the house, contemporary yet subtle and refined in nature.