Ply House

Merit of Residential Category | Singapore | BCI Asia Interior Design Awards 2018

The Ply House is a project with three main objectives: to transform the existing 40-year-old house structure into a modern design; to suit the diverse lifestyle demands of a large family unit; and to bridge the owner’s traditional Chinese preferences with the younger family members’ tastes.

To maximise the space in this row-house building, the design studio extended the floor plates outwards, while creating a new mezzanine level at the peak. The brickwork façade has been lifted above ground to expose the formerly dark and dank interiors to natural light. The external façade has also been conceived as an ultra-modern architectural shell, forming a shield from the external environment for the private spaces above.

In essence, the house is spatially re-conceived as four distinct typological layers plied over one another in a vertical stack.

The ground level is the communal space for familial gatherings. It is conceived as an outward-facing, wall-less spatial volume. The existing exterior walls were completely removed, extended out into the boundaries, and replaced with a skin of sliding glass doors and operable timber screens— this allows the living space to shift between an insulated timber-lattice lantern and a fully open pavilion-like space cloistered in its private garden. In place of interior walls, a granite-clad platform undulates through various heights to define and denote spaces for dining, lounging, and gathering.

The underground level, which is devoid of natural lighting and mandated to serve as a self-contained apartment, is a dramatic departure from the light-filled openness of the ground level. Embracing its subterranean characteristics as a point of departure, intimate pockets of space are carved out within the constraints of its floor plate, while its perimeters are tucked back to allow slivers of natural light to fall upon its textured surfaces of natural granite and béton brut.

The upper level serves as the private domain. Enshrined completely within the brickwork façade, each of the private spaces espouse segments of the Chinese brickwork within its interiors. Windows and fenestrations were created by shifting and staggering individual bricks within the brickwork lattice, offering filtered glimpses of the exteriors.

A split-level above, the sky level punctures through the brickwork to reveal a light-filled meditative space that is both isolated, yet completely open to the surrounding sky, witha view out into the distant roofscape.

The final result is a building with Chinese culture aesthetics, within a modern Singapore context, that redefine Chinese-ness, house typologies and sustainability. — Construction+ Online

Project Name: Ply House
Location: Li Hwan Close, Singapore
Completion Date: February 2016
Site Area: 224.8 square metres
Gross Floor Area: 360.2 square metres
Building Height: 2.5 storeys with 1 Basement
Number of Rooms: 8
Project QP: Envelope Architects
Interior Design Firm: UPSTAIRS_
Principal Designer: Dennis Cheok
Civil & Structural Engineer: JS Tan Consultants Pte Ltd
Main Contractor: Builders 365 Pte Ltd
Interior Fit-Out Contractor: Builders 365 Pte Ltd
Images: Edward Hendricks (CI&A Photography); UPSTAIRS_