Project Name: A Simple Flat
Architecture: Pencil Office
Lead Designer: Erik L’Heureux FAIA
Contractor: Ngai Chin Construction Pte Ltd
Area: 249 m²
Photo Credits: Ong Chan Hao
A Simple Flat is a response towards a contradiction embedded in living on the equator; to be able to experience and enjoy the nuances of the tropical climate, yet simultaneously, to be protected from its extremes when required. Two entrances exist on the far ends of a radial ground-level apartment, one opens towards the exterior porch and the other opens towards the interior of the apartment complex, allowing tropical air to pass through laterally.
Leveraging on the presence of equatorial air and breeze as a material, “A Simple Flat” entangles the nuances of climate with the life of a young growing family by segmenting the main living space into three volumes. Portals wrapped in timber softly demarcate the air into three volumes, while three variations of ceilings are designed for each of the stages, making visible the qualities of air that they contain.
The third volume of the kitchen is designed with a lower, flat ceiling, encouraging intimacy and domestic life to be performed alongside cooler, conditioned, interior air. Towards the exterior, the ceiling is influenced by billowing and inflated air, taking shape as ceiling vaults that are porous. Two vaults are designed in a gradient perforated aluminum, filtering the bleaching equatorial sun into a hazy light suitable for work and relaxation. A center volume mixes conditioned and unconditioned air, light, and view.
Several devices are used to further modulate the experience of air and climate within the three stages. Air-conditioning units provide quick cooling in unexpectedly hot afternoons through a gradient screen, mixing with natural ventilation in a hybrid form of air to comfort the inhabitants.
Operable timber screens are used to intersect the movement of light and air from the exterior to the center as required, blocking views for privacy, while acoustically filtering the sounds of the exterior urban environment. Fabric filters modulate light and sound-producing a subtle, carefully constructed interior atmosphere. A minimal material palette and attention to detail, combined with the use of the simple architectural devices including the ceiling, screens, and doors, assist in making climate the main protagonist in A Simple Flat.