This project is situated in a typical Singaporean landed housing estate built in the 1980s. The estate is located in an area of interesting and seemingly disparate activities. Within a 1.5km radius, the Stark House is surrounded by other housing estates – both low and high rise, the Changi Prison Complex, Changi Airport, and several industrial and commercial areas.
With this fairly unusual confluence of building types, we began by questioning ourselves what context means to us. More often than not, architecture participates in multiple contexts with layers of complexities. For a new element of architecture to be introduced successfully, there is an absolute need for a holistic consideration of the various contexts involved. For the sake of inclusivity and community conduciveness, our belief lies in that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Examining what it means to respond to site context eventually became the main driver of the scheme.
Together with the client’s brief, the planning of the Stark house was conceived utilising the site’s natural topography and mature trees at the back of the site. As such, it is apparent that the living spaces in the house turn away from the front where the view is that of neighbouring houses, a common consequence of landed housing estates such as this. Instead, it faces the back of the house where the greenery provides a private, green sanctuary.
The site topography was taken advantage of to create a basement nook that opens out to the green. Combined with the outdoor swimming pool, the basement nook – hardly perceived as a basement – becomes the focal point of family activities and outdoor entertainment.
On the first storey, the planning sought to maximise the porosity through the site, revealing the view towards the greenery at the back. Designing for porosity was also a response to the site constraint, a strategy to make the site appear deeper than it actually is. As one approaches the house through the long driveway, s/he is not confronted with a blank wall or garage that abruptly terminates one’s movement, but greeted with a green expanse that is welcoming both to the inhabitants and visitors alike. The entrance experience – a particular interest in our studio’s oeuvre – is enhanced. Besides enabling effective cross ventilation vital for our climate, the openness allows for borrowed views as well as daylight to filter into the living room.