House of Trees

MERIT AWARD

Award Category: Residential Projects

Architecture Firm:

L Architects

Project Architect:

Lim Shing Hui

Year Completed:

2022

Builder Firm:

Jetco Construction Pte Ltd

The plot was gifted by an elderly couple to their two sons, who decided to demolish their childhood home to rebuild it into two semi-detached houses living as neighbours. Growing up in this house, they were well aware of the undesirable context. The site faces a six-lane traffic condition that has no view.

It was challenging to bring that spirit of respite, liveability and tranquillity into the space but we knew we had to come up with a design strategy that could better respond to its surroundings than create a hermetic shell. We asked: can we create a great indoor space without having a great outdoor?

Living in the tropics equates to having abundant rain and sunlight. Trees and plants thrive well on these elements. Naturally, they are also excellent shields for both the eastern and western sun while providing pleasant views. As such, nature was selected as a “building material” to form a porous living façade.

Landed houses typically have a predictable outlook where one is able to deduce the number of storeys simply from the placement of windows. In order to break that sterility, we varied the placements of the planter boxes. This creates an interesting ambiguity. With the differing planter heights, you are able to appreciate different parts of the tree such as the crown, trunk and the underside of certain leaves which differ in colours and patterns from the top.

It is easy to forget that the site is indeed situated in the midst of a traffic buzz when the thoughtfully framed view of the verdant wall appears across daily domestic scenes.

The green façade is a strong singular idea that is able to address many issues not just for its occupants but also for contributing to the neighbourhood streetscape.

Jury Citation

The Jury acknowledges the success of the House of Trees lies in the architect’s re-contextualising of the urban surroundings of a residence through the use of deep, occupiable, lush landscaped balconies. Through design, this green buffer offers sun shading, respite and new uses to its inhabitants. There is also interest in the way the duplex was planned, allowing for connections between two households.