Contemporary tropical city house with teak cladding, lap pool, spiral stairs

Modern tropical house by Ong & Ong features split granite wall, entry across reflection pool, lap pool, spiral staircase, indoor-outdoor living

Story by: Colleen Hawkes
Sculptural trees and lush planting create an idyllic architecture, estate, facade, home, house, houseplant, plant, property, real estate, roof, tree
Sculptural trees and lush planting create an idyllic outlook for this house designed by Ong&Ong. On the far left, the land drops away, so basement rooms can also open up to the landscape.

In a city where land is at a premium, it's a luxury to be able to design a new house around mature trees on site.

The extra-large size of this Singapore property and the position of two 100-year-old rain trees not only made such a design possible; it also influenced every aspect of the architecture.

The house, designed by architects Maria Arango and Diego Molina of Ong&Ong, was positioned at one end of the 2000m² site.

"This maximised the view of a ficus tree and the rain trees, which have a very sculptural form," says Arango. "It also meant we could have a strip of lawn in front of the trees, which enhances the outlook and ensures the trees don't drop too many of their fine leaves into the pool."

Creating an attractive and private outdoor living area was another priority. This helped to determine the decision to create a long stone wall that forms a key axis parallel to the boundary.

"We chose granite because we wanted something organic and textural that would be a strong landscape feature," says Arango. "The wall features vertical panels of split slate, cut from the end blocks of the stone. Vertical slots allow light to pass through. They also provide glimpses of the view beyond without compromising privacy."

Arango says the client wanted a very clean-lined, contemporary house, with a design that wouldn't date.

"It was important that the house would not be able to be attributed to a specific period."


Sculptural trees and lush planting create an idyllic architecture, ceiling, daylighting, estate, home, house, interior design, product design, stairs, wood, white
Sculptural trees and lush planting create an idyllic outlook for this house designed by Ong&Ong. On the far left, the land drops away, so basement rooms can also open up to the landscape.

The architecture recalls Modernist themes with strong horizontal lines and extensive glazing. The upper level is clad in teak wood and glass, and framed by a deep band of white stone.

"The top storey is a more monolithic element, which provides a strong contrast to the transparent, glass-walled base of the house," says Molina. "The heavy upper floor appears to float above the ground."

The formal entry to the house passes through the granite wall, but the pathway first crosses a bridge over a reflection pool.

"We wanted the entry to be quite processional," Molina says. "The bridge invites you to step over towards the front door. The entry is also very deep, with stone wrapping around both sides, so there is a strong sense of passing through a portal."

The main entry opens up to a large living room, with a sculptural spiral staircase in the foreground. With its solid balustrading, the staircase acts as a screen, shielding the living room from the front entry. It also anchors the space visually, and forms a dramatic backdrop for the interior.

As with all new houses designed by Ong&Ong, the home has a close connection with the landscape.

"Blurring the transition between inside and out is a trademark of our residential architecture," says Arango. "We always like to emphasise the tropicality of our projects. Removing the barriers between inside and out also makes the spaces feel much larger."

The architect says the owners can enjoy the landscape more readily when there is a seamless flow between the interior and outdoors.

This entry to a room on the lower architecture, ceiling, house, interior design, living room, real estate, room, table, white
This entry to a room on the lower level of a large contemporary home features a bridge across a reflection pool. It creates a deep portal into the house.

"It is not the same looking out through glass," she says. "With the doors open, it's also possible to create cross ventilation, so the breezes pass through the house, doing away with the need for constant air conditioning."

White marble floors feature throughout the ground floor. These flow out to teak decks and a long lap pool with a Jacuzzi at one end on the other side of a stepping stone bridge that leads to the lawn and the rain trees. An imported Japanese bonsai tree and a large sculpture that echoes the form of the spiral staircase are additional focal points in the landscape.

Natural materials are much in evidence, both inside and out. The dry kitchen features a mix of stained pine wood cabinetry and gleaming white lacquer. All the cabinets have recessed pulls so the streamlined look is maintained. The split-level island incorporates a pine wood table and a chunky marble work counter.

Marble also appears in the master and guest bathrooms, which both feature walls and floors lined in silver travertine.

In contrast to the smooth marble, the guest bathroom has a split granite wall behind the vanity, which gives the space a raw, organic look. This room is beside the entry to the house, so the designers added timber slats to the outside of the window, for privacy.

Bathrooms throughout the house have cantilevered timber vanities and mirrored medicine cabinets. The master suite also features a large freestanding bathtub, which reinforces the sense of luxury evident at every turn.

Jan 12, 2015

Credit list

Architect
Maria Arango, Diego Molina, Ong&Ong (Singapore)
Flooring
Crema Katerina marble; teak
Hardware
Olivari Total from Homewerks
Dry kitchen appliances
Miele
Bathtub
Boffi Sabbia Monoblock in White Cristal Plant
Vanities
Boffi Iceland with Boffi Cut mixer
Feature wall in guest bathroom
Split-finish yellow rustic granite
Supplier
Boffi products from P5
Cladding
Granite; teak
Outdoor sculpture
The Trinity by Christophe Gordon-Brown
Kitchen cabinets
Pine wood; lacquer
Bathroom tiles in master bathroom
Silver travertine, with split-finish grey granite in shower and toilet cubicles
Bathtub mixer
Boffi Minimal
Mirrors
Boffi Zone
Guest bathroom vanity
Boffi Box basin with Boffi Wings mixer
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