PRODUCTION PAULINE PRINSEN
Architect Soo K. Chan from Singapore has built a great many stunning projects in Asia and beyond. On Sentosa Island, Singapore, he and his SCDA Architects designed the Lo house.
The focal point of the house is the water feature mirroring the light reflected off the Singapore Strait. A home as fusion of modern Western and Asian architecture on the edge of the equator.
Singapore, like many other cities in Asia, is expanding by leaps and bounds. The big problem of this green island state is where to find good building locations. They are at a premium and that is the main reason for the city to extend its territory seawards. You used to have a view of the sea from the terrace of the Raffles Hotel, but those times are long gone. More and more land is being reclaimed from the sea and the island of Sentosa has not escaped the building explosion.
Originally Malays called the island ‘Pulau mati Belakang’ meaning ‘the island of death from behind’. Later the name changed to ‘Pulau Panlang’ or ‘long island’. In 1972 a competition held by the Singapore Tourist Promotion Board resulted in the new name, Sentosa Island: translating somewhat freely into ‘island of peace and tranquillity’.
Most of the island’s buildings at the end of the 19th century were British military barracks, but towards the end of the 20th century hotels were being built and the island became a green resort beside the sea.
Now large tracts have fallen prey to the building mania, and tranquillity no longer reigns supreme. The location holds a magical appeal for project developers, who have transformed much of the undeveloped land into residential enclaves and golf resorts.
Sentosa is also home to a remarkable product of the architect Soo K. Chan. He founded SCDA Architects in Singapore in 1995, a studio that since then has experienced rapid growth. Its creative activities cover the entire architectural range: private homes, condominiums, resorts and hotels, commercial projects, interiors and master-planning. And operations are pretty well world wide: from New York to Morocco and Algeria, from Dubai to India, and from Thailand via Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia to China and Australia.
For its designs, SCDA is guided primarily by the classical approach to scale and proportions, integrated in the local cultural and climatolo-gical conditions. The architects set great store by open floor plans and transparency, and adapt those ideals in line with the environment and culture in question.
For instance, they achieve transparency by the judicious placing of walls or partitions to define the various living and working areas, allowing spaces to flow in one another as much as possible.
That is certainly the case in the Lo house, an L-shaped volume set in a landscaped garden overlooking the Singapore Strait. From the street side, the wooden-slatted upper floor of the house seems to float above the lower floor which is composed of stone and concrete. The structure resembles a sunhat, the ‘brim’ of which affords shade to the ground-floor rooms. A symphony of powerful forms, accentuated by a large window, as well as a large canopy above the entrance. At the sea side of the house tranquillity prevails. There, light reflecting off the strait is further reflected in the rectangular pool with its two islands of trees which is flanked by the living room, kitchen and outside deck.
From the entrance there is a transition from hard to soft: from the concrete finish of the car porch to the intimacy of the living room, kitchen and dining area, all of which have delightful views of the garden, the long pavilion building and the sea. A staircase with a bright red wall has been planned midway between the kitchen and the living area; it leads up to the bedrooms on the first floor. Large expanses of glass on the garden side mean that the ground-floor rooms are all highly vis-ible from the pavilion – the architect has, moreover, successfully created cohesion between interior and exterior. Intimacy is reinforced by the uninterrupted wooden pool-deck and ubiquitous wooden building components. The Lo house was built by Huat Builders of Singapore.