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33 Holland Park, Singapore
The design by Jean-Francois Milou, the founder and principal architect of studioMilou, begins with the conservation of a 1930s colonial residence in Singapore, and expands seamlessly from there into layers of contemporary living and outdoor spaces and landscaping, catering to a multi-generational family.
The original house’s site consisted of 2,000 square meters of broadly triangular-shaped land with a heritage-listed bungalow built of brick masonry with a wooden frame. Key challenges were to transform the unusual land shape and conservation limitations of the existing site into a home combining diverse living areas while conveying a sense of expansiveness and spatial harmony.
A house of views
33 Holland Park is a house of views. From each of the house’s hallways and common areas are views which traverse and link one space to another, the main residence and the conservation house. Large glass windows frame the intense foliage at every opportunity, the still, rich greenery working with the palette of stone and polished Burmese teak of the walls and floors. From the landscaped roof of the new building, tree tops of surrounding gardens dominate, and discreetly contain the monumental nature of the design.
A winding path of abundant foliage
The project overcame the limits imposed by the land’s shape and the existing conservation house with a design giving a sense of transparency and fluidity between the old and new buildings, between interior and exterior. The outer wall of the new structure is a paravent-like wall system, consisting of rising screens opening onto a wide path, winding around the site and lined with vegetation that ventures over the path and the neighbouring properties. A feeling that the house expands into the garden and that the garden inhabits the house is accentuated by the closeness of plants to the house’s closed surfaces. Dense foliage caresses the many glass surfaces of the house, and towers to the second-floor spaces.
A private place
Upon entering the house from the street, the visitor is unaware of the monumental scale of the new house, covered as it is by vegetation and carefully designed proportions aimed at avoiding any stark comparison with the one-storey conservation house. The conservation house serves as the key reception area and kitchen, through which one passes to the new residence, the door of which is aligned with the exit of the former. A rectangular pool lines the outer paravent walling of the new house, the water and green-grey tiles softening the visual links between the conservation house and the new structures.
Unifying materials, colours
The simplicity of the conservation house’s interior – white ceilings and walls, uncluttered furnishings – adds to a sense of openness towards the exterior. Warm teak floors throughout both buildings offer a sense of unity and complement the ever-present foliaging towards and into the house from all angles.
The materials chosen for the exterior, including grey glass-reinforced concrete columns and stainless steel, have been composed in such a way as to play with the colours of the vegetation and to accentuate the impression of an architecture which is transparent and in conversation with the trees and light. The reflections and movement of the pool’s water, set off by the soft grey-green stone tiles, contribute to the play of light and life, and seem to belong equally to both houses.
House in a garden, concept sketch by Jean-Francois Milou, studioMilou, 2008