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DW-House, Bukit Timah, Singapore

Wednesday 04 Jan 2012

West meets East

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Award Entry

ONG&ONG Pte Ltd design a testament to the marrying of western sensibilities with asian aesthetics 

The key reference point for DW-House, in the ‘good-class bungalow' district of Bukit Timah, is the colonial black and white bungalow, a culturally distinctive element in the architectural continuum of Singapore. The intention was to reinterpret the said monochromatic icon whilst not compromising on modern comforts, as evident in the construction of a contemporary two-storey block. As such, the overall concept uses the colonial bungalow as a vestigial blueprint, but ultimately creates a house that transcends the plane of imitation.

The marrying of classic and contemporary, Asian and Western influences, and the fundamental balance of black and white culminates in an aesthetic that balances binary oppositions. In the spirit of its colonial muse, parallel corridors on each side of the main house create symmetrical double entrances, while promoting cross-ventilation. Though the layout of the traditional black and white is strictly plotted on an axis, the design draws on this architectural language and reworks it to fit the programme of the house. Traditional motifs common in black and white houses are used sparingly, as evidenced on the columns supporting the portico and even then, are modernized with up-lights. The cornice that doubles as a curtain pelmet shows a similar minimal use of traditional embellishment, in this instance used for practical reasons.

The reinterpretation of tropical architecture reverberates throughout the scheme as seen in the classic white wood louvers that run along the second floor of the main house, promoting ventilation while acting as a distinctive style element, juxtaposing the black in true colonial bungalow fashion.

DW-House is a testament to the marrying of spatial sensitivity and stylistics, western sensibilities with asian aesthetics, and the tradition of the black and white with contemporary tropical architecture. Indeed, the house seamlessly brings together seemingly polarized elements under a framework that is governed by achieving both equilibrium and contrast, contextualized for a city that is equally diverse as itself.

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