Back in the day, when Singapore started to develop rapidly, there was a phrase that became popularly known, the five Cs that pertain to “cash, car, credit card, condo, and country club.” Its origin started from an observational joke about the goals of the locals for a better life status and it has also captured the growing materialism within the country. Thinking about it, this mindset is not only evident to Singapore but to all other developing Southeast Asian nations as well. Over the years, these have changed a lot and today, the new five Cs are “cash, career, cultural proficiency, credibility, and convenience”. The new rationale of the five Cs shows the significant shift in thinking and goals from a materialistic outlook to one encouraged by personal growth. And this is the ultimate goal of the owners of the Strata House, to give their children a conducive place where they can grow, mature and be prepared holistically to face adult life.

Located in the Northeast district of Singapore is the head turner Strata House that showcases an unconventional look of a contemporary residence within the confines of a corner block and is in close proximity to its neighbors. The design team led by architect Raymond Hoe from Scott Brownrigg+ Singapore Studio, strategically optimized the size of the house footprint as it sits on a constrained 468 sqm narrow, corner rectilinear plot. Envisioning the house as strata, or a series of layers of rock, for in this case the rock can be referred as the living spaces, the intriguing lot was the basis of how the strata will develop horizontally and vertically. The accessibility of the living spaces from the outside and transitions within the inside spaces were one of the key design considerations in this project. Finished in 2020, the semi-detached house consists of 3 floors, complete with graciously sized spaces that allows for comfortable, timeless contemporary family living while giving priority to safe and enjoyable spaces for children and its suitable for the existing tropical climatic conditions.

Viewing from the rear, Strata House is truly a one-of-a-kind tropical modernist and contemporary house.
The not-so-conventional façade already tells the onlookers that this is an extraordinary house.
The absence of windows enhances its contemporary look even more.

The layering of the bends also provides an additional area on the inside and volume to the outside.
A statement staircase like this, made of concrete, wood, and steel, will always be part of any house’s highlight.

The overall concept for the house was, “The design is inspired by a play on horizontal strata that slits and peels in two from a common datum plane. This defines the second storey semi-private spaces that include the family foyer which visually connects to the first storey living areas. Forming a series of pragmatic spaces that are conducive to encouraging family time together”, architect Raymond Hoe explains. Having established the distribution of spaces and the number of floors needed, the next concern to address is privacy. The design approach was to totally limit the opening on the front side, only allowing an optimum size for glazing, and all fenestrations are concentrated on the more private sides such as at the right and rear ones. The continuous metallic aluminum bent roof from the front that freely extends all the way towards the rear was the perfect solution from the said consideration.

Entering the property, residents and guests are welcomed by the spacious shaded finished area good for hanging out with steps on the right and the path leading to the garden at the back ushered by the luscious greens. Upon setting one’s foot inside the house, you’ll walk thru a foyer, passing by a dedicated walk-in cabinet for shoes and umbrellas, then comes the powder room and at the end is the elegant well-lighted staircase. On the right is the seamless transition of the living spaces, from the kitchen counter to the dining and the living area. The openness of the living area truly gives the residents such a roomy space to lounge. Having high ceiling, full-height glass windows with additional glass clerestory windows maximize the entry of natural light and ventilation that can also be experienced in both the dining and kitchen areas.

High ceiling never fails to create welcoming spaces.
It’s always a relaxing feeling to come home to a spacious and minimalistic style of the living room.
An interesting injection of playful spaces suitable for both children and adults. 
A simple bedroom accented with full-height glass window for that natural light and ventilation creates
the warmth and coziness of what resting is should be even during the day.

The second-floor houses all the bedrooms with their own private toilet and baths. Also, the unique feature on this floor was the incorporation of the soft steel matting that is like a stationary hammock on a three-step platform which gives a whole new interpretation of spaces for family time and bonding. This area also serves as a semi-open ceiling for the foyer below. On the other side of the platform is the space-saving one-step platform that serves both as a ledge for viewing the living area below and also as storage areas divided into three drawers. Going up the third floor is where the entertainment area of the family is. From the entertainment area, the amazing form of the bent of the roof is also followed by the ceiling which gives a different elegance to the house interiors. The other half of the third floor contains another bedroom and service areas like the laundry and outdoor space for the air conditioner condensing units.

Overall, the house was created with a palette of materials that includes off-formed concrete textures, timber grains, and industrial steel matte luster creating a backdrop for daylight and play of shadows. The raw and honest material selection reflects design characteristics that are contemporary and timeless. Neutral and warm hues of mocha, cream, and charcoal give life and coziness to the interior spaces. Also, the luxurious furniture selection with combination touches of leather and timber pieces in various spaces completes the level of elegance the house wants to achieve.

The combination of forms, symmetry and intricate details truly makes Strata House stand out.

Of course, one wouldn’t miss the most enticing feature of the house, its so-called “architectural veil”. These aluminum louvers provide the needed privacy from the bedrooms on the second floor and the family area on the third floor without compromising views to the outside. It also allows the absorption of heat for thermal conduction thus creating air movement and ventilation into the rooms. Another is that it deflects the tremendous direct heat gain of that harsh afternoon sun in a tropical setting. 

Like what Kate Angell, an American author said, “Outer beauty attracts, but inner beauty captivates.” This is how the Strata House is. A truly eye-catching contemporary architecture with unique exterior aesthetics and that the more you are immersed in its interior spaces, the more you are bound to an enjoyable, pleasing and satisfying way of living.

Article Credits: 

All Drawings by Scott Brownrigg+ (Singapore Studio) ©

All Images by Khoo Guo Jie ©

Download this month's BLUPRINT magazine digital copy from:
Subscribe via [email protected]