Built for the generations

Businessman Michael Mun, his wife and three sons have been living on this property for over two decades, during which the family grew in size, with the sons starting their own families.

Mr Mun, 69, says: “Despite the size of the land, the old house had a built-up area of only about 6,000 sq ft and five bedrooms. The layout was also not ideal and natural ventilation and light were limited.”

This prompted him to redevelop the home – a Good Class Bungalow in Old Holland Road – to better accommodate the needs of the extended household.

His sons are in their 30s to 40s and his five grandchildren are aged four to 10.

The multi-generational family home project was undertaken by home-grown design architect firm Inte Architects, in collaboration with Kung & Tan Architects as the project architect.

In his brief to the architects, Mr Mun requested a house with a north-south orientation, good natural cross-ventilation and ample room for his grandchildren to play in.

The original house was demolished and rebuilt, with the design process taking over two years and the construction, more than a year. The family moved into the new home in March last year, after the $9-million project was completed.

Inspired by the works of Belgian architect Juliaan Lampens, which feature the extensive use of off-form concrete, Mr Chan Loo Siang, design principal of Inte Architects, proposed a scheme comprising two concrete boxes connected by a link bridge overlooking a pool.

“I chose concrete for its sense of permanence and solidity that conveys a massiveness and robustness, but in a fluid and malleable way,” says Mr Chan. “I love that it appears brutal, yet softens under natural lighting.”

The concrete expression also has a symbolic meaning that reinforces the multi-generation concept.

The block in front is finished in an off-form timber textured concrete, while the rear block uses fair-faced concrete.

This distinction alludes to a parent-and-child relationship between the two orthogonal volumes that are independent yet attached.

Mr Chan says: “There is also an architectural dialogue between the darker grey, more rustic and tropical off-form timber textured concrete, and the light grey, almost white, fair-faced concrete that has a more populist and Japanese style.”

Much thought has also been put into the design of the circulation, which responds to both the brief and the 15,153 sq ft site. The house sits on a sloping terrain.

Mr Chan turned this constraint into an opportunity and conceived a circulation that weaves together the horizontal and vertical axes.

A series of corridors, walkways, decks, link bridges, platforms and balconies makes linkages on the horizontal plane. Openings on the facade visually reinforce the connections, while enhancing natural cross-ventilation.

Vertically, the circulation is conveyed through elements such as staircases, lifts and skylights.

The driveway located on higher ground leads to the entrance foyer on the upper first storey.

This home has a split-level first storey, with the main living and dining areas and the pool deck situated on the lower first storey.

The bedrooms and family room are on the second storey.

A dramatic bridge shaped like a horseshoe sweeps above the entrance foyer, reinforcing the notion of an intricate web of spaces, volumes that orchestrate movement within the home in a continuous loop.

“The occupants can move seamlessly throughout the home and there are no dead corners. Every space and room is well-connected to the rest of the house, even in the basement,” says Mr Chan.

For Mr Mun, his greatest joy lies in having a new home amid a familiar setting – one that is large enough to accommodate three generations comfortably, where they can spend time together as a family, while respecting everyone’s need for privacy.

• This article first appeared in the April issue of Home & Decor, which is published by SPH Magazines.

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(Above left) Elements such as staircases and corridors complement the circulation concept in the house. (Above right) The double-volume living room lets plenty of light into the space, which is where family members spend time together. (Left) The ent