CZARL Architects designs 3ASH House, a brutalist-style bungalow that resembles a tiered village
One good class bungalow composed of a series of interconnected villas. This sums up a project by Czarl Architects in Singapore’s prime residential neighbourhood of District 11. Sited at the junction of two roads on a fan-shaped, multi-tiered, 989.4sqm plot that slopes up from the front to the rear, the house, which has individual units elevated on the different levels, is reminiscent of a stacked village.
The clients – a doctor and his wife – wanted a multi-generational, modern family home that would embrace the lush vistas of the surrounding neighbourhood. They asked that their house have a masculine form and bold architectural silhouette with a bunker-like look. They also requested a focus on natural materials for the construction.
Carl Lim, Principal of Czarl Architects, responded to the clients’ brief with a brutalist-style, two-story house that includes a basement and attic, spread across 1,133.19sqm. The 1960s-inspired architecture is characterised by angular shapes and a focus on minimalist, over decorative, aesthetics. Lim and his team also tailored the design to address Singapore’s tropical climate with a deep verandah and latticework aluminium screen as a sunshade. Plenty of green landscaped areas were included to increase a sense of seclusion for the interior spaces.
“The starting point was to consider the challenge posed by the site, which comprises multi-tier terraces. These considerations suggest a design strategy that requires the house to be broken up into a series of interconnected smaller dwelling units, distributed across the uneven natural and man-made topography,” says Lim.
“The architectural strategy of stacking the ‘kampong’ strata vertically also allowed the property to take full advantage of the site by creating multiple layers of the habitable soft and hard landscape beyond its original limited natural ground.”
Because of the sites’ unusual triangular fan shape, the concept of sprawling villas made the most sense. By employing a stacked village typology, Lim could break up the conventional singular massing of the bungalow into a series of interconnected smaller dwelling units and distribute them loosely on a man-made landscape.
To surmount the challenge of limited outdoor areas, Lim and his team created an additional landscaped section on the elevated second and attic levels. “This way, each separated unit of the house can be experienced as a little villa sprawling out on each floor,” says Lim.
These additional landscaped areas include a lap-pool with multiple courtyards on the second floor, and a sky garden-like planter deck on the attic level. The swimming pool and attic planter deck, located in the foreground of the house, provide a sense of seclusion to the recessed bedroom villas. At the same time, an adjustable aluminium screen for the pool, along with dense trees, enhance the overall sense of visual privacy, while also filtering out noise from the road.
The sky gardens and long planters that loop around the house form a horizontal ribbon that breaks down the wide massing of the architecture, and double up as sun shading. They also visually connect the different sections of the house through the repetition of green sections.
“In terms of composition, the house is read as a vertically stacked, horizontal concrete strata, which shelters either greenery or a swimming pool. The opening between each stratum is visually covered by a façade latticed aluminium screen, which keeps the heat from the western sun out. The aluminium fins on the latticed screen offer a scaled-down detailing that acts as a counterpoint to the uncompromising hard edge of the concrete strata,” says Lim.
Internally, the house’s social zone includes a basement, where the main foyer, lift foyer, a gym, powder room and entertainment room are located, and a first floor with a secondary foyer and piano lounge. These two levels are connected via a spiral staircase.
The private areas are contained within the second level and the attic level. On the second level are three ensuite bedrooms, a sauna, swimming pool and pool lounge, and a family room. On the attic level is the master bedroom which includes a bathroom, wardrobe, TV area, pantry, study and sky garden.
The material choices – fair-faced concrete, latticed aluminium screen and granite – used for the façade, gives the house its masculine, bunker-like aesthetics, while ensuring the exterior and outdoor areas are easy to maintain.
In contrast, the interior of the house has a warmer palette of timber veneer, a lighter colour palette and softer lines. Solar panels on the roof, lush greenery and the latticed aluminium screen mitigate heat gain, while deep overhanging verandahs optimise natural ventilation and reduce the need for air conditioning.
“Each floor is essentially composed of smaller habitable units organised around landscape, greenery, courtyards or water features. The separation but interconnectedness of each part of the smaller dwelling units enables users to experience optimal privacy and comfort of a sanctuary as they navigate the house both horizontally and vertically,” says Lim.