Daylight and breezes are an integral part of Cascade House’s architecture by ZIVY Architects

Daylight and breezes are an integral part of Cascade House’s architecture by ZIVY Architects

Daylight and breezes are an integral part of Cascade House’s architecture by ZIVY Architects

Is it possible for a residence to be invisible yet stand out at the same time? It definitely feels that way with Cascade House in District 15, designed by ZIVY Architects. A narrow frontage of 6.1m means it is easy to miss it or mistake it as part of its neighbours. Look closer though and realisation will dawn that it is in fact beautifully composed. 

Like a game of Tetris, the façade has two right-angled, folded enclosures on the first and top floors, and a peekaboo vertical screen made from timber grain and powder-coated aluminium square hollow sections covering a third of the second level. Curtain Creeper climbers are strategically planted along the third level, hanging down like a stylish fringe would on a statuesque model. It is obvious how the project got its name, what with the tiered effect of the exterior and the drapers flowing down. 

“The façade design of the house is an aesthetically crafted response to a very functional set of requirements,” reveals Evy Sutjahjo, who is the Co-Founder of ZIVY Architects. “The folded enclosures clad with Burmese teak provide shade and rainwater protection, whereas the vertical screen offers visual privacy to the bedroom behind. We dare say that in the end, all parts of the façade serve a purpose.”

Creating this stemmed from the brief of the owners, a young couple, who asked for the building to be modernised, even as the structural shell was retained, including an existing central staircase core. It had to yield economic sense too. Most importantly, the house was to be spacious, well-ventilated and well-lit. 

These are common enough requirements in Singapore but made more challenging in this case because of the terrace house typology, standing on a relatively small, 152.5sqm plot of land. 

Still, it did not deter Sutjahjo, who shares that she and her team worked with 3D models extensively to “review the experience of the spaces in relation to possible landscaping and strategic views”. A concern was a tall condominium development looming over the site in the back that risked invading the owners’ privacy. 

In coming up with a new layout, Loh Zixu, the other Co-Founder of the practice, realised that a triple-volume void, positioned beside the staircase, would help fulfil the brief requirements. It would also allow the natural breeze to flow into every floor, even as it splits the house into two parts and more clearly defines the different areas. 

“It wasn’t difficult to convince the owners of this, in exchange for more ‘liveable’ room space. The benefits of added sunlight and better airflow transform the experience of the house, and results in the rest of the surrounding spaces around it being more ‘liveable’,” says Loh.  

Other plus points: the staircase is now well-lit and there are visual connections across levels while moving through the corridors. Sightlines are also soothed by the mix of drapers and low-maintenance indoor plants staggered around the central atrium. 

In terms of space allocation, a standard layout was used. The ground floor is open-plan style to maximise the sense of spaciousness. The front is the living room and the rear, the dining room and kitchen. 

On the second floor, there are two ensuite bedrooms – one each at the front and rear too – and a small study. Full-height windows let in light and in the room in the front, the shadow of the vertical screen in the morning creates a chiaroscuro effect. 

The third level houses the master bedroom, which has sliding doors that open into the stairwell to encourage airflow and light. Across from it, another set of full-height sliding doors lead out to the roof terrace. There, one of the folded enclosures offers enough shade to locate a workout zone. “The ‘pouring down’ effect of the sun from the attic, down into the atrium and through the lower storeys within also contributed to the project name,” adds Sutjahjo.

The master bathroom, which faces the towering residential block behind, is landscaped with thick greenery to “act as a visual and noise buffer”. Additionally, the large-format tiles, the Infinity engineered surface by Kstone, coupled with the custom-made, long washbasin with his-and-hers faucets, gives a touch of luxe to the space. 

Says Sutjahjo, “A house should offer comfort at the end of the day, and we are glad that the owners are able to enjoy an airy and bright modern house, without having to demolish everything and rebuild from scratch.”

Talk about a cascading effect.