Maps Design Studio reinvigorates this bungalow in Holland two decades after it first conceptualised it
Some 23 years ago, a two-storey, L-shaped bungalow was built atop one of the high points of the hilly Holland neighbourhood. Lived in by a family of four, it was conceptualised by Maps Design Studio and bore the aesthetic of a tropical resort that the practice is known for. Fast forward two decades and the same team was assembled and tasked to give the house a makeover.
Interestingly, while the assumption was that the brief would involve restructuring it to become a multi-generation home, it was in fact the opposite – to redesign it to accommodate the owners who have retired and enjoy entertaining.
“Now that their kids are all grown up with their own families, the house has fewer occupants. The project therefore became about how to reinvigorate the house,” says Tan Hock Beng, Principal of Maps.
In addition to replacing many of the building materials with newer, longer lasting ones, a two-storey block was added. The façade designs were also updated, with one section being expanded with rectilinear protrusions to create more liveable space.
The major thing that did not change was the zoning of the house that sits on a 12,163sqft plot. Explains Tan, “A lot of owners, after living in a house for many years, don’t really like something drastically new. If you are tasked to update it, you can make the spaces bigger and taller but have to be very sensitive to the way they move around.”
Designed for entertaining
The most significant alteration to the architecture is the insertion of a double-storey wing to the base of the L-shaped building footprint. It rises as tall as the main block and accommodates two dining areas on the lower floor, and the family room on the upper level.
The latter is remarkable for being a double-volume space that soars upwards for six metres. While it is new, it has become the most frequented part of the renovated house when the owners get together with their family. “It has the best view of the 25m lap pool too,” Tan points out.
He also reveals that there was some debate over whether the master suite should be shifted there but the idea was later canned to maintain the existing zoning, “The owners are so used to their room being at the front of the house and did not want to change that.”
Parties are now frequently hosted on the ground floor of the new block, which has a formal indoor and casual outdoor dining area and a barbecue pit. Doors can be kept open for when the headcount increases.
This dovetails with the seamless indoor-outdoor living design direction that the owners wanted and Tan is known for. Compounding this is the use of water elements in between the new and old block, which, as an interstitial space, doubles as the spill-over for when the owners are entertaining.
In the main wing, pivot doors were installed on the ground floor, making it easy for them to be kept open all day and night. All sight lines are directed to the elevated swimming pool, a prominent feature in the garden.
New but familiar
Another part of the makeover involved the updating of materials. For instance, everything on the façade that looks like timber is in fact aluminium, coloured to the tone of light teak. In the new wing, the same material is used to make the pivot windows, their light weight a boon for the occupants to open and shut them easily.
While the pool deck was previously made from chengal, the same wood used to make boats, favoured by the owners who love to sail, it has since been replaced with granite with gaps carefully inserted in between to allow rainwater to drain easily.
Additional glazing was added to the windows in the upper floors and some were expanded in size. The main reason for this is the west-facing direction of the frontage. “We have given the house a new technological boost to the traditional way of building,” remarks Tan.
Finally, the master suite also saw a significant overhaul. Previously just a rectangular box, it now has three rectilinear protrusions. On the outside, they are wrapped with strips of light teak-coloured aluminium, resembling the cummerbund of a tuxedo. Internally, it allowed the space to increase by approximately 30 percent, so that there is more real estate for the bathroom, study and bed.
Tan shares that despite the owners actually being “very happy with the original house”, they feel a “sense of renewal” following the renovation. “A homeowner updating their house is more interesting than building a new one,” he explains. “You understand your own needs better but get to freshen it up.”
Of course, there are also the environmental and financial savings. Adds Tan, “Given today’s construction costs, it makes sense. You get new, bigger spaces at a third of the price compared to if you tear down and rebuild.”