Artistroom sensitively renovates an apartment in Pandan Valley

Artistroom sensitively renovates an apartment in Pandan Valley

Artistroom sensitively renovates an apartment in Pandan Valley

Pandan Valley ranks among one of the first and most iconic condominium developments in Singapore. Designed by pioneer generation architect Tan Cheng Siong and completed in 1979, it is part of the country’s precious stock of modernist buildings that seems to be fast disappearing, despite calls to conserve them. 

It is therefore heartening to learn about homeowners who not only appreciate such developments’ heritage, but also encourage their interior designer to respect it in the renovation process – as this one did with Artistroom

One of the distinctive characteristics of Pandan Valley is how the units were conceptualised to have the feel of a landed house. The result is expansive spaces and selected ones with layouts that span multiple floors. It is precisely these features that attracted the owners to purchase an apartment there. 

“They had sold their landed house and were looking for a condominium unit that was equivalent in terms of square feet to their previous home,” says Katy Chong, who is the Senior Spatial Designer of Artistroom and runs the practice with her husband Mark Chen. Among the boxes it ticked was its size of about 3,000sqft and split levels internally and between the three outdoor terraces.

Pandan Valley apartment by Artistroom, foyer
The Pandan Valley apartment is so extensive it has two living rooms.

A clean canvas

Under Chong’s direction, the interiors were completely gutted, including the hacking of several walls to reconfigure the spaces. Permanently living there are the husband-and-wife owners and their adult son. Their daughter, who has her own marital home, occasionally swings by. Rooms therefore had to be provided for everyone, with a slightly bigger one for the son and an enlarged master suite. 

To cater to the family’s love for cooking and entertaining, the lower floor saw the conversion of a bedroom into a dining room, and the former dining room into a dry kitchen with an island. Preceding the wet kitchen and access to the yard are a set of three fridges concealed behind customised carpentry, demonstrating how serious they are about the culinary arts. Because there is no dedicated storeroom, Chong had to come up with creative ways to insert pockets of storage space throughout the apartment. 

From an aesthetics standpoint, there is visual coherence throughout, thanks to a monochrome palette of grey and cream. “Being elderly, the owners prefer the idea of a clean space, which is why the interiors are very white,” explains Chong. This effect is amplified through large-format (1.2m by 0.6m), stone-like homogenous tiles on the floor. In the dining area and kitchen, an acrylic-based, matt-finish, off-white laminate is used for the carpentry. 

If this seems like a maintenance nightmare, the converse is, in fact, true. With no live-in helper, the owners do the cleaning themselves and have found Chong’s solutions to be viable. It also explains the decision to use wood only as an accent, “introduced into the environment to create softness”, she adds. 

Another bonus of the light-and-bright formula is how it makes an ideal backdrop for the owners to display the paintings and sculptures they have amassed in their travels. For instance, the long corridor that connects the three bedrooms doubles as a painting gallery. A plain wall by the dining area hangs the sculpture of a fish. 

Respectful of the past

Within the bedrooms, Chong points out design elements introduced to complement the occupants’ needs. In the son’s room, there is a display for his shoes and a dedicated section for his fitness equipment. The bathroom of the master suite has a his-and-hers sink and shower screen in place of curtains. 

A wonderful feature of this apartment is the outdoor terrace, split into three distinct sections. They are so sizeable that they measure approximately the same area as the three bedrooms. Chong introduced a pantry for two parts, as well as outdoor dining sets. The owners now enjoy breakfast al fresco every morning, weather permitting, and, when family and friends come over, they are hosted there as well. 

Undoubtedly, this is one of the highlights of owning a unit in Pandan Valley. Others include the abundant cross ventilation and natural daylight. “When we did up the project, our train of thought was to ensure we did not restrict the airflow by building too many things around the apartment,” says Chong. 

She was also careful to respect the functionality of the spaces, which was something she felt that the original architect delineated quite clearly, “There are dedicated, sizeable areas for the different purposes of a home. This is unlike many newer developments where the tendency is towards making the spaces flexible for multiple uses – usually because they’re small.”

That the owners understood and bought into the philosophy was something Chong was happy about. In thoughtfully updating the apartment, while respecting the property’s historical context, she has sensitively delivered a solution that can continue to stand the test of time.