Metre Architects transforms this semi-detached house in Sin Ming with a nature-inspired material palette

Metre Architects transforms this semi-detached house in Sin Ming with a nature-inspired material palette

Metre Architects transforms this semi-detached house in Sin Ming with a nature-inspired material palette

When Metre Architect’s Woon Chung Yen first entered this semi-detached house in Sin Ming, he was floored. Yawning open from left to right was a 15.3m-long interior, leading him to think, “Oh my goodness, what am I going to do with this whole volume of space? How will I animate it?” 

Although in charge only of designing the interiors, Woon was quick to fall back on his architecture training. He immediately recognised the opportunity to anchor the linear space by establishing an axial order. Onto this he planned the living and dining areas, under which a 13m customised carpet would run. Overhead, a double-light channel on the ceiling also emphasises this. 

It certainly helped that the brief was simple, “basically just making the interiors of the common areas look good”, he shares. Woon went on to focus on materiality, most notably the use of natural and man-made materials to clad the surfaces and make the furniture and fittings. The most striking is the sandstone feature wall, alongside the living room and part of the dining area. 

In coming up with these solutions, he has demonstrated that with just a bit of imagination and thought, it is possible to renovate an existing house and turn it into a design-driven home – even one that is on a 607sqm plot first conceptualised to maximise its interior floor area.

Semi-detached house in Sin Ming by Metre Architects
The expansive 14m-long interior of the semi-detached house that makes up the ground floor. It has been articulated by a 13m-long, customised carpet and double-light channel on the ceiling.

Walls of stone

“I think if I had been interior design-trained, I would start with the planning of the materiality, without taking in the inherent spatial or geometrical order,” explains Woon, when asked how he approached the project he has aptly named Inward Nature. “My architectural training led me to find a spatial order first and then everything comes up around it.” 

It was only after determining the layout that he turned his attention to the details. Of these, the most eye-catching is the sandstone feature wall. “It was quite a rare opportunity for us to use it,” he adds, elaborating that the quality is not always consistent or high enough to use in home interiors. The decision was therefore made to apply it on the largest surface area available. 

Semi-detached house in Sin Ming by Metre Architects, sandstone wall joinery
Some of the veins on the sandstone are reminiscent of fog rolling across the mountains.

Considerable effort was spent trying to arrange the slabs in a way that would make an interesting composition. This involved going so far as to photograph each 25mm-thick piece and, with the help of the computer, ensure they could be joined so that the timber-like veins flowed relatively seamlessly. “This was our way of letting the material animate the space,” says Woon. 

To avoid it becoming too monolithic and to give it a playful touch, he clad the wall behind the television with unfilled travertine instead. The end result is a change of tonality and texture, yet still keeping a consistency in the primary colour and horizontal elements.

To avoid the space becoming too monolithic and give it a playful touch, Woon clad the wall behind the television with unfilled travertine instead.

Eye for detail

A touch of poetry is found on the wall opposite the sandstone one. This is made up of a composition of LED-lit circles and rectangles using acoustic panels from Kvadrat, covered in parts with Japanese forest-themed textiles with a jacquard weave. 

Together with the design of the blue-toned carpet, they act as a spatial interpretation of the Tang Dynasty poem “The Round Sun Sets Beside the Long River” by Wang Wei. In addition to levelling up the aesthetics of the space, the solution also counterbalances the hard surfaces in the same area. 

Semi-detached house in Sin Ming by Metre Architects, Kvadrat acoustic wall
A composition of LED-lit circles and rectangles using acoustic panels from Kvadrat counterbalances the hard surfaces.

Other noteworthy contributions by Woon include the American black walnut slab that makes up the dining table. This was chosen to complement the sandstone. Another is the console behind the sofa, customised and constructed with walnut veneer and metallic details favoured by the owner. The same material is used for the dining table legs, for consistency. 

In fact, nothing escapes his eye, including the coffee table made just for this house, with its handcrafted, black-and-white mother-of-pearl top. Even the solid brass door handles are designed, their unusual disc shape standing out or blending in depending on the colour used (gold for the front, white for the back). 

Woon also had a hand in the design of the dry kitchen, where he went with a monochromatic scheme. Engineered quartz from Caesarstone was used for the countertops. “We felt that after using all the rich materials, we should go with a more neutral palette to avoid having colours everywhere,” he shares. 

Semi-detached house in Sin Ming by Metre Architects, dry kitchen
The dry kitchen has a more neutral palette, achieved by using black-and-white engineered quartz.

There was only minimal intervention on the upper floor, with inputs from him at the entrance of the master bedroom via a fluted, translucent screen. In the children’s rooms, he used timber-patterned laminates for the built-in carpentry to reinforce their continuity with the veins of the sandstone on the ground floor.

Semi-detached house in Sin Ming by Metre Architects, master bedroom
A fluted, translucent screen affords the entrance to the master bedroom some privacy.

Unsurprisingly, the family has been revelling in how beautiful their home has become, where hints of nature are liberally scattered everywhere through the use of different materials. More significantly, this project is a timely reminder that renovating a home with the right designer can actually result in a perfectly liveable space. 

Categories
Words
Pictures
Date