Freight Architects

Freight Architects is a Singapore-based practice founded by three partners: Chen Kian Khiong, Tan Kian Teck and Kee Jing Zhi in 2013. Freight believes in collaboration. It believes that a building design is a collective synergy between different specialists to deliver the best architecture. In its works, it partners with artists, landscape architects, branding specialists, interior designers, lighting consultants and architects.

Since its inception, Freight has been involved in different scale of works, from private houses to villa resort developments, early learning institutions and even industrial buildings and masterplanning. The nature of its collaborative structure allows the team to be readily deployable to different project scales, from the smallest of houses to the largest of masterplans.

Freight Architects

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Q&A with Kee Jing Zhi, Freight Architects: There are a lot of interesting sites in Singapore where we can create unique projects

Q&A with Kee Jing Zhi, Freight Architects: There are a lot of interesting sites in Singapore where we can create unique projects

You’re one of a trio of partners that make up Freight Architects. How do you divide up the work among the three of you?   I lead most of the private residential projects, while my partners handle the ones in childcare, senior care and the industrial sector. We work as a team when there are bigger-scale projects.  You can juggle everything from the smallest of houses to the largest of master plans. This is quite unusual for a boutique-sized, local firm. How has this benefitted your practice?  The key is having partners with different skill sets, handling different parts of the project. I usually lead the design concept, while the other two are experts in managing the team and technical compliance. This setup allows us to come together for larger-scale projects or we break into teams for the smaller ones. The Sengkang Riverside Park Childcare Centre has been one of Freight‘s most defining projects to date. What are some key learning points you’ve realised as a result of working on it?  We designed this project in a week. The concept came very fast, as…

A terrace house by Freight Architects in Serangoon Gardens is inspired by shophouses and the Japanese concept of “oku”

A terrace house by Freight Architects in Serangoon Gardens is inspired by shophouses and the Japanese concept of “oku”

It certainly looks like someone parachuted a shophouse into a row of terrace houses in Serangoon Gardens. Even without hearing from the designer, Freight Architects, the architectural language of the residence clearly proclaims its inspiration. While the usual elaborate ornamentation found on them may be missing, the proportions, use of columns, simple pediment and spatial depth are all apparent.  “This house is a re-imagined shophouse,” confirms Kee Jing Zhi, one of the co-founders of Freight. “Elements of a typical shophouse were abstracted to their most basic forms.” Specifically, he sought direction from those in Penang and Malacca, as the owners had bought the long and narrow 340sqm plot after being reminded of them.  But Kee did not just let that define the project. He added his own spin to it to mitigate the living constraints of such types of land by turning to the Japanese spatial concept of “oku”. This is where a three-dimensional space is discovered and appreciated the further someone moves within it.  “We adopted the principle to create layers of pauses in a very deep terrace house,”…

Freight Architects designs a pair of semi-detached houses near MacRitchie Reservoir Park each with a unique theme

Freight Architects designs a pair of semi-detached houses near MacRitchie Reservoir Park each with a unique theme

They are “cousins”, not twins. This is how Kee Jing Zhi of Freight Architects describes the pair of semi-detached houses he has designed, located within a stone’s throw of MacRitchie Reservoir Park. Naturally, he took inspiration from the location, resulting in one having a garden theme and the other, water. What also binds them together is their linear design language, fit-out and that they are being sold by the same developer, Kuhlmann Land.  “A lot of developers typically want an identical pair of semi-detached houses but instead, we conceptualised cousins, so that when they are joined together, it almost looks like a whole detached house,” says Kee. “From a neighbourhood standpoint, it looks neater and nicer. We also hope to attract people to buy the whole thing.” Working in his favour is the regular, rectangular 8,000sqft plot that the project sits on, along Westlake Avenue. This led him to be able to divide the land evenly into two, resulting in a pair of squares. Another advantage: the wide frontage of 15.2m for each site.  The result is a massing that…