L Architects

Founded by Lim Shing Hui in 2016, L Architects is a boutique architecture studio based in Singapore that asks simple questions but are intrepid in its interventions. It revels in the hard questions and untested solutions, pushing boundaries to conceive new prototypes. A space is more than a sum of parts, and has ample potential for enhanced living beyond what we are familiar with. This thought shapes its philosophy to making objects, rooms, dwellings, work spaces and gardens.

Not one to subscribe to mere archetypes or typologies, it has in its body of work an apartment interior that embeds qualities of a landed house, nature as a building material, and abandoned structures resurrected into life-giving shells full of wild, aged beauty that makes for an unusual workspace and an extraordinary retail space made from ordinary materials. Also, in design studies transcending scale, a doll’s house to contain bookish treasures, a shoe cabinet that is part umbrella stand, and a floating bedside table that adapts to space and function.

With each piece of work, an architect invites the client into a part of her childhood, habits and beliefs, making the very act of designing a personal one. For Shing Hui, this would be everyday conversation with the natural world. As a child, she was beholden to nature’s gifts and possibilities. Forest treks and scenic discoveries shaped her thinking, and they still do. Nature can reveal many lessons. It is the premise for the studio’s experiments, and a tool to evoke emotion and calm.

L Architects designs for people, and people are multifaceted. Quirks and habits, routines and past times, work and play. These are things it thinks about – as do you. It understands your apprehensions, your dreams, your lacks and your fancies. It is a maker, but also listener. In its role, it takes the client along on a journey of discovery through unlikely ideas into surprising products.

The metamorphosis of concept to pen, and then to built form – L Architects enjoys all the steps it takes, including the back-and-forth dialogue in developing a design, the hours (yes, it does take hours) conceiving and drawing a door or staircase edge detail, as well as the creative energy among collaborators on site. Mostly, it strives to find that one right question that will steer each creation.

L Architects

portfolio

Q&A with Lim Shing Hui, L Architects: My most interesting work is when I can truly be myself

Q&A with Lim Shing Hui, L Architects: My most interesting work is when I can truly be myself

You pride yourself on not subscribing to stereotypes, as seen through projects such as The House Apartment. How exactly do you do it?  In a nutshell, to be myself. I think my most interesting work is when I can truly be myself. Our background, culture, thoughts and personal experiences make each of us unique and special. I have always believed there is something very interesting hidden in this. Let’s use The House Apartment as an example of me “being myself”. It’s not far-fetched to say that whenever a designer sees a space with a tall ceiling, he or she would probably propose to insert a loft. It almost becomes like a formula. Another fact is most people dislike ground floor units. That is also why they are typically sold at a lower price. If I am being totally myself, I will tell you I am actually very attracted to them because they make me feel like I am staying in a landed house with greenery to look at. I don’t like to take lifts either. In this case, I felt…

L Architects experiments with bridging a landed house and apartment in this unit in UE Square Residences

L Architects experiments with bridging a landed house and apartment in this unit in UE Square Residences

In Singapore, ground floor units in residential developments are usually not as sought after as those on higher floors. L Architects, however, saw much potential in this 1,119sqft, level-one condominium unit in UE Square Residences. In doing so, it turned it into an apartment with interiors reminiscent of the inside of a house.  The apartment’s owner – a single, 30-something lawyer working in tech – wanted her home to be an oasis of calm and tranquillity, where she could recharge and recalibrate after hectic days at work. L Architects removed the unit’s false ceiling to reveal a high, airy space. The client asked if it could do anything with it and had toyed with the idea of building a loft. As the firm’s founder Lim Shing Hui contemplated this, the idea of an apartment that looked like a house was born.  “There is a stigma attached to ground floor units. They are not favoured because they don’t offer elevated views and afford less privacy than higher floor units. So we took on this project with a desire to change this…

12 trees are planted on the façade of House of Trees by L Architects to form a buffer

12 trees are planted on the façade of House of Trees by L Architects to form a buffer

What do you do when the residence you’re asked to design sits directly in front of a bustling, six-lane road? For L Architects, the solution was to use trees and green landscaping to create a visual and auditory buffer. The result is House of Trees, a property composed of two, conjoined semi-detached homes.  Located in Kovan, the home, which has three levels split into two wings and an attic, was designed for two brothers and their families. The plot where it presently sits had formerly been the site of the brothers’ childhood home and had been gifted to them by their parents. The brief was for two semi-detached dwellings to look like a single detached house with shared parking spaces and interiors that can be connected and opened up for social events.  In response, L Architects subdivided the plot into two lots that each have their own address; they accommodated the brothers’ need for connectedness with shared common areas and a large sliding door at the first-floor dining area.  “Almost every weekend, the brothers have extended family gatherings here. That…