Set in lush gardens, these dwellings are the subject of a new book by British architect and academic Robert Powell, 74. The 200-page hardcover, titled Singapore Good Class Bungalow 1819-2015, traces almost 200 years of the history of Singapore bungalows, including the origins of this class of property. The book was launched on Sept 7 at Space Furniture in Bencoolen Street.
THE ONG RESIDENCE
Putting a modern extension in front of a 103-year-old tropical Edwardian-style bungalow is not something most architects might do.
But Mr Rene Tan and Mr Quek Tse Kwang of RT&Q Architects did just that when they were commissioned by Mr K.T. Ong, managing director of interior furnishings company Vanguard Interiors, to restore his house in 2010 and add a new extension for his two grown-up children.
The house, which is on the cover of the Singapore Good Class Bungalow book, was originally designed by Scottish architect David McLeod Craik and built for a municipal councillor of Persian origin in 1913.
A distinctive feature of the old house, which comes with a lantern roof and timbre structure, was the porch at the entrance. It was set at 45 degrees to the main body of the house, which was restored in places.
The original staircase was reconstructed with some balustrade details, for instance.
Mr Tan and Mr Quek made the “counter-intuitive” decision of putting the new extension prominently in front of the entrance porch.
It comprises accommodation arrayed symmetrically along a linear lap pool. It is intentionally modern in appearance, featuring new materials such as grey granite, white marble, plaster and paint.
The design strengths of the architects were recognised when the project won an Urban Redevelopment Authority Architectural Heritage Award in 2011.
THE WATER-COOLED HOUSE
With her passionate interest in botany and ecology, the owner was clear from the start about what she wanted: a house naturally cooled with as little air-conditioning as possible.
The result is the Water-Cooled House at 27A Ewart Park, designed by architect Robin Tan from Wallflower Architecture + Design.
The bungalow, built in 2010, is ensconced in a valley near Holland Road and approached via a tree- lined drive.
An experiment in climate control, the bungalow has many cooling features, the most prominent of which is a large body of water on the roof.
This 40cm-deep rectangular pond, which surrounds a rooftop glass-walled pavilion, insulates the dining area, bedrooms and other rooms below, keeping them cool.
The impression one gets when looking out of the pavilion is of being in a forest canopy, with the greenery all around reflected in the calm water of the infinity pond.
Parallel to the building is a single- storey service block with a “wet” kitchen for heavy-duty cooking, a laundry and utility room and staff accommodation.
This is separated from the main block by a 30m-long koi pond which produces a cool micro-climate in the space in between.
EU HOUSE I
Possibly the seminal bungalow of the early 1990s, Eu House I in the Holland Road area is special in the way it elegantly and seamlessly combines different styles – Chinese, Balinese, Thai and Malay.
It was designed in 1993 by Argentinian architect Ernesto Bedmar, director of Bedmar & Shi.
The house consists of four pavilions set around a pond or water court in a U-shaped configuration.
One enters through a carved Chinese door with filigree panels, which gives a glimpse of the spaces that lie within. Balinese elements are seen on the legs of the pavilion columns and in the roof design.
The “openness” of the rooms evokes the banglas or bungalows of India, the Thai sala or pavilion, and the kampung houses of Malacca.
The result is a courtyard house that reflects the cultural diversity of Singapore and its location amid the multi-hued cultures of Asia.
23 GALLOP PARK
Sitting on the western-facing slope of Cluny Hill, this two-storey bungalow is a delightful assembly of interlocking “cubes” with a swimming pool projecting out to the west and, beyond this, a sculptural tour-de-force: a tree house.
The tree house is a unique vertical steel-and-timber structure with multi-level platforms that are built around a couple of trees.
It was designed by Dr Joseph Lim, an associate professor in the department of architecture at the National University of Singapore in 2002 for the previous owner, and it has been retained by the present one.
The current bungalow was designed by Mr Alan Tay of Formwerkz Architects in 2014.