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For a family coming back to a place filled with memories, we had to strike a balance between respectfully celebrating nostalgia and optimistically inserting some new. We wanted the site and the occupants to feel rejuvenated in a new, bright space filled with life; while embracing the history and beauty of graceful ageing.

Four siblings decided to build a new flat for their mother, in the estate of their childhood, for the sunset years of the mother; for the family to come home. They bought a dilapidated ground floor unit in the hip Tiong Bahru estate, hoping to convert it to a welcoming home that they would visit more regularly.

For a family coming back to a place filled with memories, we had to strike a balance between respectfully celebrating nostalgia and optimistically inserting some new. We wanted the site and the occupants to feel rejuvenated in a new, bright space filled with life; while embracing the history and beauty of graceful ageing.

To celebrate the history of the site and the occupants, we retained the architectural elements along the perimeter and restored them to their former glory. We restored existing windows, shutters, and mosaic floor tiles that the occupants would be familiar with, and revealed historical paint layers and original brickwork. New works were concentrated in the centre of the flat, forming the bedroom, bathroom and kitchen. A neutral and simple palette was used for the new works to let the old elements shine. The existing rear garden is rejuvenated with new lush landscaping embracing an outdoor dining space that would be the heart of warm family gatherings.

It was inevitable to think about the use of the flat after the eventual passing of the elderly occupant. To address that, we designed flexibility into the space for it to be converted into a 2-bedroom apartment for future rental, especially in the layout of the bathroom.

The lighting in the living room is designed to be dim, in line with the mother’s habit of not switching on living room lights at night. This also fits the siblings’ intention of creating a bar-like setting where they can gather over drinks at their mother’s place. This dim lighting is achieved through the “timber beams” in the living room, which are actually custom concealed light fittings.

April 2018
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