Cornwall Gardens by Chang Architects

Taking the concept of a private villa on a tropical island to a new level is this home designed by CHANG Architects. The Cornwall Garden residence is a private house that looks nothing like its neighbours’s houses around Holland and Farrer Roads. The architects designed a garden paradise wherein every room – including 3 bedrooms, a library and a rainwater tank – faces the private courtyard in the middle of the property. A swimming pool, a pond, a roof garden, a vegetable verandah, cascading planters and even a suspended bridge make this the ultimate tropical home. This project offers opportunities to reinterpret the ‘Good Class Bungalow’ (GCB). The GCB is a niche category of landed houses in Singapore, often associated with high-end landed housing for the privileged few. There are specific planning guidelines to safeguard the qualities of these houses. The minimum plot size has to be 1400 sqm. 

The ‘site coverage’, which refers to the building foot print, shall not exceed 35% of the site area. Intended for a family of four generations, this project relooks at ways of enhancing the joy of tropical living, of enlivening communal living in a contemporary, tropical setting, where family members reside in a home of interconnected social spaces. This house is located along Cornwall Gardens, within an enclave of detached houses in a ‘Good Class Bungalow Area (GCBA)’, under the Bukit Timah Planning Area. The client had planned this site of 1494 sqm for the retirement of their parents, an ‘open home with as much foliage and water elements as possible, making it a cool tropical paradisefor the family’. This, they hope to encourage their three children to ‘raise their families here when they grow up’. In addition, they had a preference for natural and darker shades of finishes, to be in sync with nature, and to cut down glare from the harsh tropical sun. 

In response to the brief and the site context, the original L-shaped plan has been extended to a U, with spaces reorganised to meet the family’s needs. The objective is to generate a sense of privacy amongst the different generations and between the neighbours; and at the same time, a sense of communality and cohesion amongst the family members. The stringent site coverage control posed challenges in meeting the space requirements for housing four generations. However, during the design process, this became a key inspiration, prompting a series of voids and crevices to be carved out on plan, for the penetration of daylight into the spaces, for natural ventilation, and for the cultivation of a variety of tropical undergrowth and aquatic lives.