From Crocodile Farm to Coveted Residence

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September 26, 2016 8:00 AM SGT
One Surin, a strata landed housing project, is a redevelopment of two adjoining sites at 1 Surin Road and 709 Upper Serangoon Road. The sites were formerly owned by the late Tan Gna Chua, a trader in crocodile skins after World War II. The businessman turned his home into a reptile farm, the first of its kind in Singapore. The Singapore Crocodile Farm operated for more than 67 years before closing in 2012. The site was zoned for mixed-landed housing under the 2008 Master Plan.
In July 2012, the two adjoining freehold sites with a combined land area of 42,851 sq ft were put up for sale in a tender conducted by Colliers International. ACT Holdings and its partners Nobel Design Holdings and Pinnacle Asset Management swooped in and purchased the site for $37.5 million ($875 psf based on land area) in a deal completed in September that year. The developers had to pay a $6.1 million development charge.
One Surin’s central feature is the terraces with cascading water
One Surin’s central feature is the terraces with cascading water
The design architect for One Surin, A_Collective Architects, and its interior design practice, Architology, had been located at Lim Tua Tow Road, in the same neighbourhood as the Singapore Crocodile Farm. They had been there for seven years, but Lim Eng Kwee, principal architect of A_Collective, was not even aware that his office was just across the road from a crocodile farm until he was informed by the developers.
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Lim’s first visit to the Crocodile Farm was after it had closed. Even then, he was intrigued. “Everyone thinks of adventure when they hear about the crocodile farm,” he says. “Once you step in, you feel like you’ve been transported into another world. And that was the essence we wanted to retain.”
The architect had initially toyed with the idea of crocodile sculptures around the development, but felt it was a bit tacky. Instead, Lim decided to create a rustic, resort-like development using natural materials and textures.
Lim decided to create a rustic, resort-like development using natural materials and textures
--thisisapagebreak The biggest constraint was the shape of the site, which was irregular, and the terrain also sloped about 3m from one end to the other. The architect overcame the challenging terrain by creating terraces, and turned it into an advantage instead. The result is that the central feature of the project is terraces with cascading water, merging with the swimming pool, infinity pool and wading pool running across the entire project.
The 27 units at One Surin are similar in that they are all three-level houses with a basement and a rooftop terrace. Each house has four bedrooms, a home lift and a built-up area ranging from 3,789 to 4,166 sq ft. To increase space efficiency, corridors within the units were minimised.
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All the rooms — from the first to the third levels, including the bathrooms — are naturally ventilated. Instead of the usual wet and dry kitchen, each unit will have an indoor and outdoor kitchen. The basement level, which currently houses the utility area, can be converted into a fifth bedroom, adds Lim.
Some of the four-bedroom units come with an additional study
Dining and living area
While the interiors are similar, the outdoor spaces are all different, says Lim. “Some of the units have a private courtyard, while others have a private enclosed space with a sunken spa pool that is linked to the main swimming pool. This way, homebuyers can choose the kind of lifestyle they want.”
Example of the private enclosed space and courtyard
To minimise maintenance, the privacy screens on the upper levels of each unit are made of aluminium instead of natural timber. Rough cast plaster is also used as a feature wall; although it is labour-intensive, Lim believes it will wear better in the long term, as cracks are not as visible.
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One Surin is scheduled to be completed by year-end, and the developers plan to relaunch the project once it is completed. Interior design firm SuMisura has designed a show unit on the actual site.
“The project will definitely stand out in the neighbourhood,” says Lim.
This article appeared in The Edge Property Pullout, Issue 747 (Sep 26, 2016) of The Edge Singapore.