Three Generations Enjoy Privacy under One Roo

By Ng Bee Leng / The Dream Design Studio | June 20, 2016 8:00 AM SGT
This three-storey, semi-detached house off Upper Bukit Timah Road has been rebuilt to meet the needs of a three-generation family. The parents wanted their elder son’s family to move in with them. Privacy for the son’s family was of the utmost importance in the design brief.
The parents and son’s family wanted a different interior treatment for their own space. Each wished to have their own distinct identities.
The house sits on a natural land terrain whose topography allows direct access to the basement car park from the road level. The living space is elevated from the road.
Three generations are housed in this semi-detached house off Upper Bukit Timah Road
The house is articulated around a square geometric plan, yet the spatial arrangement within this straightforward framework is a complex interplay of spaces to create privacy for the parents and the son’s family. The space allocation and the interior design treatment play an important role in crafting the design character for each family. The space planning is such that the son’s family occupies the left side of the house and the parents, the right. A common lift lobby is placed at the heart of the house for easy access. The spaces within the house are designed for each family to enjoy their own privacy, while ensuring there are spaces where the family can share and mingle together.
The basement is the common access for the families and guests. The lift is programmed with security controlled access to the second and third storeys. Therefore, guest access is allowed only in the basement and first storey. The entertainment room and function area are located in the basement with a view of the air well, landscape and koi pond. The air well provides natural lighting and ventilation in the basement. Daylight is brought into the basement also via a skylight and other means of fenestration. The basement car park is designed to accommodate four cars and is screened off from the entertainment room and function area.
The air well opens directly onto the landscape and koi pond in the basement
Staircase cantilevers in void space and overlooking the basement
The son’s family wanted a modern tropical resort approach with dark walnut timber in contrast with a light-toned floor finishing. The son’s family has a living space that opens onto a reflective pond and landscape. The water feature spans the entire width of the living area, with a timber platform cantilever above the water. The staircase is designed to interlock with spaces and overlook the air well in the basement.
The son’s family living space has a dark walnut timber panelling and shelving in contrast with the light wall feature and floor finishing
A bathroom in the living space of the son’s family
The parents prefer the interior design to be of a natural oak finish with a touch of modern contemporary. They wanted an open-concept kitchen with the dining and living area connected in one continuous space. This is to allow them to enjoy the company of their son’s family when they come together. The living space opens onto a timber deck and landscape. The timber deck is decorated with skylight to light the basement below. It is also a play area for the grandchildren.
The separate staircase access from the first storey to the family areas and bedrooms ensures privacy whenever there is a function.
The character and natural feel of the white oak panelling has given the parents’ living space its own identity
Natural lighting and ventilation have are a priority. Every space in the house is well ventilated and filled with natural light.
Besides taking care of individual needs and privacy, the design also cohesively blends the different interior language, texture and treatment of the various spaces.
All in all, this three-generation house is an interesting interplay between architecture and interior design, connection and separation, light and ventilation, mass and void, and openings and air well for casting light into the depth of the house and basement, creating pockets of intimate spaces for the family to embrace and enjoy.
Ng Bee Leng is principal of The Dream Design Studio, a firm with an extensive track record that ranges from minor renovations to the reconstruction and building of terraced and semi-detached houses, bungalows and Good Class Bungalows. It offers total design solutions for architectural, interior, landscape and art works. Ng can be reached at
This article appeared in The Edge Property Pullout, Issue 733 (June 13, 2016) of The Edge Singapore.