Water garden house

We present “Water garden house” by Wallflower Architecture + Design, a 30 year old property in Singapore, which was transformed into an oasis of tranquility in a bustling urban neighborhood.

A property owned for 30 years, the tired old house had to make way for a new one that maximized the allowable built envelope, while addressing new needs and desires. Among them was a desire to have a waterfall feature in the design, and a need for privacy from the many neighbors.

The site is perfectly circular when seen from above and it is a unique space in Singapore. This circle bounds a site that is in the middle of a steep valley.

Aerial view.
Photography: Rayden Ong Photography

Unlike hillside sites that we had previously encountered, from the front gate, a narrow driveway descends 3.4 meters to the existing platform level (1st storey) and then the site starts to slope down 5.3 meters into the valley. The circular site lacked lawn areas and was also surrounded by six houses.

Cantilevered structure.
Photography: Marc Tey Photography

The shape and sloping topography of the site were the obvious challenges to address. With simplicity and efficiency as prioritized planning attributes, the house took on a C shaped outward looking courtyard configuration. As the garden at the bottom of the valley was inaccessible, the sloping site gave inspiration to incorporate within the C shape cascading pools and terraces that would logically flow down to the “valley”.

Lush greenery was integrated into every level of the house to balance the lack of lawn area. The swimming pool edge empties as a waterfall, enjoyed as one enters at the basement lobby.

Photography: Marc Tey Photography

This developed into a cantilevered structure projecting from the top of a solid rock outcrop. A platform on which the living areas and the pool could now be placed. The intention was for this to be visually hovering, giving the smooth travertine block a sense of lightness.

The resulting primary spaces are open and transparent and blessed with views of water that overlook Lady Hill’s hidden valley. Operable teakwood screens clad the entire façade of the house, and allow the control of privacy and the micro environment within rooms. A filter of hanging plants provides an added layer of privacy and softens the facade around the swimming pool.

Hanging plants.
Photography: Marc Tey Photography

The palette was deliberately restricted to travertine and basalt, and that light needed to penetrate the lower levels, bringing an openness to these otherwise confined spaces. A sense of movement connects all the spaces through the architectural form of curvatures and sloping facades, the movement of water, and the lie of the land.

They are balanced by the stable large expanses of platforms where the living spaces are. Nestled amongst mature trees, the home enjoys privacy that is unusual in this tight urban site, close to the bustle just beyond this highly sought-after neighborhood.

“A filter of hanging plants provides an added layer of privacy and softens the facade around the swimming pool.”

Water Garden House.
Photography: Marc Tey Photography