Finbarr Fallon

An experimental take on the ubiquitous window results in a whimsical collage of openings of various types and sizes that fosters interaction among family.

This 4-bedroom apartment is a matrimonial home belonging to a couple in their 30s who work in finance and tech.

Apart from requesting to combine two bedrooms into one larger master bedroom, allocate one room as a study for the wife who works from home and set aside a future children’s room, they did not really ask for anything out of the ordinary in their brief to L Architects. 

Who: A newlywed couple in their 30s
Home: A 4-bedroom condominium at Paterson Residence
Size: 1,658 sq ft (154 sqm)
Interior Designer: L Architects

Dumbbell layout condo

The condo apartment has a dumbbell layout where the bedrooms are located on either side of the central living and dining areas.

This is generally considered an efficient arrangement and the design team comprising principal architect, Lim Shing Hui, and architectural assistant, Tse Lee Shing immediately recognised its potential and took it upon themselves to create something meaningful for the new owners.

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3 Month Renovation

“We realised that the clients cannot ask for something that they do not know, so it is really up to us to pitch an interesting design idea,” says Shing Hui. 

A good place to start is by addressing existing shortcomings. A visit to the site at the start of this 3-month renovation project convinced the architects Shing Hui and Lee Shing that the apartment had just too many walls, which made the rooms feel isolated, hardly a conducive environment for starting and raising a family.

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Too many walls

The duo set out to reduce the number of walls surrounding the main living and dining areas, but instead of demolishing entire walls, they explored a more unusual approach.

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Windows in the house

“We wanted to see if we could introduce more openings that look into these shared spaces. To me, windows can be considered one of the most interesting architectural elements with multiple functions. Somehow, they are not often used in renovation projects and we felt that we could try and push the boundary with windows for this project,” shares architect Shing Hui. 

It is ironical that although the rooms are located around the communal living and dining spaces, they feel cut-off because of the existing walls. Windows would establish a connection.

With the walls intact and new fenestrations inserted into them, occupants have the flexibility of opening the windows when they wish to interact with other family members or closing them when privacy is desired.

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Bifold window for kitchen

Another advantage is the optimisation of natural cross-ventilation within the apartment.

The interior designers experimented with different window systems to create a playful composition that is visually interesting without the need for feature walls or art.

“The positioning of the windows and the type of windows specified for each space were carefully considered to correlate to the functions on both sides of the wall,” Shing Hui explains.

A vertical bi-fold window was introduced in the wall separating the dining area and master bedroom. It opens towards the former to form a cantilevered, roof-like element below the apartment ceiling that gives the dining area a more human scale.

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Bay window bench

Along with a custom-built bench, the space has a cosy ambience that has set the scene for some meaningful conversations among family and friends since the couple moved into their new home in September 2021.

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Sash Window

A low-level, peekaboo sash window between the living room and provisional children’s room seems like just the thing for the couple’s future kids to have some fun with, or for the grown-ups to keep an eye on the young ones playing in the bedroom.

Extra slide-and-fold windows near the ceiling ensure that the child taking the upper bunk of the double-decker bed would not feel alienated.

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Urban Loneliness

Architects Shing Hui and Lee Shing share a common critique about modern-day urban living: “We believe that many of us live in isolation without really realising it. We live apart even though we share the same address.”

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Interior windows between rooms

The way that they have gone about introducing windows into the internal walls of the home has made it possible to divide rooms into separate spaces, but when opened, generates a fluid sequence of freely accessible and connected rooms that are more conducive for family life.

These windows also create a layering effect that adds to the spatial depth of the home.

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