The spacious dining area that overlooks the indoor garden. PHOTO:YEN MENG JIIN & ROLAND TAN YEOW TECK

Being very close to his mum, Joshua Oh, who works in the oil and gas industry, knew that he would want to live near her even after he got married.

The family had been living in a two-storey semi-detached home in the West Coast area for the last 22 years. So when Mr Oh was getting married a few years ago, the family took the opportunity to rebuild the home which was showing signs of age.

Rather than move out, the family decided to build a home big enough for Mr Oh and his wife, Nana Yu, his mum, aunt, younger sister and mother-in-law. Mr Oh's two older married sisters have homes of their own.

Joshua Oh and Nana Yu in their indoor garden. PHOTO:YEN MENG JIIN & ROLAND TAN YEOW TECK


Mr Oh's brief to architect Tan Sok Tuan of Poiesis Architects, is a home that maximises use of the land area, with a large living and dining area, and also a private space for him and Ms Yu, a private tutor.

From the outside, the new 950 sq m home looks like a two-and-half storey house but it in fact has an extra floor. Prior to the rebuilding, the cars were parked on a slope inside the compound, as the house was located on a steep incline. To take advantage of the topography of the site, Ms Tan decided to carve out a basement storey to provide sheltered parking.

The vertical screen facade gives the home some privacy. PHOTO:YEN MENG JIIN & ROLAND TAN YEOW TECK

Mr Oh calls the basement his "hobby floor", as he gets to display his collection of Lord of the Rings memorabilia, such as figurines and swords, in glass cabinets. He also has a few helmets which are displayed in the entertainment room. Also on this floor is the music room, with two sets of drums and a few guitars. The couple are taking drum lessons.

A vertical screen, hanging pendant lights and an indoor garden are the central highlights of this home. PHOTO:YEN MENG JIIN & ROLAND TAN YEOW TECK

As basements tend to be dimly lit, Ms Tan created a courtyard with a skylight, to allow light to reach the bottom floor. Smack in the centre of the courtyard in the basement is an indoor garden, complete with trees, pebbled paths and a couple of glass fibre reinforced concrete "rocks" that look incredibly real. There was even real grass here initially, but this has now been replaced by artificial turf for easier maintenance.

Special glass was installed over the skylight. The glass works like transition lenses. They clear up automatically on a cloudy day, and darken on a sunny one, to regulate the amount of daylight entering the home. They are supposedly self-cleaning too.


The first floor is where the living and dining rooms are, as well as the wet and dry kitchens. Despite moving in more than a year ago, the space here is still fairly sparse, and for good reason. Mr Oh's nieces and nephews visit over on the weekend, and this gives them plenty of space to run around.

On the second floor there are four bedrooms, for Mr Oh's mum, his mum-in-law, his younger sister and an aunt. There is also a dedicated space here for his mum and sister to practise yoga or it can be used as a play area for the kids.

The couple have their own private space on the uppermost floor, which includes a study, a bedroom, walk-in wardrobes and a living space, plus a small pantry. They have their own private access. At 240 sq m, the space is equivalent to a spacious apartment. Ms Yu likes to joke that, "my address is unit 04-01".

Ms Tan, who has designed a few multi-generational homes, says it is always important to ensure that everyone gets their own space, while still creating welcoming common spaces for the family to gather.

To visually connect the different floors, Ms Tan had 27 spherical pendants suspended at varying heights from the ceiling. The lights also serve as an interesting counterpoint to the trees in the basement. In addition, there is a wooden screen that runs from the basement to the top floor.

A sheltered car porch was created in the rebuilding. PHOTO:YEN MENG JIIN & ROLAND TAN YEOW TECK

She uses a similar screen for the facade. This helps to shield the premises from the scorching sun as the unit faces West. It also gives the house privacy at the front. The home is transformed in the evening as artificial lighting from within creates a warm glow and provides glimpses of the interior.

Mr Oh says that everyone is happy with their new home. "Nana and I get our private space, so do my mum and sister. And when we do meet, it is just a few steps away," he says.


This story first appeared in The Business Times. Click here to read the original story