Two of L Architects’ projects garnered awards at the Singapore Institute of Architects Architectural Design Awards 2022, including “Design of the Year”, the highest accolade, no mean feat for a young, boutique firm. The studio revels in asking the difficult questions and exploring untested solutions, pushing boundaries in order to develop new prototypes. There is no fixed formula- every existing formula must be reconsidered and challenged so as to create new spaces and experiences that are meaningful.

Founder and Principal Architect, Lim Shing Hui devotes much time to the crafting of an interesting brief at the start of every project. Instead of jumping straight into the design, she endeavours to tease out the fundamental questions that the project should address and formulate project strategies. She believes that this is what gives the firm an edge in the whole design process.

To L Architects, a space is more than the sum of its parts and there must be poetry in even the most utilitarian of programmes. By always maintaining a sense of wonder and delight, their creations are able to connect more strongly with people’s emotions, and this is what architecture and design is about.

Year of establishment: 2016
Address: 41 Jalan Pemimpin #02-01C, Singapore 577186

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Project 1: Two-bedroom apartment in River Valley (1,119 sq ft)

An apartment unit located on the first storey is usually not the most popular among home buyers who tend to favour units on higher floors for their views and privacy. Shing Hui wants to change that perspective. She endeavoured to make these interior spaces feel like they belong in a single dwelling house where doors or windows would typically open out to a garden.

The discovery of the additional ceiling space when the existing false ceiling was removed tied in nicely with the house form. The apartment is demarcated into three zones, each with its own pitched roof, made possible by the high ceiling. The experience of moving from one zone to the next is akin to crossing the threshold, heightened by the use of granite stepping stones surrounded by a bed of loose river pebbles.

The house form was a contextual response inspired by the site, not a result of the client’s or the architect’s whim. It arose from reading what the spaces needed in relation to their surroundings in order to create thoughtful and thought-provoking spaces.

Project 2: Multi-label kitchen appliances showroom in Kian Teck Crescent (7,330 sq ft)

Shing Hui sees this project as an opportunity to find resourceful ways to be more innovative with the use of materials in order to strike a sensible balance between creating an authentic retail experience versus renovation budget. This was done by addressing tough questions such as whether you need a big budget to create memorable in-store experiences and whether clients should be made to invest in frivolous ideas.

Using a humble palette comprising hollow cement bricks, unadorned plywood and unwanted off-cut stones, it is a contextual response to the peculiarities of ordinary materials to create something extraordinary.

This project is testimony to the practice’s belief that even the most perfunctory spatial programmes can give rise to memorable experiences through innovative and thoughtful design, and that good design must remain accessible and serve the common man.

Project 3: Two semi-detached homes at Tampines Road (7,000 sq ft)

When faced with an undesirable context, the biggest challenge for Shing Hui was how to bring that spirit of respite, liveability and tranquillity into the house. She questioned whether it is possible to create a great indoor space without having a great outdoors and devised a design strategy that could better respond to the undesirable surroundings rather than create a “hermetic shell”.

Trees and plants thrive with an abundance of rain and sunlight in the tropics. They also provide excellent shields from both eastern and western sun, while offering pleasant views. Through the pandemic, people have developed a keener appreciation for nature and the joy of being outdoors. These were what prompted her to use nature as a building material to form a porous, living façade, thereby creating a new prototype where nature can be successfully weaved into a house sited in a highly urbanised context.