Wind Catcher House
A stunning landscape calls for a house to “disappear” into the surroundings. The house is situated in a tree conservation area with lush undergrowth and most of the big mature trees on site have to be conserved. The idea is to preserve this “ground” and to have the house touching the ground as lightly as possible. The client’s brief was to create a romanticised notion of tropical living. A house with minimal usage of airconditioning, a house where there is a blurring of inside/outside space, a house that is sustainable and kind to the environment.
strategy 1_touching the ground lightly to catch the wind
The house is conceptualised through a process of markings on the ground. Boundary is marked by the collaged planes and volumes; forming an elusive edge for the interior to flow with the exterior spaces. With the lack of definitive boundary, transition to different spaces is defined subtly through the changes in the floor materials. The ground floor spaces become totally connected to one another and to the pool and garden both physically and visually. With the ground floor freed up, the bedrooms and more private rooms are lifted above the “ground” on the 2nd storey among the treetops supported by planes and thin slanted columns that merges with the landscape. This project explores the theme of visual and phenomenal transparency through strategic spatial organisation and abstraction of form and materials.
Deep overhangs and intermediate zones between inside and outside spaces make it feasible for windows to stay open for weather conditions. High ceilings, double volume spaces and openings at all sides encourage cross-ventilation and 1st and 2nd storey air circulation.
The existing Tembusu trees on site called for the strategic orientation and placement of the bedroom wing – pivoted away from the main wing and lifted above the pool. The conserved Tembusu trees not only formed a backdrop visually, it also provided shade from the equatorial sun’s heat and glare. A combination of glass fanlights and a curved roof allow natural daylight to filter through into the house and reduce reliance on electrical lighting in the day. The house is designed to be less compact, thus allows it to be amidst nature rather than to only fringe it.
strategy 1_creation of a unique facade from the diseased tree
The technique of abstraction was used particularly on the 2nd storey bedroom wing. With the bedrooms facing N-S and parallel to the “Tembusu” trees, the block created a visual barrier between the pool and central activity area with the 2 trees. One of the trees on site was deemed diseased, hence the opportunity to use the timber as part of the building articulation. Recycled “Tembusu” timber vertical panels were laid on the foreground against the trees behind. This abstraction of the line of the tree trunks forms a suggestive continuation of the trees, thus creating an illusion that the volume is transparent. The slanting slender columns that support the bedroom wing mimic the surrounding smaller trees and merge visually into the distant landscape; reconnecting spatially and visually from the pool back to the garden.
The texture and colours of the landscape informed the material usage for the house. Large double glaze windows divided the inside outside spaces for transparency and reflection. The glazing reflects the images of the surrounding trees and plants and creates a visual blurring effect between the hard edges and the landscape.
“Corten” steel was used as claddings for the planes as the rust has similar image and texture to that of tree trunks. The granites were also specially selected and cut from the exposed rusted skin on granite boulders. Sawn timber from the removed “Tembusu” tree was re-used as cladding for the bedroom wing.
Is cast on site acting as a passive solar wall. taking advantage of the thermal mass properties – creating solid insulated walls that offer high energy efficiency. Insitu concrete wall acts both as a structural element to the design as well as reduces material redundancy of cladding materials. Old thai house timber reused as timber flooring, timber screen at entrance foyer and interior cabinetry works.
Australian sculptor Tony Twigg worked with technical assistant Nicholas Bray, to create “Armada” a 7 part organic installation made from Tembusu tree stump. The scale of this work was enormous, the individual components were crane-lifted into place but it was the length of the saw cuts required that was the true measure of the works scale, and Nicholas Bray’s ability.Location: Singapore Architects: K2LD Architects
Project name: The Windcatcher House