Text description provided by the architects. The owners approached us to design a courtyard home to house their multi-generational family. They would like a house that allowed water and greenery to flow through the house, reminding them of their Peranakan roots. They also asked that the house seeks inspiration from Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater, which they visited once and it left a strong impression on them for its engagement with nature.
The site is challenging with its triangular shape, sloping terrain and narrow entrance. To create a feeling of openness, instead of having one large box, the massing of the house was pulled apart by intersecting courtyards, gardens and terraces to allow breezes to flow, as well as provide all the rooms with views and access to gardens. The two main wings of the house are connected by lightweight hanging bridges and cantilevered staircase which together allow open, unrestricted circulation on all floor levels.
The design is very much in keeping with the spirit of Wright’s Fallingwater, whose design seamlessly integrates nature into the home. As Fallingwater emphasizes horizontality through its floating planes, the Water Lily House lays different levels over the sloppy site to stratify the different generations of the family around a central courtyard. Courtyard and roof gardens helps to break down the overall mass of the house as well as inviting greenery into all the rooms.
For a family that consists of grandparent and three adult children with their respective families, the house has been cautiously split up in various levels and wings to give flexibility for each generation to have privacy yet come together for the more social functions such as dining and entertaining. The grandparents have their own sanctuary on the ground floor; their living room extends out to a courtyard with a pond on one side, and a garden on the other. Retractable glass doors allow the living room to be fully opened up and become a pavilion in a garden. The first storey houses the family’s living and dining areas, as well as an elevated garden above the grandparents living area. These spaces are organized around the central courtyard that features a water garden. The bedrooms make up the second storey which houses the owners’ adult children and their respective families. The bedrooms are designed to maximize views of the surrounding landscape. Ascending to the attic level there is a secluded apartment which opens onto the landscaped roof terrace overlooking the surrounding greenery and completes a rooftop experience that escapes the hustle and bustle of city life.
As a tropical home, passive environmental principles are used extensively to provide passive cooling and minimize usage of air-conditioning. Large roof overhangs are introduced to shade the bedroom windows from the tropical sun. Roof gardens are effective in helping to cool the building as well help retaining water at time of heavy rain.
© Patrick Bingham-Hall
Guz Wilkinson & Chayanit Boonma