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Home Is Where the Art Is

Buensalido + Architects designed Casa Uccello to reflect and showcase the incredible art collection housed within

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In Quezon City, the Philippines’s largest city, Buensalido + Architects have created a distinctive home for their well-known clients, media personalities Julius and Tintin Babao and their two children.

The Babaos are avid art collectors, and over the last two decades, the couple has amassed a fantastic collection of contemporary art comprising over 400 pieces. It was their shared love for art that inspired the design direction. ‘The brief was to design an expansion of their existing house to not only have ample space to showcase their artwork but also to address the growing spatial needs of their family,’ Jason Buensalido, principal architect and chief design ambassador explains. ‘They appreciate how artists see the world differently and interpret it through their art, and how multiple questions and meanings can be derived from it. They wanted a house with this kind of perspective –– one that is unique, different, and challenges current paradigms of what a house should be like.’ The artworks take pride of place throughout the home and are complemented by a neutral and natural colour palette.

The exterior of the angular building features customised elements such as a folded shell, slanted windows and gradient slats. In homage to the original house, the design team developed ‘a language of transitions, manifested by folds, fragments and fractals of various scales, to negotiate the nature of the existing house to the new expansion,’ Buensalido says. A gradient of horizontal aluminium slats forms a brise-soleil, and the home’s facade is covered in an ever-changing pattern that changes according to the sun’s angle.

Inside, the dining room is one of the most striking spaces. ‘The owner envisioned this space to be the pièce de résistance of the house, as this is where the family and guests would spend long periods of time. We therefore designed it to be a cocoon-like experience, wherein a series of undulating metal strips engulf the space,’ Buensalido explains.

Along with ample natural light, the exterior is further incorporated into the design with a lower ground lanai, pool and deck ol, a terrace for al fresco dining, and a top-floor sky terrace that the family uses as an outdoor cinema. Wood is used throughout the home as a warm contrast to the white stucco surfaces.

The Baobaos prized furniture collection is a creative collage of local and imported pieces such as the Chiquita stools and the Yoda chair by Kenneth Cobonpue, the La Chaise lounge chair by Charles and Ray Eames, the Egg™ chair by Arne Jacobsen for Fritz Hansen and the Spun chair by Thomas Heatherwick for Magis.

The design team, in Buensalido’s own words, aimed to ‘engage not only the public eye, but the public mind as well, to make people rethink the current boundaries of what a home should be,’ and it's clear to see the boundaries have been rather stylishly, and artfully, shifted.

Text / Babette Radclyffe-Thomas
Images / Buensalido + Architects and Ed Simon

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Easy Living

The most timeless dwellings are designed not to impress, but to offer comfort. The effortless elegance of the AR House by OBSERVANCY AND ARCHITECTURE embodies this philosophy

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When commissioning an architect to design their house, many homeowners are wont to create something of a showpiece. However, the owners of AR House in Singapore by OBSERVANCY AND ARCHITECTURE requested a simple and easy to maintain space.

Originally, they only wanted a single-storey home. However, building regulations dictated that the first storey be elevated to prevent potential flooding, and since the basement was uninhabitable the architects needed to build upwards.

The final construct rises three levels in an ‘L’ shape. In the street-level basement are a car park, storage spaces and a white-walled gallery. The raised first storey is accorded lush views of the greenery embracing the plot that sits in a cul-de-sac. The wing furthest from neighbours contains the living room, guestroom and master bedroom; the other accommodates the dining room, kitchen utilities and junior master bedroom. A lift and staircase join the two wings in the middle.

‘Although the lift and staircase lead you to the living room first, the heart of the house is actually the kitchen and outdoor dining space. The relationship between the living room, pool deck and outdoor dining and kitchen is very important to the owners,’ says the firm’s co-founding principal Terence Chan. The interior segues into the exterior through full-height glass doors.  

Although the architecture eschews a typical tropical aesthetic, it’s designed to harmonise with the elements. For instance, double-band windows in every room ensure plenty of natural light and cross ventilation; a triple-volume light well means an airy basement. Adds Chan, ‘we created a row of skylights on the patio overhangs so that the kitchen receives light from both ends. The owners spend most of their time in the kitchen and they can leave the windows and doors open during rain or shine.’

Practicality was a key consideration throughout. The entire house is wheelchair friendly, down to the master bathroom. Hardy brick tiles clad the exterior so there’s no need to repaint, clean the facade or revarnish. Aside from being easy to maintain, the facade ages well. ‘We like the facade to be subtle and simple, yet well finished and intricate,’ says Lee Jun Xian, the firm’s other co-founding principal. The owners’ preference for lighter tones is reflected in the tan colour of the brick tiles. This matches the pebble wash applied to the poolside exterior hardscapes.

Upon this foil is a disciplined play of horizontal and vertical lines in aluminium fascia and bent sheets. These are applied to ledges and windowsills in order to avoid rain streak marks and allow the windows to be slightly opened even during rain.

Clean lines, bespoke details and natural materials are the standard ingredients in each of OBSERVANCY AND ARCHITECTURE’s projects. Here, these elements carve out a harmonious backdrop for the owners’ collection of art and modern furniture, and set the scene for everyday easy living.

Text / Jingmei Luo
Images / Studio Periphery

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Simple Luxury

In this Bangkok apartment, the team behind design studio Anonym shaped a classy interior for a stylish client

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Every project that Thai studio Anonym works on is a new adventure. Developing a strong relationship with the client is part of the process, and the creative concept and design are landed upon after hours of discussion. Located in Thonglor, one of the most expensive areas in Bangkok, this 108-square-metre apartment exemplifies that experience.

The owner, a half-Thai half-German woman with a great sense of style, asked Anonym to renovate her dated flat. ‘We seek creative solutions that help our clients fulfil their dreams, achieve their goals and find their happiness,’ say Phongphat Ueasangkhomset and Parnduangjai Roojnawate, co-founders of Anonym, which was launched in 2016. One of their strengths is that the two designers have complementary skills: Usually more focused on the construction and exterior, Ueasangkhomset graduated from King Mongkut’s University of Technology Thonburi and worked on high-rise residential and hospitality projects and large-scale office buildings in Bangkok and Singapore. More focused on interiors, Roojnawate studied interior architecture at King Mongkut’s Institute of Technology Ladkrabang and a received a Master’s Degree in Paris. ‘Our design philosophy is based on the relationship between spaces, people and contexts,’ they say.

At the onset, one of the primary concerns was the lack of natural light in the living room due to the layout and narrow space. The Anonym team addressed this issue by removing a wall, which immediately creates a better flow to the whole apartment.

The main living area comprises an open kitchen and a living room, partly separated from the dining room by a room divider with a built-in television. On each end of the apartment is a bedroom with its own bathroom.

Several original features were preserved, including the wooden flooring, which was cleaned and polished, and the cabinet in the master bedroom, which was painted black. Taking into account the client’s love of monochrome and a more classic style, the designers recommended the use of white walls with mouldings, adding sophistication to the apartment. They created a black island in the kitchen, which complements several dark pieces of furniture. Gold accessories and lighting add touches of radiance and grandeur. Most elements were custom-made or are from local designers and furniture-makers, such as the sofa by Studio128.

The use of different materials and a restrained colour palette bring harmony to the apartment. The main goal was to achieve ‘simple and luxurious at the same time,’ the duo explains.

 Interested in creating both emotions and experiences, Ueasangkhomset and Roojnawate didn’t choose the name of their studio by chance. With Anonym, they invite everyone, regardless of who they are or what they do, to come together for the project at hand.

Text / Karine Monié
Images / Chaovarith Poonphol

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By the Sea

Soothing colours, subtle details and dexterous spatial manoeuvres make this apartment by the sea an inviting and relaxing holiday home

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It is quite common for homes located near the sea to have water-inspired themes. Some lean toward the literal, which can, after some time, dull into kitsch. This project by Singapore-based 0932 Designs is a subtler alternative that offers timeless appeal.  

The duplex apartment in the Daniel Libeskind-designed Corals at Keppel Bay already had a good structure: a six-metre-high living and dining space fronts a panoramic sea view and the verdant island of Sentosa beyond, edged by utility spaces and five bedrooms. A staircase leads up to a family room and open terrace.

As a holiday home for the client, the space needed to encourage relaxation. To achieve this, 0932 conceived thoughtful spatial adjustments and features: for instance, the orientation of the bed in the master bedroom was changed to face the sea rather than a neighbour’s unit; pocket sliding doors in the second-storey family room minimise disturbances from activity on the lower floor, and vice versa whenever necessary.

Focal points are established as a visual guide through the vast space. ‘The ceiling is only 2.3 metres high, and the low ceiling make the space appear stretched horizontally, with the help of a tinted mirror at one end,’ notes 0932 Design’s co-founder and director CK Low. The juxtaposition with the lofty main living area is dramatic, and is accentuated by a pair of Michael Anastassiades graphic and minimal Tube chandeliers that hang above the dining table.

Sheer curtains flood the interior with a gentle light. To meet the client’s desire for a more spacious lift lobby and natural lighting in the entrance, the designers replaced a swing door and trellis with tinted Valeria sliding doors from Rimadesio that allow light to segue through. Come evening, this space becomes a light-filled portal.

‘The main objective was to keep the spaces airy and breathable,’ says Low. Beige, white, dark chocolate and charcoal tones in the furnishings, fittings and surfaces provide a visually comfortable foil for modern furniture from brands like Walter Knoll and Flexform. 

Practicality and aesthetic delight meld seamlessly throughout. ‘We used more timber and fabric rather than metal, which would oxidise over time being so near the sea,’ explains Low. Curves — commonly used in nautical design — are found in elements like the half-rounded, solid oak strips wrapping the dry kitchen counter sides and master bedroom headboard, as well as in furniture forms.

Meanwhile, the original glass staircase with stainless steel handrails was replaced with an opaque oak timber railing, offering more tactility and comfort to the touch. Along the living room is a wall of white fins that mimics the movements of a boat’s sail in abstraction, and injects three dimensionality to the space. Made of high-quality nanotech laminate, the anti-fingerprint, water-repellent and mould-resistant material considers long-term maintenance.

As Low describes, 0932 Design is a collective ‘driven by an admiration for delicately complex craftsmanship behind what usually seems deceptively simple.’ This apartment clearly reflects this ethos, expressed in every element from the large gestures to the smallest detail.

Text / Jingmei Luo
Images / Tai Heng

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Room to Grow

Interior designer Janice Tjioe approached this family home in Jakarta as she would her own: by maximising functionality without sacrificing aesthetic qualities

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‘As an interior designer and a working mom, I know first-hand that what we need from a family home is more than just a functional space; it also needs to be aesthetically pleasing,’ Tjioe explains. The design brief emphasised the need to consider and accommodate the clients’ two young children, so Tjioe took that as her cue to design the relatively compact home to feel more spacious by maximising the available space.

In the living and dining areas, she designed storage units within the weather walnut wall panelling, where every panel is a door to a concealed unit. This strategy is repeated in the master bedroom, where the wall panelling hides extra closet space.

But, Tjioe notes, ‘in a family home, functionality also means durability.’ When selecting materials, this meant a washable area rug and quartz stone atop the dining table and kitchen counter. Both materials can be easily maintained, and the quartz surfaces, which complement the marble flooring, are scratch resistant.

Tjioe wanted to create a ‘relaxed yet sophisticated’ scene throughout the home, so sleek lines, a neutral palette and muted textures come together to offset the more rustic elements. ‘The balance of warm wood and neutral, matte finish make the space cosy and relaxing, while the polished surfaces add a touch of elegance and sophistication. In the dining area, the walnut panelling provides a more rustic palette against which a hand-painted semi-gloss buffet table, champagne leaf pedestal and crystal pendants stand out. The marble flooring that extends into the kitchen is softened with a broadloom area rug in the living area.’

With areas for play, relaxation and spending time together, Tjioe has designed a family home that champions functionality and modern design sensibilities.

Text / Simone Schultz
Images / Ari Iskandar

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