• Rear elevation, night; Original shophouse facade at front
  • Interior lightwell
  • Entry Foyer, with Peranakan antique furniture
  • Rear elevation, detail; Window to the tree canopy, master bedroom.
  • Rear stair, in timber and steel; Rear stair, windows and light.
  • Steel stairs at interior lightwell; Preserved glass with ornamental pattern.
  • Preserved glass with ornamental pattern
  • Study at attic level
  • Private garden in the tree canopy, at master bedroom
  • View into sitting room from attic; Historic photos of the owners' family, bench, at foyer.

Emerald House

This is a new home, which involves a partial renovation of a classic Emerald Hill shophouse, and the addition of a new extension. The house was designed for a family that holds a sizable collection of Peranakan antique furniture, containing pieces that are highly ornamental and delicate. It was agreed that the design of the house should be calm and contemporary, with good light and proportions. The role of the house was not to compete with the furniture, but to act as a simple, but elegant setting for them.

This house also stands in a quite challenging urban location, as it faces two very different kinds of neighbors. Its frontage is on Emerald Hill, which is quaint, and low-rise. But its rear–where the new extension stands–faces the strong presence of the CTE as it travels north-south.

The rear facade addresses this problem with an unusual solution. Windows are “turned” to face an existing line of Khaya trees–that is, their angle relative to the facade changes as they turn toward the densest portions of the canopy. This preserves privacy, without an over-bearing use of shutters or other blocking devices. The result is an interesting innovation, in which windows are installed at various angles, and the facade appears to “twist” as a result.

All images by Darren Soh/ Fullframephotos.