Inspired by the beauty of free-flowing curves, Stiletto House is a fusion of sculpture and building, a blending of form and function to create living spaces that inspire.
It embraces traditional concepts of tropical architecture while reinterpreting them in contemporary forms. It explores what a house could be like for an avid collector of antiques and ultra-modern furniture, a house that displays and becomes a display itself. The house strives to strike a delicate balance between the traditional masculinity of dramatic grand spaces and the sensuous, fluid nature of free-flowing curves.
An otherwise rigid double volume space is blanketed with the softness of the curved overhangs and columns. The curves seek to question the possibility of breaking the mould of typical rectilinear forms while responding to local planning guidelines and maximizing plot efficiency.
EHKA Studio interpreted the desire of a client for a very unique and dramatic looking house by creating sensual sculptural forms. “Floating” overlapping curvaceous planes shield the spaces, enclosed by curved glass and walls. Sensual curves are deployed throughout the house, from the building to the landscaping and groundscape, to the staircases and curved glass railings, to the edging soffit details and corrugated perforated metal sheets, and even to the interior cabinetries, furniture and fitting out accessories.
At each scale of the project, from the building form to the details, there is a pursuit of the sensuality of form. These curvaceous forms create a sense of drama, plays well off the sunlight, and adds a touch of “softness”. Yet each curve is defined logically by the spaces it contains – bedrooms, family room, etc, and is not employed in a whimsical manner.
Our client’s goal was to maximize the site with as much internal floor areas as possible, and with each room being as large as it possibly can. Although this house is located in a 2 storey residential zone, by working within the envelope control requirements of URA, we managed to squeeze in an additional mezzanine floor. This gives the owner additional floor space, which he used to house some of his antiques and designer furniture.
To prevent the spaces below the mezzanine from feeling too “squashed up”, the entire mezzanine floor is constructed with glass, so the kitchen and bar area below the mezzanine still feels lofty. Even with its seemingly complex shapes, the geometries can be reduced to simple concepts so that the construction methodology is reasonably basic and does not require any special building technology. The materials employed are common in the local house construction: concrete and glass.
These make the building buildable and keeps construction cost affordable. The sculpted columns are in reinforced concrete, using with laser-cut formwork and flexible plywood to form the shape, then plastered and smoothened out by hand to achieve the smooth curves. The curved and corrugated exterior walls are fabricated off-site in fiber reinforced concrete panels and assembled and finished onsite to achieve a smooth finish.
The extensive use of glass in a home is the client’s requirement, and while seemingly counter-intuitive in the tropics, it actually worked to create comfortable and beautiful spaces when combined with passive design strategies that are adopted from traditional tropical architecture. The western façade is mostly solid walls, and the double-height sliding glass doors at the dining area have an exterior sliding aluminum screen to block the western sun. On the north and eastern facades, we have large double-height glass, with sliding doors that can fully open, allowing the space to be cross-ventilated.
Coupled with the ceiling fans, large overhanging eaves to provide shade, and pool and water overflow wall along the entire boundary to cool the surroundings, these design strategies help create a comfortable living space that can be used even without air-conditioning. The use of low-emissive glass also helps to minimize the thermal impact. We believe this project can redefine what tropical architecture can look like.
This design challenges the notion that homes need to be rigidly shaped for efficiency, by exploring how a sculptural building can be efficient, logical, tropical, practical, and liveable at the same time. While highly sculptural in form, the building also addresses the occupant’s needs for shelter and shade, light and ventilation – creating comfortable spaces even without mechanical cooling. The use of sensual curves is unusual for houses that are commonly defined by its setback boundaries and by the desire for maximum efficiency.
Photography by Studio Periphery and Dan Loo with courtesy of EHKA Studio