When William Morris completed the Red House in 19th-century London, he may not have realized the influence it would have on Arts and Crafts architecture across Britain, let all alone the rest of the world. However, the ideals associated with that movement have traversed the globe in the succeeding decades, and this is no more apparent than when evaluating the residential gems of Guz Architects.
“I knew I wanted to become an architect at quite a young age,” says Guz Wilkinson, founder and principal architect at the firm. “I grew up in rural England and had always been fascinated by the traditional vernacular houses. They never cease to give me inspiration, even to this day.”
805 Holland Road
On first impression, it might seem challenging to draw comparisons between the quaint cottages of southern England and the contemporary Singaporean villas being produced by this studio. However, Wilkinson’s design approach possesses many facets of the Arts and Crafts ideology he holds a passion for: a love of handcrafted materials, a preference for bespoke detailing, and an innate sensitivity for context.
“My first major project after setting up my own practice in 1997 was a house on Old Holland Road, Singapore,” reflects the architect. “Through this house, I discovered that I was able to blend Asian elements with Arts and Craft to suit the tropical environment and the landscape. I loved the extreme simplicity of building in the tropics … just a roof and a few columns, which you could take to an extreme with overlays and overhangs.”
Dalvey Road House, 2013
These overlays and overhangs have become a signature feature of the firm’s work and are present within a key residential work by Guz named Dalvey Road House. Completed in 2013, the building channels America’s own master of craftsmanship, a certain Frank Lloyd Wright.
“The client, inspired by her visit to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fallingwater, sought out Guz Architects for a tropical interpretation on a challenging triangular site with sloping terrain and a narrow entrance. Just as Fallingwater’s stair-shaped cantilevers emphasized its horizontality, Guz used the different levels to stratify the different generations of the family living under one roof.”
Fish House, 2009
The horizontal lines and shallow-pitched roofs that define Dalvey Road also possess a touch of Robie House about them. It turns out Wright’s Prairie School style translates beautifully to highly contemporary residential architecture in the humid climes of Singapore. Fallingwater’s inspiration can be traced further back to 2009 when Guz completed Fish House, a dwelling of jaw-dropping beauty on the Singaporean coast.
Historical references to the Arts and Crafts movement are combined with extraordinarily slender structural elements and full-height glazing, bringing a generous dose of modernism to proceedings in this tropical corner of Southeast Asia. The home also showcases another of Guz Architects’ signature moves: the application of luscious green roofs and perfectly manicured landscaping complete with the most inviting swimming pools imaginable.
Willow House, 2012
The sleek yet warm palette of materials on display in Fish House was carried through to more recent projects by the firm, including what is possibly their most refined iteration of the tropical Arts and Crafts style yet. Willow House was designed for a young family and intended to be “a place with soul,” according to the architects.
Cascading curtains of greenery, a glass-sided pool, and tree-like timber columns complement a house rich with contextual charm. As with the previous projects, passive ventilation defines the open-plan spaces, while a warm material palette of timber and stone completes the quintessential paradise home.
Cluny House, 2008
So, what does the future hold for the firm? “We will continue to create refreshing contemporary architecture with an emphasis on the preservation and integration of the natural environment,” says Wilkinson. “We hope that, in the future, we will be able to use more materials from sustainable and renewable sources and integrate more technology that makes buildings more energy-efficient.”
The architect also plans to take his knack for contemporary residential design further afield than ever. “We look forward to being involved in projects in more places around the world. Currently have worked on various projects in Bali, Maldives, St Lucia, Jersey Channel Islands, Kenya, Muscat, Mumbai, and Bangkok.” With its firm grasp of designing in diverse climatic conditions and an aesthetic style with an undeniably universal appeal, it seems certain that Guz Architects and its modern love for Arts and Crafts will be traversing the globe for many years to come.