Salt & Pepper is a pair of houses that is a rarity in todays’ housing development - modest in scale- just 2 storey without basement and attic. Using simple material like fair faced concrete and reconstituted wood (WoodN) as screens, the houses shared a common greenery in between and has a Japanese ‘Engawa’ that runs through to the rear garden. The houses are designed completely “front side back” to avoid the blazing sun from the west.
The modest development was requested by 2 siblings who are very ecologically minded and wanted to preserve the old-world modern era architecture typology of a 2-storey house. Their nostalgic endeavour, however, was challenged by the newly implemented envelope control guidelines that renders a front facing pitch roof quite hard to implement. Decision was then made to use a one-sided pitched but paired to look like a ‘bigger’ house with a split roof. The pitch angle directed the rainwater away from the central shared garden space and made a very practical solution to deal with the rain curtain.
The shared pedestrian entrance with the Japanese-style garden made use of the slight level difference and the “borrowed scene” technique to craft a visually inviting entry sequence to both houses. The main doors to the houses are not located in front but further in on the side as one walks pass the entry gardenscape. The deliberate journey on the Japanese engawa is designed to float a above the landscape. It is terminated with a feature stone placed at the end of the visual axis with dry gravel garden and adorned with a stone lantern from the old house.
Similar in planning concept but different in plans and materiality, the duo compliments each other in its architectural expression. The 2 houses are also slightly offset to increase the spatial dynamics as one approaches the house from the road. The 2 are never static when one moves around the site. The master bedrooms located at the rear that are cantilevered over a large shaded patio, are articulated differently with one fully glazed and another flanked by a concrete wall to provide more privacy.
Glass balustrades are deliberated placed to take advantage of the large garden at the neighboring “black-and-white” bungalow. Air wells are located with the plan on the 2nd floor to provide additional ventilation and light to the space. On the western façade, bathrooms are located to buffer the searing heat from the western sun. Another air well behind the screens on the façade enable the heat to escape before hitting the bedroom windows.
This project demonstrates a conscious decision to build thoughtfully without overbuilding. It is careful in the use of material and aim to maximize the sustainable impact. It’s ecological approach in providing shades and ventilation in our tropical weather minimize the use of air conditioning and greatly reduces the energy consumption of the house.