Following the success of the award-winning Jervois Mansion and unique product differentiation of Hotel Soloha, Kimen’s recently completed House of Mdm SC shows how a small plot of land can be transformed into four floors of “bungalow” space which are bright, airy and spacious, complete with outdoor and indoor gardens on every floor, giving the sense of staying on landed property on all floors of the house.
The small plot of land is nestled between Bukit Timah Central Reserve and Bukit Batok Nature Reserve, and poses a challenge due to its irregular shape and sloping terrain.
Nevertheless, Kimen turned the challenge of uneven terrain into an advantage, cleverly using the sloping terrain to carve out a semi-basement and raising the height of the first floor.
The house is the result of an active and intimate collaboration* that Kimen, a boutique developer, has with the architect, interior designer, landscape vendor and main contractor. In typical Kimen style, the collaboration is given highly personal attention whereby key members of the team are personally and directly involved in every aspect of the project. It is through this kind of personal attention that an innovative development like the House of Mdm SC can be achieved with its breakthrough concept and functional technology.
The house is another example of Kimen’s unique differentiation in creating exceptional value through close collaboration with owners of old assets.
“Landed garden” living on every floor
In the case of the House of Mdm SC, the sense of “landed” living is pervasive right from the entrance at the ground floor car porch through to the rooftop entertainment floor. And this sense of landed living is due in a large part to the presence of ground gardens at every corner you turn.
As you enter the outer gates, a tembusu tree and bucida tree on the left greet you, while on the right of the main door, there is a small but lush fern garden. Within the house proper, a high-ceiling workspace-studio-library sits to the left, while a linear fern garden to the right spans the entire depth of the house all the way to the vertical green wall at the back, where sunlight streams in from the exterior.
On the first floor where the living room, dining, kitchen and the guest room are located, a garden at the front of the house sits just above the car porch and has a Silver Trumpet tree as a focal point, while blue-peas, vegetables, papayas and bananas grow in the back garden.
The second floor is the family quarter and is similarly flanked by both a front garden where a Yellow Cow Wood tree grows and a back garden. On this floor, all bedrooms and their ensuite bathrooms exist within their personal mini-zen gardens.
On the third floor where the entertainment area, gym, barbeque pit and jacuzzi are located, rosemary, lady’s finger, pandan, lemongrass and eggplant get abundant sunlight in an intimate herb/vegetable garden which supplies the kitchen with more homegrown food.
All gardens and planters are fitted with a semi-auto-irrigation system that could adjust the amount of watering by a smartphone app.
To ensure that plants at all levels get adequate sunlight, besides the strategic use of grow lighting in some areas, Kimen used an open stairwell that links the ground floor all the way to the rooftop to let daylight filter in, and allow for unobstructed views of all the indoor and outdoor gardens from anywhere in the house.
Sustainable living – Breezy, bright, comfortable and green
The open stairwell also serves as an air funnel, directing hot air to the air-extractor fan on the third floor to reduce the need of air-conditioning. Sustainable living is further enhanced with energy-saving fans in every room, and air-conditioning is hardly used in the house. All doors and windows are floor-to-ceiling in height and fitted with mosquito nettings to maximise daylight and natural ventilation. To cut down on the need for artificial lighting, glass panels are also introduced between wall and ceiling to let natural light get into the inner spaces of each floor.
The entire roof is fitted with solar panels, reducing a substantial electrical load needed for the house during the day.
To address the issue of privacy, an ingenious perforated screen which works on the principle of relative brightness wraps around the private areas of the house, letting in ample daylight and air while providing maximum privacy. During the day, the exterior which is relatively brighter can be viewed from the interior of the house, but not the other way round. At night, blinds provide the necessary privacy.
A home that works hard and plays hard – seeing what others do not see.
As the plot of land was a trapezoidal shape which made designing a regular-shaped house impractical, it was hard to attract buyers. However, Kimen saw it as an opportunity to transform the non-conventional-shaped land into a highly functional and practical house that works hard and plays hard by creating a myriad of rectilinear functional spaces arranged around a triangulated circulation core.
The car porch serves three uses – a three-man ¼ size basketball court, a maintenance work staging space, or a parking space for three cars with EV charging points.
The workspace-studio-library, which has four work cubicles, serve as “office” space for work, while the lounge or entertainment space, with its a large smart TV in front of a three-seater sofa, can be used for work presentations or a movie screening once work is done.
Next to the lounge space is a table-tennis-sized table which is ideal for small-group discussions or meetings, while the library loft with a massage sofa provides a little “me” or “getaway” time.
This multi-purpose workspace-studio-library is ideal for the family to get a spot of work done or for a small startup of four to set up shop. It came in particularly handy during the pandemic when there was a long period of working from home.
The first floor can be turned into a stage for an evening of music and entertainment with a piano-and-violin corner that flows seamlessly into the living and dining areas and the front garden.
For more intimate gatherings, the family area on the second floor and the lounge area on the third floor allow for small groups to meet.
The lift core connecting all these spaces allows one level to entertain its own guests without disturbing the others.
Using commercial-property know-how in a private residence
The house has two vertical shafts, typically found in industrial and commercial offices but rare for residential houses. In typical residential homes, wires and pipes twist and turn according to the needs of individual spaces. But here, they are all congregated in these two vertical shafts, providing fuss-free long-term maintenance for the essential but usually unseen functions of the home.
One is the electrical and telecommunication core strategically located next to the lift shaft. The other is the plumbing, sanitary and aircon service core found in one corner of the bathrooms. They are well concealed but are easily accessible. These shafts are accessible on every floor next to the lift core and adjacent to the main bathroom. They branch off into a ceiling that is modular in nature, allowing for ease and flexibility in long-term maintenance and future renovation.
Madam SC is a keen collector of art, with many works from young and aspiring as well as established artists in ASEAN hanging on almost every available space on the walls throughout the house.
However, some of the “art” in this house is more functional. For example, the perforated screen that wraps around some parts of the house is sculptural in its form during the day and lights up like a lantern at night.
The shower curtains in all bathrooms run on tracks that makes a full circle, fully closing to form “living” zen lanterns, while the WC “throne” has also been given the “pride of place” as a sculptural form smack in the centre of the bathroom, complete with planters to complement the zen-garden theme. The black metal racks for towels and clothes also contribute to art that is functional.
Taking it overseas
In the house of Mdm SC, Kimen saw the immense potential of what initially appeared to be a poor and small plot of land. Through offering green sustainability, fine detailing and the invigoration of the arts, the lifestyles of the residents of the house were enhanced. This house goes to illustrate how Kimen can unlock the potential of old and out-of-date assets to realise their optimal value. The success of this house is a good example of what Kimen-Seedoe hopes to accomplish with its ventures into markets like London, providing just exceptional value.
Are you someone with old assets but who is unsure of how to bring about exceptional value to your asset? Whether your asset is residential, industrial or commercial in nature, you are welcome to contact us for a chat. Call us at +65-6225 1421 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
*Architect: Jerry Lee and Anson Ho of LST Architect
Interior Designer: Calvin Chua of Spatial Anatomy
Contractor: Harry Tan of Shanghai Chong Kee
Landscaper: Li Jun Lek of Greendot Creations