Lambda, a geometrical description of space, is near Singapore’s east coast and set in a very suburban sea of red-tiled pitched rooves in a mix of classical and modern pastiche. Its design was inspired by a scale model of the new Lamborghini ‘Gallardo’.
The model Lamborghini suggested two triangles that mirror one another, creating an off-set shape and interlocking figures. This, in turns, feeds into the idea contained in the name of the house – lambda, λ, the Greek letter used to signify the notion of a wavelength, a triangulated formal composition of apparent opposites held in dynamic tension. This, then, was elaborated to pick up on the spaceship image: the house’s aero foil screens cantilever 20 metres out to form the protective canopy or the porte cochère of the car parking; the aluminum-clad roof with the extruded flaps at the rear of the attic sitting room; and the attic’s louver which serves as the air-intake of an engine room. These elements contributed to the image of a spaceship which has just landed or is about to take off.
The driving image was of a weightless building whose only structure would be the exoskeleton, a space frame containing the house itself. Two triangles cantilever off one another ─ one chamfered at the rear to add to the aerodynamic quality ─ with the whole structure seemingly balanced on a single point. The large glazed walls of the house are set well back from the exoskeleton and adds to the impression of delicately poised composition of triangular forms. The framework also provided a solution to the issue of a suitable attic.
One of the greatest difficulties faced at the early stage of the design was Singapore’s restrictive code that imposes a pitch roof with very distinctive geometric conditions. The challenge was to comply to the regulation for habitable attic spaces in a bungalow while finding an aesthetic solution that had to visually adhere to the dynamically unique and futuristic style set for Lambda since its inception.
A careful balancing of building lines and roof eaves was the key to convince the authorities and allow the house to become a reality. It remains within guidelines without any compromise to the formal character of the building, and it is large enough to contain a study (leading on to a cosy terrace with planters) and three other rooms, including a prayer room.
Generous eaves, along with the canopies, provide privacy and sun protection. The house is effectively surrounded by water – a water feature (in the forecourt is Massimo’s sculpture of a flying fish) running down each side of the house and an extensive pool at the back running directly off the living space and wrapping around one of the rear corners of the house ─ facilitating natural cooling.
The interiors are notable for their space and opulence. It contains many custom-designed pieces which serve to unify the interior and the exterior in an integrated design scheme. The core of the house is the dining hall which rises over two storeys and is overlooked by a second storey gallery. The dining table is a ten-metre long monolith of white quartz with two stainless steel stems whose triangular profile references the exterior stanchions of the house. There is a customised bar counter with travertine-clad face that seems to grow out of the floor. Coloured coffee tables are made from duramite, and red, white and pink quartz, and a large red table can be found in the attic study. The triangulated legs of the pool table also reference the house’s outer form.
On the second storey, there are two double-height symmetrical bedrooms of equal size, differentiated by their palettes – one in classical beige tones, the other in silver and contrasting red, and with an elaborate false ceiling that features gold and silver leaf lining. The master bathroom is equally luxurious with a large tiger onyx countertop and a Jacuzzi bath tub in the centre of the room.
Lambda represents a unity between the exterior architectural form and the interior character of the house. The form of the house is expressed inside and by eschewing complicated furnishings, becomes the main theme of the interior design.
International Residential Architecture Awards 2019
Winner – Category: House Design Built
Designer: Massimo Mercurio
Firm: Mercurio Design Lab S.r.l.
Project Location: Singapore
Team: Kimberly Liu