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Question 1: What makes the Terrace House different from the existing home designs in the market?

The Terrace House is unique because of the way it utilizes space and light to create an illusion of vastness in a relatively narrow plot. The design is focused on human interaction with the space. It was crafted to create a liberating experience for the inhabitants, fostering an open and spacious atmosphere within a limited area. This is not just about maximizing available space but also about encouraging natural light, the ultimate mood enhancer, to permeate throughout the house.

Question 2: Share with us your inspiration and concept behind the Terrace House.

The inspiration for the Terrace House at Onan sprang from the fundamental premise of architectural design – to meet human needs within available space. The concept aimed to create a functional, spacious, and light-filled home for a multigenerational family within a challenging plot. This involved, in essence, a celebration of light and space, with each design decision focused on inviting more natural light and creating the sensation of expanded living areas.

Land in Singapore is very scarce, and this also results in land allocated for housing to be scarce compared to other parts of the world. Landed house scene in Singapore is no different. A terrace house is usually 150m2 in land size with generally 6m in land plot width, resulting in a long plot of land for the build-up area. For the Terrace House site, it is even more challenging with a land width of only 4.2m. This poses a huge challenge and also a big opportunity for us to test our skills in creating a liveable space within this tight site. Our concept is to create a house that maximizes on frontage (to have more than the 4.2m given to us) and to bring in as much light into the interior bedrooms as possible.

Question 3: What are the challenges faced in designing the Terrace House and how TA.LE overcame them?

Inter-terraces such as Terrace House are often coveted for their size in land-scarce Singapore. However, they tend to be dark, dimly lit dwellings with poor circulation. Terrace House also had a particularly narrow plot width. At just 4.2m, it was significantly narrower than the usual 6m.

To tackle these challenges, we stepped the façade back from level 2 to level 4 and the living space from the party wall. This creative solution allowed us to not only invite an abundance of natural light but also crafted a dynamic spatial narrative within the home.

Designing five bedrooms and bathrooms to ensure the necessary privacy for each member of the household was another hurdle. We overcame it through meticulous planning and prioritizing function in every design decision, demonstrating that, even in a compact plot, comfortable, private living is possible.

Question 4: There are other crowded cities/countries that are similar to Singapore, which have minimal space in homes. What are your advice/tips for maximizing these spaces and light, making the living environment more comfortable?

In densely populated cities where space is at a premium, my advice would be to think innovatively. Light is your ally, and funding innovative ways of inviting it into the home can transform the feeling of a space. Windows, skylights, and lighter color palettes can help maximize the sense of openness and brightness.

To use more space effectively in a small area, always consider multi-functionality and smart storage solutions. The key in any design decision should center around the human experience and the intended interaction with the space. This means carefully considering not just the aesthetics but also how one would utilize and move through the space throughout the day. This human-centric approach will naturally lead to spaces that are not just functional, but also comfortable and inviting.

Question 5: Share with us a general overview of today’s modern and sophisticated clients’ expectations, and how TA.LE works around the expectations to meet their needs. 

After almost two decades working with clients from all walks of life and in different sectors, I have observed a shift in the expectations and lifestyles of the modern era. 

With increased travel and exposure to diverse architectural styles, clients now desire unique spaces that incorporate their favourite memories and experiences from around the world. For example, we recently worked with a couple who wanted a Mediterranean-style house inspired by their travels. It was our challenge to translate their ideas into reality and adapt them to the tropical context of Singapore while ensuring sustainability in our design.

Furthermore, expectations of homeowners and office users have evolved post-pandemic. People now expect spaces to be multiple-functional: homes have to be a place for relaxing as well as a place for work, and offices have to include spaces for collaboration and socialisation since individual work can be done easily at home.

To meet these changing needs, TA.LE has adopted an agile and adaptable approach. We take each challenge as an opportunity to push our creative boundaries and explore new ideas. We approach each project with an open mind, avoiding cookie-cutter solutions, and this has resonated well with our clients. They appreciate the refreshing perspective we bring to the table and seek us out for more interesting and bespoke solutions.

Increasingly, more clients have been asking about sustainability and how we can incorporate it into our design. TA.LE places this element at the heart of our design philosophy. We consider the environmental impact throughout the entire design process, from construction to the operational use of the space, as well as the well-being of the users. We actively collaborate with sustainable-driven companies and explore innovative recycled materials to reduce the environmental footprint of our projects. By creating sustainable developments, we are not only protecting the environment but also creating more energy-efficient spaces that help clients save costs in the long run.

Question 6: How does Ta.Le put a human touch into its projects to create award-winning inspiring, functional designs.

At TA.LE, we believe that behind every well-designed space is the story of the people who inhabit it. We place great importance on understanding our clients and their unique needs, aspirations, and narratives. Thus, our discussions with clients are intimate, thorough, and guide us in our design process.

In the case of private residences, this process is highly personal – we are crafting spaces that reflect and cater to the specific needs and lifestyle of the individuals or families. Commercial projects, conversely, require a more comprehensive approach that considers a diverse public audience to ensure the space is robust and accommodates a wider variety of needs.

We treat each project as a unique design statement, orchestrated specially for the people who use it. Discovering unexpected solutions for the specifics of the program and context is the foremost goal in all our assignments and we strive to create memorable buildings and spaces with a human touch.

Question 7: In the upcoming years, what does Ta.Le wish to achieve?

Looking to the future, we aim to extend our architectural narrative beyond current boundaries, tackling projects in diverse territories and sectors. This will be achieved by embracing more innovative approaches with sustainability. Our endeavour involves experimenting with alternative materials and techniques, always striving to tread as lightly as possible on the environment and enhance natural elements within our designs.

While contexts may change, our focus on creating spaces that prioritize the human experience remains steadfast. We view architecture as an instrument to enhance lives, and we intend to carry this core philosophy into every new project. We want to create spaces that are not only aesthetically pleasing but also functional and sustainable.

Question 8: Are there any upcoming projects, similar to Terrace House, that we can look forward to? 

We have a range of exciting new projects on the horizon here at TA.LE, including both residential and commercial ones within Singapore. Each of these projects, although unique in their requirements and challenges, shares our core focus on the interaction of humans with space.

Looking further afield, we are also planning to extend our architectural narrative to other regions in Southeast Asia. This expansion is an exciting opportunity for us to take our context-sensitive design approach to diverse cultural and environmental settings.

We will share more about these upcoming projects in due time. Meanwhile, we will carry forward our commitment to thoughtful, innovative design that prioritizes the users’ experience and sustainability.

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