Old Meets New in a Singapore Shophouse
Four and a half years ago, when Michael and Katherin Puhaindran learned their first child was on the way, they started house-hunting in Joo Chiat, a blossoming heritage enclave near Singapore’s East Coast, known as an ethnic food haven of Chinese durian puffs, Peranakan dumplings, Vietnamese pho, American ribs and more.
四年半前，当迈克尔(Michael)和凯瑟琳·普辛德南(Katherin Puhaindran)夫妇得知他们的第一个孩子将要出世时，他们开始在如切(Joo Chiat)找房。如切是新加坡东海岸附近的一个富有历史风情的繁华地区，其闻名之处在于，它是一个领略民族风味的港湾，在这里可以品尝到中国的榴莲酥、土生华人粽子、越南河粉、美式排骨等。
Mr. Puhaindran fondly remembers his family’s long history in Joo Chiat. “I came here every weekend to visit my grandmother,” he said. “And my Tamil ancestor helped build the nearby Ceylon Road Temple in the early 19th century — about 100 years before my mother’s Chinese ancestors moved here.”
The new rear block transforms from day to night. Metallic screens offer texture and privacy.
The couple quickly settled on a 1920s shophouse, a Southeast Asian architectural style that is highly prized because it is in limited supply. “This one had the most character,” said Mr. Puhaindran, a local bank solicitor. “It was a no-brainer.” He and his wife enjoy the neighborhood, which teems with amenities, including their daughter’s preschool, which is a 10-minute walk away.
The Puhaindrans’ home, tucked in the middle of a conservation block, is flanked by similar terraced homes. Each has interlocking terra cotta roof tiles, French double-shuttered windows evenly spaced across the facade, ornate garlands of molded plasterwork and sheltered “five foot” connected walkways — a feature to protect pedestrians from rain or hot sun that was called for by Sir Stamford Raffles in Singapore’s first town plan in 1822.
普辛德南一家的住宅坐落在一片保护街区之中，两侧分布着带露台的类似住宅。每座住宅都采用陶土连锁瓦、均匀分布于立面的法式双百叶窗、华丽的成型灰泥装饰，以及带遮蔽的“五脚基”（意指店铺住宅临街骑楼下的走廊，因法规规定，廊宽都是五英尺——译注）连廊人行道——这一特色是为了保护行人免受日晒雨淋，由斯坦福莱佛士爵士(Sir Stamford Raffles)于1822年在新加坡首个城镇规划中提出。
According to Julian Davison, a local architectural historian, Mr. Raffles “codified” designs first brought to Singapore by Chinese settlers and later copied throughout the region. By the 1840s, popular shophouses featured commercial business on the ground floor and residential living above.
While shophouses thrived under British rule, many were razed to make room for high-rises after Singapore became independent in 1965. Of those remaining, about half are residential — making them the majority of about 7,000 Singapore homes that have some degree of conservation protection. “Shophouses are very well suited to tropical urban lifestyles,” Mr. Davison said, noting that Malaysian architects continue to use the design.
The Puhaindrans realized at once that their new home required a complete interior overhaul. The house — previously occupied by Ng Eng Teng, a local sculptor, and later owned by the sculptor’s nieces — had many little connecting rooms that made it unsuitable for the family’s needs.
普辛德南一家很快意识到，他们的新家需要彻底的内部整修。此住宅曾先后由当地雕塑家黄荣庭(Ng Eng Teng)及其侄女居住，内部有很多小房间相连通，不适合普辛德南一家的需求。
After reviewing competing proposals, they chose RT+Q Architects, a small local firm that had experience reinterpreting traditional shophouse design. The entire project, which took two and a half years, was a finalist for a World Architecture Festival award in late 2015.
他们审核了多个互相竞争的方案后，选择了RT+Q Architects建筑师事务所，这是一家本地小公司，拥有重新诠释传统店屋设计方案的经验。整个项目历时两年半，2015年末，该项目入围了世界建筑节奖(World Architecture Festival)决选。
RT+Q retained the required external heritage elements and expanded the square footage to 3,300 by gutting the interior and adding a new three-story structure to the back half. An inner front door opens into a sprawling rectangular space 72 feet deep. It remains largely empty and extends beyond an open-air courtyard into a galley kitchen, with a Sub-Zero refrigerator and two Gaggenau ovens. Guests can see straight through the home to a wall of outdoor plants at the back — a “borrowed” landscape that is actually government property.
The vast space suits the Puhaindrans’ lifestyle. Their daughter Liesl, now nearly 4 years old, likes to ride her scooter around the area, and a toy car is kept off to one side, easily accessible for use in the back lane. At least twice a month, the couple host gatherings of family and friends, who are free to mingle without being hemmed in by furniture. “Our friends call this house ‘entertainment central,”’ said Mrs. Puhaindran, who occasionally welcomes as many as 80 guests at a time. “We do a combination of cooking, catering, and buying ready-made food from the area.”
Charles Wee, the project designer, calls the open-air courtyard the home’s “fulcrum,” linking the old footprint of the shophouse to its new rear addition. Concrete walls extend up three stories, but allow the center of the home to flood with light — and rain — for garden shrubs at ground level. A 10-foot-wide swinging door, which was on Mrs. Puhaindran’s wish list, opens the kitchen to the courtyard — and seals it to prevent downpours from seeping in.
“Boxed in” elements lie behind filigree screens or glass enclosures. “We try to make this ‘infill’ concept pervade the design across all scales,” Mr. Wee said. On the ground floor, for example, a screen box conceals a powder room, a storage closet and a staircase.
Filigree screens accent the stairs that lead to a transparent glass walkway, which connects the old and new parts of the home. Though the original design called for a step at one end, the Puhaindrans insisted it be removed for child safety reasons. “Changing that step was the most extensive redesign we did,” Mr. Puhaindran said.
The first two floors are well ventilated and normally require no air-conditioning, while the top floor, with 13-foot sliding windows, heats up during daytime hours. It is affectionately known as the man-cave, where the family uses a home entertainment system to watch movies or soccer. “We wanted to install an open roof terrace,” Mr. Puhaindran said, “but it was far too hot. We had to cover it.”
The renovation, costing 1.5 million Singapore dollars, or $1.07 million, pushed the home’s total cost to about 4 million Singapore dollars, which hovers near the current asking prices of shophouses in Joo Chiat.
“We are very satisfied,” Mr. Puhaindran said. “We intend to live here a long time.”