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Luxury Homes: A house featuring an open-air aviary for the owner’s beloved free-roaming parrots

Guz Wilkinson of Guz Architects combines nature with architecture for this home in Singapore.

One of the first things you notice when you enter this house, aside from an explosion of greenery and sunlight bouncing on water, is the dulcet sound of birds cooing. No fewer than three parrots are spotted – two grey speckled ones nestled in the branches of a frangipani tree, and a third in a vivid emerald hue perched on the shoulder of a helper inside the kitchen.

At first glance, it is difficult to tell where the house ends and the garden begins, so blurred are the lines between indoors and the outdoors. The layout of the property leads the eye through an artful arrangement of vistas, as a pond flows from the kitchen/dining area to a central wood-decked courtyard studded with frangipani trees, then to an L-shaped swimming pool, and into the living/entertainment areas.

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The owners love the clever play of the terrain, especially by the fact that the U-shaped house lends itself perfectly to the creation of an open-air aviary for their free-roaming parrots.

But architect Guz Wilkinson of Guz Architects reveals that the shape of the house arose out of practical considerations. “You have the road on one side and you have a house immediately behind you on the other,” he says. “So I wanted to create a courtyard in the middle, to give them privacy.”

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Also, the plot of land also posed one significant challenge for Wilkinson. “There is a government drain running through the middle of the site because it’s a drainage reserve,” he explains. “Technically, designing a house over that was quite difficult.” The part of the house that sits over the drain had to be completely demountable for future maintenance. “The floor had to be all steel so it could be unbolted to get access to the drain,” he elaborates. Despite this, construction was completed in 15 months, in addition to the six months spent on design.

  • The aluminium trellis runs the perimeter of the roof, providing shade while letting rain into the planter boxes that line the windows on the second storey.

The result is typical Guz Wilkinson. The Englishman admits that clients come to him because they like his architectural style and this house has all his signature hallmarks: a seamless integration between exterior and interior, a generous use of greenery and water features to cool the micro climate, large overhangs and a distinct preference for using local materials. Balau wood and teak wood are used here, as well as stone from Indonesia – notably the creamy Palimanan cladding the exterior and the grey Sukabumi lining the swimming pool.

Passive ventilation, another hallmark, is at work throughout the three-storey house, notably in the middle section where the elevator shaft and the two “floating” staircases are located. “The owner likes fresh air – so we made the staircase open and didn’t glaze it in,” Wilkinson says. “This part was what started to generate a character for the house.”


“THE OWNER LIKES FRESH AIR – SO WE MADE THE STAIRCASE OPEN AND DIDN’T GLAZE IT IN.”

WILKINSON


The second floor houses the bedrooms and the family room, which features a striking teak lattice frame running the length of the base of the “U”. The lattice is cleverly fitted with tiny sliding glass doors in between the wooden slats so that the space can be naturally ventilated – or not – as the inhabitants wish.

The basement contains the gym, a media room and a spacious garage which has been carved out below the house, leading from the driveway outside. The media room is filled with a watery blue light, let in from the large acrylic windows that look into the swimming pool and which have an unusual view. “We didn’t want people to just look in and see a flat, boring wall,” Wilkinson explains, referring to the stacked arrangement of grey stone inside the pool. “So we made it stepped, and it allows people to use them to climb into the water as well.”


“WE DIDN’T WANT PEOPLE TO JUST LOOK OUT AND SEE A FLAT, BORING WALL, SO WE MADE IT STEPPED.”

GUZ WILKINSON, GUZ ARCHITECTS, ON THE STACKED ARRANGEMENT OF GREY STONE INSIDE THE POOL


The clean, sleek lines of the house juxtaposed with luxuriant, abundant greenery, as well as the elegant openness of the architecture accented by the use of local materials, all contribute to an example of a residence perfectly adapted to its environment.

Best of all is the evidence that life is clearly teeming within this house – from the exotic birds and the curtains of greenery spilling from the second-storey planters to the shoals of tiny fish swimming merrily in the pond.

“It’s a happy house,” Wilkinson pronounces, surveying his work with satisfaction. “It’s clear that they have made it a home.”

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