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Holland Road talking point
REGARDLESS of what incarnation it takes on, the Mohan family home, located near the junction of Holland Road and Sixth Avenue, is not easy to miss.
The family bought the house in 2013, when it was still in its original state. Back then, it was a white house with blue windows, with domes on the side, looking more like it belonged on the Greek island of Mykonos, than in Singapore. Actually, if you do a search of the home on Google maps now, you can still see that house.
But drive down Holland Road today, and it is a different house, but one that still attracts lots of questions.
Gone is the white house, and in its place is a monolith clad in granite. "Are you the one in the grey building?" is a question that CK Mohan, a senior director with one of the world's largest restaurant companies, doesn't mind answering, as he and his family say they truly appreciate their home.
Their two-and-a-half storey, 5,648 square foot home was designed by Wu Yen Yen, principal architect of Genome Architects, and her assistant Teo Weiling.
Ms Wu found several challenges with the previous home. It was near the T-junction and along a busy road, which meant that the home was prone to lots of dust and noise. "The previous home had big windows, which didn't allow for much privacy," says Ms Wu.
And there were those domes that she had to deal with. The family wanted her to keep the curved walls. "In architecture, curved walls are usually avoided, but here they are celebrated instead," says Ms Wu. Where possible, Ms Wu turned the curved walls on the outside into deep recesses, where she could now place the air-conditioner compressors or planter boxes.
To deal with privacy, heat, dust and noise issues, the home's facade is mostly covered. The choice of granite gives it a monolithic look, but the overall look is warm, thanks to its herringbone facade in different shades of grey. "Granite can be harsh, but in this case, the building looks like a home, rather than factory-like."
The special positioning of the windows is deliberate. There is a bigger window near the top, which is where a bedroom is, and three smaller ones. "You can see the trees when you look through these windows, and they become picture frames themselves," says Ms Wu.
The front corner of the house is partially enclosed in glass.
"I had some reservations when Yen Yen proposed this idea, but now I'm fully agreeable with it," says Mr Mohan.
From the dining room, the family can look out into the garden. "You can almost feel as if you are dining in the garden," says Ms Wu.
For Mr Mohan, he says that the family no longer feel like they are living next to a busy road.
The lush greenery that surrounds the home gets the thumbs up from the family, which include his wife Minnie, elder son Tarlun, and his mother Aleyamma. The couple have another son who is studying overseas.
Mr Mohan enjoys spending time in the family room, watching sports with his son, while his wife enjoys being in her spacious and well-equipped kitchen. "I cook everyday, usually traditional Kerala dishes, and I enjoy baking too," says Mrs Mohan. She is also actively growing fruits in the garden, such as ciku, custard apple and papaya.
Most of the family activity takes place at the back of the house, which is more private and also has an outdoor sitting area, where they have drinks in the evenings. This also explains why the living room is placed at the back, right next to the kitchen.
Having lived overseas in places such as India, Dubai and Vietnam before moving to Singapore in 2004, the family have amassed lots of furniture and artefacts from their previous homes, which they proudly display.
The decor is a mix of traditional and contemporary items, such as elaborately carved solid wood tables paired with leather sofas - Mr Mohan explains the latter are easier for maintenance. The smaller display items range from a spittoon, to antique guns, porcelain vases, brass lamps and iron bells. "We try to bring back with us something unique from a country that we visit," says Mr Mohan. One item that they've had for 16 years is the rosewood bed which they bought from Kashmir.
Mr Mohan recalls that when the home was first completed, he had strangers walking up to him, giving their thoughts on it. "Some say it is very modern, very European, and they all talked about wanting to see the inside," he says. He has yet to invite any visitors in.
"This is definitely a house that evokes curiosity," he says.