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WHEN Teo Yee Chin first lay his eyes on the plot of land sitting on a slope, he knew he was going to build a house with a multi-million dollar view. "From the top of the site, you look out onto the neighbouring roofscape, and the lush greenery on Mount Pleasant," says the founder of Red Bean Architects of the project in the Thomson Road area. "It would be a shame not to cash in on this view."
Not that his client had any objection. In fact, the owner of a large retail chain in Singapore gave him free reign, with just a couple of simple requirements. One - it had to be easy to maintain. Two - it had to serve the needs of his multi-generation family made up of him and his wife, their four children, one grandchild and his elderly mother.
Mr Teo opted for natural materials where he could. From the driveway, you're greeted by a facade of never-ending, perforated cream limestone, contrasted with a protruding cube of teak painstakingly assembled with aged teak planks salvaged from old houses in Thailand. Weathered steel trims have been naturally rusted into a burnished copper to accentuate the wood. The perforations in the limestone facade are both aesthetic and functional - they keep the rain out while letting in the breeze and act as 'peepholes' too.
The house has a 'public' and 'private' entrance. Guests enter from higher ground straight into the entertainment room - for an unfettered view of surrounding greenery. For dramatic impact, the walls are lined with the same recycled wood from Thailand, already aged so there's less chance of warping. The decor takes its colour cues from the outdoors - sky blue, brown, beige and green. The family's 'private' entrance is on the lower floor, where the dining and lounge areas look out onto the pool.
Since the owner does a lot of entertaining, Mr Teo factored in spacious communal areas for big groups. In contrast, the seven bedrooms spread across two levels are small by good class bungalow standards. Even so, each is positioned to get a good view. When family members want some fresh air, the outdoor terrace or pool deck is a good place to get their daily dose of Vitamin D. A small gym on the side is there just in case anyone needs to work up a sweat.
Mr Teo's painstaking design didn't just win him favour with the client and his family. The house won an Honourable Mention at the Singapore Institute of Architects Design Awards, and a Building and Construction Authority Green Mark Gold Plus Award for its eco-friendly features.
But for Mr Teo, he will probably remember it as proof that money may not buy spiritual happiness, but it can sure buy a fantastic view.