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Housing a new purpose
Artwork in fantastic architecture
26 Jalan Bahasa
STEP into this bungalow in the Bukit Timah area, and you may think you've stumbled into a private art museum by accident.
But no, the house is one of seven properties by lifestyle developer AN Developments. The project, simply called Jalan Bahasa, will be launched for lease at a private cocktail event on April 1. But rather than just show the luxury properties as they are, AN Development decided to work with art gallery The Artling to host an art exhibition.
"AN Developments felt that art is the best medium to bring out the properties," says Shelly Han, associate director at Colossians Real Estate, who is marketing the development.
For one night only, about 35 pieces of artwork belonging to a Singapore-based private art collector who wishes to remain anonymous are on display. The collection is made up of pop and street art pieces.
"We see this as a wonderful opportunity for guests to view the collection, some of which are very rare pieces," says Tolla Duke Sloane, an art consultant at The Artling.
Some of the artists whose works will be on display include Banksy, Andy Warhol, Jose Parla, Faile, and Blek Le Rat.
Ms Duke Sloane is unable to say how much the artworks in the exhibition are worth, but says, "they are significant culturally. Each piece has a story of its own".
One of which is Notre Dame by Damien Hirst. The piece is from the series of Cathedral works featuring meticulously arranged butterfly wings creating patterns evoking the rose windows of Gothic cathedrals. By pairing the fragility of the butterfly wings with the monumentality of religious art, these works engage in big themes of nature, life and religion, which define Hirst's career.
Another exhibition piece is The Swan by Parisian street art legend Blek Le Rat, who was inspired by New York graffiti and was one of the first artists to have an impact on the European scene; he pioneered the stencil style which has influenced many, notably Banksy.
Some of the artworks will be placed on A-frames and displayed in the double-volume living area, while others will be hung on the walls in the bedrooms. "The pieces will be displayed as if they are in someone's home," says Ms Duke Sloane.
This is believed to be the first time that an art exhibition has been held to launch a new development. "The house is a luxury item, just like how the art pieces are," says Ms Han.
The collection of Jalan Bahasa houses are not for sale, but are for lease. They will be partially furnished, and Ms Han forsees that they will be popular among ambassadors, CEOs and company directors.
Three of the homes were designed by K2LD Architects, another three by Aamer Architects and the last by boutique architecture firm Ta Ke. Depending on the house, each will have at least five bedrooms, and two living areas.
26 Jalan Bahasa was designed by Aamer Architects, and is set upon an elevated site with a wide frontage. The 14,383 square foot property has six bedrooms, including the master bedroom which has a sitting area that overlooks into the living room below it.
About 120 people have been invited to the private cocktail party, comprising clients of The Artling, potential homeowners, developers, architects and their clients.
Ms Duke Sloane says that the exhibition will be a "great chance to see artwork in fantastic architecture".
Ms Han says the focus of the party will be on the art. "The property is amazing, and boasts a great location. It will sell itself."
An inspirational place
165 Penang Road
PUB goers would know the two white houses on Penang Road as the former Dubliner Irish Pub, which closed down last year.
The doors of the two-storey villa are now open again, this time as Casa Gessi, the Asian flagship store for Italian luxury bathroom and kitchen fittings and furnishings manufacturer, Gessi.
The Victorian semi-detached houses sit on land which was once a nutmeg estate owned by Thomas Oxley. The houses were previously occupied by the Tong San Association, and by the Orchard School of Arts and Commerce.
In 2002, 165 Penang Road was awarded an Architectural Heritage Award from the Urban Redevelopment Authority for its excellent conservation and restoration works.
Luca Poletto, Gessi's managing director, says that the company has long sought "a very special location to open an inspirational place where the Gessi's world of beauty, sophistication, wellness and creativity in designing the most intimate spaces of home dwelling could be represented".
He adds that charm, uniqueness and splendour - qualities embodied by Casa Gessi - were key in establishing its house in Singapore.
"As in Milan, we picked a location close to the fashion district because we have similar approaches in the way we conduct our business to the industry that most expresses innovation, creativity and style," says Mr Poletto. Gessi Milano opened in 2013, and is housed in a former cinema.
Casa Gessi on Penang Road is set up like a home. "Gessi wants to present its family values through Casa Gessi. There will be no selling or transactions made in this space," says Mr Poletto. Sales will be made in another office.
Founded in 1992, Gessi began with the idea of transforming a traditional product, such as the common faucet, into a designer object with sophisticated functions and forms. The end products are the design of decorative bathroom and kitchen plumbing, with unique floor-mounted, wall-mounted and ceiling-mounted faucets.
Gessi products can be found in hotel brands such as the Puli in Shanghai and the W Hotel Leicester Square.
Its latest collection, Cono, by designer-sculptor Prospero Rasulo is built around its key feature - a sculpturally formed cone that encompasses the entire line of bathroom furnishings, from basins to taps, baths and accessories.
Mr Poletto explains that the Gessi Style Studio designs showrooms for many dealers, sometimes in stand-alone buildings, and other times for showrooms inside malls. "The Studio, when designing a Gessi Space, has to maintain the elements of identity of Gessi, adapting these style directives to the available space," says Mr Poletto.
2 Veerasamy Road
THERE are several reasons why Workhouse is such a cool space. For one thing, its entrance is hidden from view, making it a little mysterious. Head to 2 Veerasamy Road, and you'll see an electronics shop there. To get to Workhouse, walk through an alley, and the entrance is at the back.
Once in, the first thing you'll see is a small courtyard leading to Little India's first co-working space. Much like its name implies, Workhouse feels pretty much like working in someone's home. No surprises then, since shophouses such as this one in the Little India conservation area were once residences.
Surrounding the courtyard are small rooms, which could be bedrooms, but are actually used as meeting rooms.
Upstairs, there is an open area, with steel frames shaped like houses to demarcate each co-working space. A roof terrace lets tenants hold outdoor events, and there's even an attic too. Shared facilities include two meeting rooms, a reception area, a lounge area, a central pantry, and shower facilities.
Current tenants in Workhouse include a 3D product designer, a software engineer, and nightlife management company, The Tessellate Group. Edit Suits, a menswear company, will be moving in in April.
Co-founder of Workhouse, Kunal Pawa says: "My family owns this shophouse, so it was one of the first few options that came up when we were shortlisting spaces. We thought it'd be a great idea to bring the co-working concept to a heritage district in a non-traditional set-up, while the architectural style of a shophouse lends a sense of 'homeliness' to the space, making it more of a house that welcomes and fosters a creative and collaborative community."
He adds: "The beauty of collaborative spaces is mixing with a group of diverse people and getting that unpredictability and spontaneity that just isn't available in conventional workplaces."
For S$450 a month, tenants are given a secure and customisable workspace, access to an online members-only community sharing space, and Workhouse-hosted weekly social events.
Last Saturday, Workhouse launched its opening with the Little India Revolution, a launch party celebrating Little India's diverse businesses and projects with free talks, workshops, and an art exhibition. Some of the highlights of the party included a presentation by non-profit organisation Transient Workers Count Too, a cooking demonstration by Expat Kitchen, and a workshop by Growell, an urban farming pop-up by Edible Gardens, on growing salad greens.
22 Rowell Road
SAY you take part in a floral workshop. Would you prefer attending class in a sterile environment under harsh fluorescent light? Or would you prefer a more intimate setting, perhaps in the courtyard of a home?
Lucinda Law believes people would prefer the latter, which prompted her to set up her studio, Within, in a conservation terrace home in Little India.
Ms Law, a former senior lecturer in Lasalle School of the Arts, rents the ground floor of the two-storey terrace home from the Singapore Land Authority. In January, she started Within, where she collaborates with artists to hold workshops.
"I was first attracted to the open air courtyard which was empty when I first saw it. It had inspired me to want to fill it with greenery and start a garden," says Ms Law. The house comes with two rooms, one of which is her bedroom. "Over the year, I began to enjoy the contrast between the bustling street activities of Little India and the tranquil yet openness of this hideaway studio."
Indeed, it is a hive of activity along Rowell Road, but once inside the house, which is believed to have been previously used by the British Army, it is all peace and quiet.
Ms Law says that she didn't have to renovate the house much as it was charming enough from the start. "The house comes with the details of a heritage building and the features of a ground floor corner unit of a terrace house."
She liked the home's high ceilings, windows and air vents and even the way the walls aged, which she says all add to give a very authentic feel to the space. She did minor functional renovation work to the space to maintain the balance between heritage and city living.
"The courtyard is the main point of focus where the only dressing up is growing plants and maintaining the garden. Even so, nature, left to its own devices, thrives," she says. "I'd harvested wild growing dragon fruits, bitter gourds and there is a white mulberry tree growing from the brick floor almost two storeys tall now."
The first workshop to be held was in January - a Wearable Flowers Workshop by With Every, a local modern artisanal flora company. The workshop was held in the courtyard of the space.
Since then, she has held a few more flower workshops as well as an illustration one, and a terrarium building one.
She plans to turn one room into a small event space, for more intimate workshops such as one for nude painting.
"The space serves as a holding ground for people to come together to be creative muses for one another. It is a green hideaway in the city to encourage artistic and creative pursuits to enable good learning and living," says Ms Law.