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Multiple Frames

A house by CHANG Architects employs a clear language of framing to engage its context.

Multiple Frames


February 6th, 2013

In the most recent issue of Cubes (Feb/March 2013), we feature one of CHANG Architects’ residential projects: the Lucky House. Here, in a feature on the Framed House, Luo Jingmei finds parallels in architect Chang Yong Ter’s mastery of composition and connectivity.

CHANG Architects

The kitchen in the first storey appears to merge with the rear public park

The owners of the Framed House, which was completed in 2008, wanted to engage with the public park at the rear of the home. Chang responded with a design that drew on the ‘framing’ leitmotif.

The façade is a series of frames that steps back towards the middle, crafting views and also providing privacy from the road at the front. This manoeuvre, Chang adds, also helps to mitigate the building’s mass – a two-and-a-half storey block among one-storey neighbours. At the rear, where openness to the park is more a concern than privacy, the stepping back of the mass is proportionately larger, rendering floor-to-ceiling views from the kitchen and bedrooms to the park.

CHANG Architects

A custom-designed planter box-handrail extends the green into the bedroom

While the framing leitmotif resulted in a strongly and clearly articulated architecture, inside, intimate connections have also been considered. For example, a slit – “a small, welcoming gesture” – at one of the children’s bedrooms peeks into the entrance below and the staggering of the frames along the building’s width results in small niches for the display of sculptures.

CHANG Architects

Staggered views from the attic study to the front of the house

The latter are Chang’s reinterpretation of conventional windows. These bring in light and views without uncomfortable glimpses from neighbours. “[Similar to] the Lucky House, I realised that once you have windows facing the neighbour, they will close their curtains, and vice versa,” he explains of this solution.

CHANG Architects

View of children’s shelving from the house entrance

Throughout, the view to the public park takes precedence but Chang has also introduced pockets of green to bring nature right into the home, as courtyards that bedrooms and bathrooms look into, or “vistas” that one is privy to when walking down the stairs, for instance.

CHANG Architects

Light enters the living room through slits created by staggered frames

Balau, used as flooring and cladding at the front façade, furthers this sense of the natural while adding warmth to the mainly white palette. “I was afraid [the building] would be too cold – steel, glass, nothing else, and it would also be good to see how Balau weathers with time; right now it’s more light grey,” says the architect who has a penchant for materials in their natural forms.

CHANG Architects

A layered experience is crafted along the house’s length

For Chang, the main challenge with the project lay in its section-driven design, as opposed to conventional designs that start from plan. “This project began with the model because you have to [design] the frames in 3D. I started with paper folding because that’s very quick. It was [difficult] for the contractor to interpret the plans and sections so eventually I had so sacrifice my model, which they used on site to visualise.”

CHANG Architects

A model of the house that shows the clear articulation of frames

The result is a home that not only engages its context but also enriches the lives of the people who live in it. “There are a variety of spaces to explore so it’s a nice place for children to grow up,” Chang affirms.

Top image: The house as viewed from the street at the front

CHANG Architects

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