Tan Chin Tuan MansionEdit profile
Old houses keep memories. New houses, on the other hand, are empty. They start anew, anticipating the lives that will grow into them. It is rare then, that a new residential building can begin its life with a wealth of history, infused by its co-existence with a preserved old house. Such a project is Tan Chin Tuan Mansions, a redevelopment of the family home of the late Singaporean banker and philanthropist, Tan Chin Tuan. The complex features a new 20-storey apartment tower and the original distinctive two-storey bungalow that has stood on the site for close to a century. Over time, the urban context of the property has changed, such that it now sits in modern-day Singapore where development has tended towards high-rise and high-density due to the scarcity of land. Given its prime location just behind Singapore’s main shopping belt, it made sense to intensify the site beyond its former condition, at the same time rejuvenating it to a new prominence amidst all the towers that had sprouted up around. In so doing, the key issue was to achieve a balanced composition of the old and new within a constrained site. The mansion, that was chosen to be conserved, sat at the centre of a triangular site with a large foreground. The new apartments could not occupy this foreground space without overshadowing the old mansion. After various studies, the solution was to build the new tower block right over the house, with the latter perceptibly proud of the new tower in elevation. By this interaction the mansion is highlighted even more and the new building becomes a backdrop to the old one. In achieving such a configuration the architects abided by strict conservation guidelines, keeping a minimum height clearance over the old house and integrating a large transfer beam which prevented any new columns from pentrating the old structure. The house was re-measured and anything that was added during the lifetime of the house was omitted, such that the original external treatment is restored. The new apartments will house various families of the extended clan, with some remaining apartments to be leased out. Only one apartment occupies each storey. The living and dining rooms of each unit are located in the front facing Cairnhill Road with an unobstructed view of the city through full-height glass curtain walling. The idea of an extended family occupying a vertical typology is aided by inserting communal facilities on the ground, 2nd and 12th storeys used for functions and gatherings. The entire 12th storey is designated as a garden in the sky. The facades of the new tower are exquisitely designed and detailed with a modern sensibility. The full glass façade, with simple vertical lines, and the subtle stone patterning of the canted wall frames the old building and creates a quiet but elegant contrast from the old building.