Saturday, October 16, 2010

Challenging convention

Red-tiled pointed roofs and rectangular glass shutter windows were a common sight for terrace houses. But who says that houses should be just the way they are, the way they have always been? Why not make the roofs flat? Why not use floor-to-ceiling glass windows? This is exactly what Kiat Tung from T&T Architect Associates did with Taman Putra Prima Phase 8A by Plenitude Berhad.
With approximately 14 years of experience in the architectural and design industry, Tung, 36, describes his style as green contemporary, featuring buildings that are contemporary, simple, clean yet environmentally friendly. “I believe that architecture style and design moves and changes with time. Therefore I prefer something simple and nice as these types of look seldom fade with time.”
“I like to refer to works from WOHA; a Singapore-based multi-disciplinary design firm led by directors Wong Mun Summ and Richard Hassell. They are well-known for their innovative and sustainable high-rise apartments namely Newton Suites in Singapore and The Met in Bangkok,” says Tung.
A graduate of University of New South Wales, Tung believes that to practice architecture, one must really have the passion for it because it’s a very tough profession. Together with his two partners, Yardly Cheng and Edwin Teo, he established T&T Architect Associates in 2002. With a workforce of 20 staff, his firm has successfully undertaken many designs for high-end residential projects by major property developers.

Trust and understanding
“Plenitude gave us our first project, that is Phase 3B, with a total of 300 units of terrace houses. We are indebted to Plenitude (laughs). They gave us an opportunity and we grew from there,” explains Tung.
Plenitude Berhad director Zukarnine Shah adds, “We always believe in having a mutual understanding with the designer. We have an idea of what we want but we never stop the architect from exploring and putting in new ideas. We are willing to listen as we want to benefit together with Kiat Tung’s new ideas and designs.”
When asked about the whole process of this project, Tung replies, “To be honest, this project was quite smooth. The brief from the developer was simple. They gave me the general guideline and idea of what they want – from the built-up and number of rooms to the selling price, but not so much on interior design.”

Design and concept of Taman Putra Prima
Upon entering the showhouse, one is greeted by its spaciousness, thanks in part to the 13ft high ceiling. Elaborating on his approach to design, Tung says, “Basically, we wanted to create a new trend for terrace houses that would stand out; something that is unlike any other terrace houses. For Taman Putra Prima, the concept is simple – stylish contemporary design yet sustainable. We have big glass windows to allow daylight to illuminate the interior but we have the screens to shade it. With natural lightings, the homeowners can choose not to turn on the lights during the day, hence saving electricity and money."
Playing with space: The unique design, high ceilings and split levels are what makes this development different
“In terms of architecture, we played with space. We pushed up the master bedroom so it sits at the top of the building. This gives the living room a 13ft high ceiling, making it look spacious. For corner lots, we designed a lanai – a corner to sit back and relax. For the exterior, you can see that the roof is not like the common ones we see – all with pointed roofs. We wanted to go for the modern look, therefore we made the roofs flat.
“It is these simple things that give the house its amazing quality; truly different from the rest,” says Tung.
For Tung, his favourite part of the house is the master bedroom. “To maximise space, I built the master bedroom on the top of the living room. Interior wise, the house looks as if it’s a two-and-a-half storey, but in actual fact it’s just two storeys. I like the fact that the master bedroom is on its own – giving owners their well-deserved privacy,” he shares.
As for Zukarnine, he stresses on the importance of always improving and learning as they grow as a developer. “The underlying concept of this whole development is still the same as what we envisioned since our first phase; a conducive living and value-for-money development in terms of space. We are always receptive to the feedback and comments of our previous purchasers. However, the element of design has improved as we go along.
“The strong features that I particularly like are the high ceilings, split levels, the clever use of lightings, and the unique design and usage of space.”

A progressive firm
Apart from architecture and interior consultancy work, Tung and his team has also worked on master planning of townships, but he has not done many of those. When asked for design tips and ideas for homeowners, Tung shares, “Well, ideas are easily accessible these days. One can easily get ideas from the Internet and magazines. If you think quality design costs a lot, you are wrong. It’s not about expensive things, but rather using a mix and match of the right material.
For me, I like the idea of dressing up a casual area with an accent piece; something unique and iconic. It gives that added twist of sophistication to the design.”

source: TheStar

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