Embracing the humidity

Embracing the humidity

Embracing the humidity

But Stephen Fisher, a banker with J P Morgan and a native Australian, wanted to embrace the tropical climate. He had been in Singapore for a decade, and he missed the outdoor life in Sydney, where he grew up.

“I wanted to live in an open space, not a concrete monolith,” he said. So in 2005, when 40 plots of land became available on this resort island 20 minutes from the city centre, he snapped one up, paying 3.5 million Singapore dollars (or $2.6 million) for the 7,800-square-foot lot.

“It was one of the only plots in the whole country with ocean frontage,” said Fisher, 45. “Being from Australia, that was prime.”

Finding the right architect – someone who knew how to maximise water views and a sense of unrestricted space, and minimise the need for air-conditioning – was the next challenge.

He said that he chose Guz Wilkinson of Guz Architects, a Singapore firm that specialises in eco-friendly tropical homes, because “we shared the goal of fitting the house to the environment, rather than the other way around.”

Construction was completed (for 2.4 million Singapore dollars, or $1.8 million) in April 2009. Fisher, who married soon after moving in, now shares the home with his wife, Shijung Park, 32, and their 1-year-old son, Scion; another child is due in March.

The design is simple: Two glass-and-wood pavilions – one for living, one for sleeping – connected by a floating bamboo walkway, surrounding an ocean-facing infinity pool. Undulating roofs are lined with solar panels that generate about a third of the energy the house consumes; grass planted on top provides insulation to optimise natural cooling and a spot for the couple to practice yoga at dawn. Sliding glass panels allow views of water and sky from every room and can be opened for natural ventilation.
The floors are bamboo or limestone on the lower level and concrete painted in white epoxy upstairs, and decoration throughout the house is minimal. “I didn’t want to feel enclosed in dark colours,” Fisher said. “From my sofa, I see all the boats coming and going into the Straits of Singapore. With this moving canvas, why would I need to hang anything on the walls?”
In the rear pavilion, the sprawling 900-square-foot master suite on the second floor overlooks the pool; the two children’s bedrooms downstairs open onto it. But the most dramatic view is from an underground room, where a five-inch-thick acrylic wall offers an underwater panorama. Initially, Fisher balked at the idea of a cellar, assuming it would be dark and confined. But “the clear wall solves the problem,” he said. “Even in the basement, I have a water view.”