55 Blair Road by ONG&ONG



Architects ONG&ONG have completed a contemporary open-plan interior for the renovation of a terrace house in Singapore, merging the interior and exterior spaces.


The design is a response to the owners request to introduce more light into the living spaces which were previously too dark.

A large void divides the two sections of the house allowing light to penetrate the interior and providing natural ventilation.

Aluminium cladding on the walls of the internal courtyard reflect more natural light into the interior spaces.

With the glass partition doors of the first floor open, one large living area is created connected by platforms over a pool.

The rear section of the house has been allocated as the services area and the front section the living quarters.

Photos are by Derek Swalwell.

Here are more details from the architects:


Architects: Ong & Ong Pte Ltd
Location: 55 Blair Road, Singapore
Design Team:  Diego Molina and Maria Arango. Camilo Pelaez.
Interior Furnishing: YPS
House Area: 288 m2
Project Year: 2009
Photographs: Derek Swalwell

55 Blair Road produces a spatial experience that excites the senses by promoting light open plan living which is unusual to this type of terrace house. This residence brings a balance between nature and contemporary living in a renovation of a Heritage Art Deco style terrace.

Concept- To create a light open plan living space, whilst promoting Inside/outside space. The contrasting relationship between the metallic elements and subtle tones within the house create an exciting spatial relationship throughout.

55 Blair road project is a renovation and restoration to a traditional art deco style shop house.  Originally the house was renovated 10 years ago. The new owner however believed it was too dark and desired more light in the living spaces.

Adhering to the conservation constraints of maintaining the existing envelope, a solution was reached. The residence was design around a young professional who had a clear vision of how the house should appear. The final scheme met that vision.


Click on the plans for larger images

Bringing light into this long plot was an important consideration. A large air well divides the two sections of the house allowing for maximum light to penetrate the living spaces. Aluminum wall cladding wraps around the void. The aluminum bands reflect light into the living spaces.


The courtyard acts not only as a large light well but also encourages natural ventilation within the house. The intricate linear bands are a modern contrast that reflects the traditional ornate façade. This metallic architectural language used throughout the scheme emphasizes a unity within the spaces. The subtle tones and metallic elements complement each other to create a common theme throughout the house.


Continuity of space was a key concept to promote the relationship of outside/inside space. The First floor employs flexible glazed walls that lead directly to the pool.  The main section of the house is separated by the out door pool and frangipani garden. When both sides of the glazed partitions are open the first floor becomes one large space. The scheme proves to be an approach that promotes diversity of space. The ground floor is not only a lounge and dinning area it is an ideal place to relax and sit poolside. The intention to create a diverse space on the first floor adds great value and appeal to a property this size.


The TV and music appliances are hidden in recesses in the wall that are concealed when not in use buy larges pieces of art; this reiterates the concept of continuity of spaces. The lighting can be controlled by an integrated computer that can be used to set lighting moods within the house.


The entire second floor in the main section of the house had been allocated for a master bedroom/study space with an en suite bathroom. The restored traditional façade of the property envelops the new living space accommodating all the desired spaces of the client.

The rear section (service area) of the house accommodates the kitchen space , a powder room, the maids’ room and a roof terrace. A steel spiral staircase links these spaces. The internal courtyard divides the two sections of the house however the same choice of materials is carried though the whole scheme to ensure unity. The kitchen has been finished in a seamless aluminum cladding. This creates a refined kitchen space. A balance between the aluminum and the frangipani garden in the internal courtyard has developed a stimulating spatial experience. The contrasting relationship between the organic element and the long linear metal elements provide a suitable connecting space.

Several stepping-stones link the lounge and kitchen space across the swimming pool divide.

The Century Frangipani is a native tree that has been associated with Buddhist and Hindu cultures. The old twisted trunk adds to the character of the house. It is contained within modern elements. This reflects the concept of the house in the way the old facade contains the modern.

The house is laid out on an axis that almost acts as a line of symmetry. The layout of spaces certainly is arranged to this line. The master bedroom features an en suite bathroom space that is a contrasting architectural language to that of the façade. It is a glazed box that cantilevers over the pool area. This modern intervention emphasizes the playful nature of the scheme. Internally there is a total contrast to the ornate façade. The unsubtle architectural styles contrast each other in a way that contributes to the overall scheme. The traditional flooring was used within the modern addition. The walnut planks runs through the second and third floors in response to the heritage of the property. The sculpted stone bathtub sits at the edge of the cantilevered box overlooking the pool and garden below. The other bathroom fixtures are constructed in a similar stone. However the bathtub is the key architectural feature that completes the bathroom

Another appealing feature of the master bedroom is that there is a large void that allows a view down to the first floor. The plan of the Master bedroom space is true to the axial layout of the house. Integrated symmetrical bookshelves line the walls that lead to the study area.

To overcome the constraint of maintaining the height of the second floor a new mezzanine space was created to accommodate an additional guest bedroom in the attic space. A jack roof was necessary to allow sufficient light into the attic. Light is able to penetrate through the house

The main spiral staircase depicts a rhythmic ribbon that ascends to attic space. This key architectural feature acts as a central pin through the main section of the residence. Naturally lit by a roof cylindrical skylight that creates a vertical strik that can reach the bottom part of the stairs.  This organic approach reflects the natural aspects of the house with a modern interpretation. On the second and third floors the stairwell is encased in a stainless steel mesh. This detaches the circulation space and spatially breaks up the bedroom areas

The wall-less design of the spaces allows cross-ventilation through the house, a very desirable element on Singapore's extremely humid weather. This contributes to reduce the need for air-conditioning.  A home automation system controls the lighting on the main building, creating different moods and settings, and specially minimizing the energy consumption.

The overall scheme successfully establishes a relationship between inside and outside space. The approach of situating a swimming pool in the center of the house produces a space that is diverse and suitable to a range of activities. The benefits of the flexible space leading to the air well gives the occupant the option of creating a different type of space within the house. The aluminum clad air well draws light into the residence ensuring a well-let open plan living space meeting the client’s desires.

Posted on Saturday September 12th 2009 at 12:04 am by Brad Turner. Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • auio

    WTF! They’ve wrapped their books in white paper…

  • It’s great,at 1st view I feel like I am in a art gallery! The opening of the interior to the exterior and vice versa gives a freedom that remains intimate! The choice of shapes, colors and the division of this house is perfect (to my taste).


    Francois Beydoun

  • great – sensation white ;) love it

  • danielle

    The idea of having aluminium cladding for the walls of the internal courtyard is wrong. Living in the tropics, the designers should have known better that metals are great conductors of heat and will draw more heat into the courtyard space instead of dissipating it, thus creating an oven heated interior. Precast concrete slabs or timber would have been a better choice. So much for aesthetics over function !

  • Obayashi

    All these white walls, sparesly furnished minimalistic interior are SO yesterday. And a bookshelve stuffed with white books ? And why not have a wardrobe of only white clothes to go with the look? What a constraint, mechanical and contrived lifestyle. Not natural at all.

  • pablo

    it is like an argentinian house of the years 30, the “casa chorizo”, its fully of troubles in a fucntionaly way, (sorry my english, im from latin america and englsh its my thrd lenguaje)

  • Says

    For gods sake dezeen, please put up high resolution pics!!. This project alreday mentioned in other sites has got better quality pics.

  • apple

    i think this is astonishing

  • Hi Says, until this week our version of WordPress didn’t allow us to publish bigger images easily.

    However this story has larger plans you can view by clicking the ones in the post – we’ve done this for the first time in response to requests from readers – and we could in theory do this with all our images in future, if readers want it. Would that make you happy?!

  • Hol

    YESYESYES, bigger images! Please

  • Kong

    Just great, i would like to live there.

  • Archandy

    I absolutely love the pool design, What a nice space. Not so sure about the spiral stairs….



    • accesskb

      Most people aren’t an alcoholic like you ;D

  • m


    it most defenitely would

  • angry catalan

    @ danielle: using metals for the outer (street) side of a facade is not a bad idea in hot climates as long as the inner side is well insulated.

    Of course this is is the exact reverse, but at any rate the courtyard will produce lots of Venturi-effect air flow so I don’t think it’ll really be such a big problem.

  • I really love the chinese chair and white house

  • Very nice :) I like the white colour in interiors, also the connection with two parts of house.

  • Very pleasing to look at & yet I always find it hard to imagine the people who are going to live out their lives in these sort of spaces. Do they have lives or only life-syles ? Is the ultimate result a reflection of themselves or the concept of others imposed, albeit willingly, upon them ? The image that leaps to mind is that of a soul in a straight-jacket & it gives me the shivers.

  • Dennis Wells

    …the white book covers were a step too far.

  • leandro locsin

    good job if its 1920’s ! this is an old formula of old modernism. inside-outside relationship, piet-ish volumes, white fetish, corbu spiralling stairs, wright-ish technique of hugging a tree using architectural elements.

    this is 9 decades too late.

  • Jimmy


    You probably have zero idea about thermal dynamics. Metals painted white dissipate heat faster than gaining it, especially aluminium. Them in a fin-like arrangement take cues from CPU fan coolers which incidentally cool millions of computer chips in the world. It is also no surprise they are best made from aluminium too.

    If the owners asked for it, they build it, they will love to live in it. They probably are wondering how you guys manage to live in your own chaotic and uncoordinated lives. So please DO NOT TEACH OTHERS how to live their lives!

  • angry catalan

    Don’t be silly. Just because the designers are stupid enough to shoot a photo as ridiculous as the one with the white books doesn’t mean you can’t use the house as any other house.

  • KB

    Nice to look at, hot to live in? Why not put up pictures taken in daytime tropical heat?

  • Illinois

    what if it rains?

  • pinakel
  • tanya telford – T

    really like the connecting courtyard space plus the contrast of the original Art Deco façade and the interior.

    (I think the bigger plan images are helpful)

  • pinakel

    yep agree with tanya telford – T “bigger plan images are helpful”

  • zynk

    Absolutely brilliant though it may be a bit of a pain on a rainy day!

  • famul

    So, everytime you want to cook or eat, you have to cross the pool (outdoors)? It doesn’t make sense!
    Love the facade.

  • i love it and in response to those ppl who comment on how hard it is too live in these white ‘lifestyle’ spaces, its easy – you just have to have sufficient storage to hide all your clutter.
    my humble apartment is also white and empty but i don’t feel restricted

  • MC

    incredible space transformed in a great atmosfere,
    I think not all have the same sensibility of yours
    and for this one are not happy.
    The function is not on the tube,
    the section of the house it’s perfect for the ventilation
    and the decorated panels in aluminium are an emotional frame
    for who visit the house and for who live.

  • Thanks for the high res plans!

  • Jamie Busch

    So, every book on the shelf is covered over in white paper, and yet you proudly display a photograph of Mao Zedong? Thanks for ruining an otherwise interesting piece of architecture. When will modernist architecture divorce itself from insipid Socialist political posturing. Disgusting. Spoiled the building for me.

  • Rudy

    The vertical lines in the panels make it look like bars. Reminds me of a prison.
    I like the detached kitchen and the way you have to get there.

  • MD

    For me as well, the Mao picture is offensive. Millions of Chinese died because of his policies. No one with work being showcased in the international arena would use a picture of Hitler or Stalin as decor. Moreover, the books covered in white coupled with the picture of Mao make me think of book banning and burning. I do like the pool and frangipangi tree, though.

  • Tifsport

    How will you get from your bedroom to the kitchen if it is raining?

  • susu

    i feel like walking around (almost) naked in this place, too sexy…superb!!!

    Tifsport, there’s an umbrella in the drawer under the books.

  • tanya telford – T

    i didn’t notice the Mao Zedong picture when i first looked at these pictures – i was concentrating on the physical architecture, not sure of the meaning of including it, ive read a tiny bit about the people and knowledge that were lost, very sad (to say the least). Now I know the picture is there, in a white environment im going to chose to associate that part of the interior aesthetic with peace & education,

  • paulo

    it’s great to be rich!
    All this houses look the same. Lifestyle for those with money.
    Good work anyway.

  • Zee



    it’s my dream small house