In Singapore, the award-winning House of Trees with a ‘living’ facade of greenery

There are no token potted plants here. Lim integrated planter boxes into the facade, some of them with balconies facing the rooms. There are 12 trees on the facade. “We chose to house an equal proportion of trees on the facade to shrubs or plants because we think that tree structures and forms are visually a lot more interesting. With a sectional interplay of the planter positions, you get to appreciate the trees at varying heights – sometimes at the crown, sometimes at the trunk – and you even get to see the underside of certain leaves of which some species have different colors and patterns compared to their fronts,” said Lim.

The selection includes the Cornocarpus – a slender tree with white silvery leaves that lends a sheen to the entire foliage – as well as the Tabernaemontana tree, chosen for its sculptural form, white flowers and ability to be grown in partially shaded conditions. Its less aggressive roots will also not choke the drainage system. Another is the Diospyros tree. “The tips of the leaves are pale green so they feel lightweight. We think they would sway in the most poetic way during a thunderstorm,” described Lim.

Her father seeded her love of nature. Hikes in the more wild areas of Singapore are a weekly family activity. The hardworking architect was meticulous about how the foliage would appear not just from the front but also from the rooms behind, and tested various formations in sectional drawings. “When we were drafting the upper planters, I actually did some physical experiments in my office by taping the heights of the upper plants on our office doors to see how that would feel, if the headroom is sufficient, how the plants would drape over, ” shared Lim.

The composition includes a tessellation of perforated aluminum portals that mitigate glare and offset the heaviness of the main concrete frame that could not be made anymore slender due to structural constraints. The deep concrete frame shelters the balconies so they are usable even in light rains.

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