Nowadays, when you walk around a landed housing neighbourhood, you’ll notice many residential houses with fascinating materials, daring features and bold forms in their designs. Indeed, the exteriors of these houses can be stunning and beautiful. Their interiors are also very well-decorated and attractive.
But do such wonderful designs always make for better living in a home? Well, in Singapore, pleasing aesthetics does not guarantee better living. Here are 3 reasons why good aesthetics does not always mean it is a home for better living:
1. Aesthetic Bias
Aesthetic bias is a scenario where people view aesthetically-pleasing homes to be more desirable – regardless of their practicality or functionality.
It can be noticed that some people have made the choice to live in a fancier or smaller house simply because they are appealing. The house may have odd curves or unrealistic spaces that do not meet their requirements or suit their lifestyle.
The living and dining areas may be too small, or the bedrooms may have awkward corners that does not allow furniture to fit easily.
It is strange that this demand for aesthetically-pleasing architecture has continued despite inherent problems that can impede better living in a home. Perhaps these house-owners have been misled by mass media or smooth-talking designers that give them the impression that sexy designs equate to better living.
In fact, a discerning house-owner should request for designs that go beyond mere aesthetics. It is more important for a home to fit your daily needs, than for it to be simply beautiful in looks and aesthetics.
2. Compromise on Practicality
Practicality in Singapore homes refers to a host of factors. These include the following:
a. Function – The house should suit the occupant(s), in terms of the his/her/their lifestyle, habits and needs. Different families have different needs. For example, a multi-generational family with 3 generations will have very different needs from a young couple with many pets. Hence, the architect who designs the house will need to understand this and cater for the needs of these occupants.
b. Maintainability – The materials used should be easily maintained, especially in our tropical weather in Singapore. Natural materials are always welcomed in a home – but this should be balanced with whether it can “grow old gracefully”. This means if it can be easily well-maintained.
c. Usability – The spaces within the house should meet the needs of the user. This refers to the common areas of living/dining rooms as well as the private areas of the bedrooms and bathrooms that are catered for the respective user. For example, for a bathroom – an elderly person will require a more spacious bathroom with grab bars.
3. Forms Follow Function
Finally, there is a famous saying – “Form follows function”. This was coined by the famous architect Louis H.Sullivan. It basically means the form of the building should follow the intended function of the building – to the extent that the function of a building actually more important than the appearance of the building!
Some Singapore architects may strive to achieve good aesthetics and it so doing, neglect the real reason for architecture in the first place – which is to build for its user.
Conclusion: Factors to Consider alongside aesthetics when choosing your new home
So here are 3 essential factors you can consider alongside aesthetics when working with your architect to design your dream home in Singapore:
When designing a home, a Singapore architect should always have the end-user in mind. The architect should understand the intricate lifestyle, uses and requirements for all the spaces within the house. From the living spaces, to the bedrooms, bathrooms and storage spaces, they should be designed to fit the unique requirements of the house owner. Take time to understand these things and then more. A skillful architect will then be able to come up with a design is both aesthetically-pleasing and meets all these necessary functions. Of course, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. The best home will be one that can achieve a good balance. They consider things like the location of the house, number of occupants, and lifestyle of an occupant to make the home functional
A well-designed house will allow for longevity. This refers to whether the house can be designed to allow for future expansion or lifestyle changes. For example, recently the COVID pandemic has made working from home a norm. Does the house cater for space for occupants to work or study from home? Is the house energy-efficient and ventilation conducive for daily working or does air-conditioning needs to be turned on for the full day?
Is the insulation of the house sufficient in terms of heat insulation? Does the windows and doors provide sufficient sound insulation? These are all practical concerns for a home in Singapore.
This refers to the site of the house – in terms of its location and site context. The orientation of the site, whether has an east-west orientation or north-south orientation does require different design treatments. For example, a house that faces west can utilise solar fins to shield the western sun heating up the internal spaces.
Another example -a house in a temperate climate such as Australia versus a house in a tropical climate such as Singapore does mean the house may be designed quite differently. This also means the mechanical and natural ventilation requirements will vary greatly due to the location of the house.
Sustainability refers to whether the house can be easily maintained for the long term. After-all, a house can be a home for many years. Most owners will wish for their home to stand the test of time.
Materials used for the house will have to be easily maintained. This will be different for different types of houses in different locations. Hence, in Singapore, more home owners have been choosing homogeneous tiles to natural stone due to its ease of maintenance.
Recently, sustainability concerns have also brought home owners to consider “green” or sustainable practices. In Singapore, most architects are well-versed with these practices. These practices could see the intelligent design of spaces to allow for cross-ventilation, use of solar panels to generate power and smart technology to save electricity or water in house-hold appliances such as air-conditioners, staircase lighting and irrigation mechanisms for landscaping.
While aesthetics is an essential factor when choosing a new home in Singapore, it does not necessarily guarantee better living. As you search for an architect to design your home- ensure you consider whether an architect can fully appreciate the above practical concerns. Or is the architect just good at designing aesthetically-pleasing houses that cost a lot to build and maintain?
From the above points and examples, it is evident that a better living home in Singapore does entail a well-trained and well-informed architect to create a home that is both beautiful, practical and functional.