27 January 2013

Work in Progress - Kitchen Preview

This is after a few rounds of revisions. One thing was very clear from the start. Belynda wanted an Island Counter to have people sit around and I just wanted a sense of space. So... here it is. There are a lot of ideas for neat tricks but you guys have to wait until its completed to see it. Lots of things are hidden. The kitchen will end up being a domestic Transformer Toy. 

Inspiration for Small Apartments

Cool ideas for a small apartment. However, do note that integrating all these ideas into a small space is not cheap and the more moving parts you have the higher chance of it breaking down. 

Nonetheless, a efficient use of space. The logic goes that you can't be having dinner and sleeping at the same time so one of these spaces are redundant at any one time. 

24 January 2013

OMG thats Cool - Sink Counter

Hot off the press. Received a newsletter from the guys at Rexa Design is morning. Met up with them last year during a trip to Italy. 

This is worth sharing. Check it out. Concept derived from an old carpenter's work bench.

Rexa Design - Spa by Giovanni Busetti


Initial Master Toilet Concept

Some time back I gave some thought to the master toilet. The point of departure was to make the toilet as efficient as possible and whether we could do a separated sink area. Well, its not that we really required a super efficient toilet, we have 3 in the apartment, but it was more a design exercise for me. 

So after a bit of doodling, I came up with this idea to have a pivot door that can separate the sink area from the WC & Shower. That means if I'm in the shower, the wife can still use the sink to brush her teeth etc.. while maintaining privacy on my end of the bathroom.

Well just an idea.


I fear that the house will end-up looking too finished, too precise, too designed. I've seen some really nice apartments own and design by Designers & Architects themselves. Proportions perfect, junctions properly terminated, superfluous details, materials carefully chosen with a collection of designer furniture. The only thing lacking is soul. On one extreme it could turn out like an Armani Hotel. 

Armani Hotel - Dubai

The other extreme would be a collection of Stuff with lots of stories and character.
Balzac Brasserie - Singapore

Or maybe the middle ground would be Christian Liaigre. His work is precise, well thought out proportions but with soul. 
Christian Liaigre's Paris Apartment

Christian Liaigre's Paris Apartment
One can argue that it's the loose objects that you put in a space that brings about the sense of "Soul". Well we all have to wait and see how it turns out.

22 January 2013

Cold Day Out - Part 2

Went on-line to check out the spacing required for the fridges. Most lower to mid-end fridges have their heat exchanger either on the side or the back. Thus, they require more space around the sides and back for ventilation.  

The Samsung Fridges require a 50mm gap all round. Actually most fridges require that amount of space. 

Samsung Plan View - Required Clearances

This is pretty standard, unless ...... you get higher end fridges like Sub-Zero, Gaggenau etc.. These have ventilation slots either at the top or bottom of the fridge. Perfect for a built-in situations. One mid-high end alternative would be Bosch. I checked out the Bosch Kan 58A45 - Width 900mm. (Cost $3,399 @ Courts) 4 Tick energy rating compared to Samsung's 3 Ticks

Bosch Kan 58A45
The good thing about the Bosch Fridge is that it has the water/ ice dispenser and the ventilation is at the bottom. That means I can have an almost gapless installation for the fridge.

Bosch Plan View - Required Clearances
If we go for the Bosch Fridge, I would have to find some way to gain 3cm. It might seem like a small amount but when the space is designed millimeter prefect, it's a problem.

21 January 2013

Cold Day Out - Part 1

Went for coffee over the wet and cold weekend and decided to pop into Courts to have a look at some fridges. As you guys already know we’ve been pre-selecting kitchen equipment very early in the project. Some people tend to keep it to the last.

You have got to select these things early because most of them are built-in. You need to get your sizes right to make decisions especially in a tight kitchen setup. (Evermore so for the tiny apartments in Singapore.)

Saw the Samsung Fridges and short listed the 2 sexiest! If sexy had a new name it would be Samsung. 

Samsung RN405BRKASL-SS
This one is nice and slim and would definitely fit into the space I’ve allocated. What we liked about this is how simple it looks with no protruding handles and the finish is to die for. You have to see and feel this finish. The Stainless Steel rocks.

We looked at another Samsung fridge. Nice Stainless Steel finish too and like the other fridge, the edges are angular rather than rounded like most fridges. It’s also a nice size and has a water dispenser + ice dispenser (Lazy Man's Fridge). The only down side is its size.  I may not have enough space to house it. Whats really nice too is the flushed handles.

15 January 2013

Air Division Sale

2 weekends ago we popped by Air Division because we saw an ad in the papers of a sale at Air Division. Now, my friends know that I'm all for Value for Money and where do you get better Value is obviously at a Sale. I should have figured out earlier that most retail store draw you in with a "Sale" and you end up buying non sale items.

The sale items weren't that great. Instead what caught my wife's eye were 2 floor lamps. 

Wife: pointing towards the direction of the floor lamp "That lamp is quite nice. Looks industrial. Can we have that in the house?".

Me: response in my head was "Die. ARTEMIDE  lamp. Ex!" the words I spoke were "Yap that's nice, its from ARTEMIDE... its probably over a Thousand Dollars. Why don't you have a look at the price tag."

Well she checks out the price tag ($1,200 ish) and says she likes it because it feels kinda industrial and told me maybe we could get a similar light to this. 

5 mins later we walk to another side of the showroom. 

Wife: "This one is nicer. I like actually prefer this one over the other one." pointing to another floor standing lamp.

Me: response in my head was "Alamak! pick out another ARTEMIDE light". My words to her was "Its also from ARTEMIDE, just as expensive but this one is cooler. you can actually rotate the lamp shade to face it upwards."

Honestly, I am a fan of ARTEMIDE lights. I won't mind getting one but guess we have wait to see how the overall construction cost pans out. If we have some excess then maybe.

These are the 2 lights she pointed out. I've used the Artemide - Melampo (Table Lamp) before and I really like the Champagne coloured version a lot. (Artemide calls the colour Bronze)

Artemide - Tolomeo Mega Terra Floor Lamp
Artemide - Melampo (Floor Lamp)

14 January 2013

Kitchen Equipment - Bosch Black Series

I was talking to one of the Firm's partners last night about what Kitchen Equipment they are getting. (Side note: The Firm's 2 partners are also Husband & Wife and they are currently re-building their Semi-D.) Anyway they are getting the Bosch Black Edition. Now that's hot (I love you Paris). 

Bosch Black Edition - Hob

Bosch Black Edition - Oven

Well if you got the budget I say go for it. I guess they had to do it to tie in their concept, whereby their whole kitchen cum dining area is in black/ charcoal grey. 

Anyway I think Bosch is a good buy. Some of you guys may not know but Gaggenau is under the Bosch Group. I am sure they share the similar technology and manufacturing systems. 

13 January 2013

Hunting for Kitchen Equipment

Went to the TEKA showroom over the weekend. Haven't had any dealings with TEKA before. Just thought we would pop by the UE Sq showroom since we were around the area. Made a prelim selection so that I could get a better idea on costing for the kitchen equipment.

We did not purchased anything yet but my wife is pretty cool with the selection. Don't know how reliable the Brand is although its been around for awhile. I think the bottom line for me is that its decent looking and its within the budget set aside. 

The only thing that really stands out for me is the Hob. Frameless Black Glass, Matt Black Cast Iron Grids and  best of all Matt Black Knobs. Designers are suckers for the details. It's really really sexy. 

Its really hard to get all sexy items from a single brand ie. Bosch has a really nice range hood, Electrolux has a really oven. 
But I don't know if i should mix and match. more inclined to get everything from the same manufacturer. Much cleaner. 

Things to look out for before buying a place

    Source: www.afterimage.com
    Wall water marks on wall with damage to the plastering.

If there is one thing I look out for when buying an apartment would be Water Leakage. Sorting out a water leakage issue could be costly.   

Some times you got to be suspicious when you see a patch with a fresh coat of paint. When I see things like that I normally touch the surface of the wall to feel if it's damp. 

So far the place our place looks pretty ok.

For some other areas to look out for would be in the toilet tiled area and especially near the windows. 

    Source: www.shinynewmachine.com
    Notice stain marks coming from the grouting area. Normally to solve this problem will require hacking the tiles. 

The worst kind is the one in the picture below. Bubbling of the paint work. Even bubbling normally is a result of water swelling between the wall and paint. Uneven bubbling like the one below is a result of moisture and mold. Mold is not good. Can't image this happening in a home with young children. 

    Source: www.moldknowledge.com

11 January 2013

James Turrell - Music Room

    James Turrell - Spread

I've been a fan of James Turrell's work for some time and have had the opportunity to experience some of his work in person. My first encounter was many years ago when I was still studying Architecture at the University of Melbourne. The second and most recent time was during my holiday with my wife to Los Angeles. 

His work is so spatial and atmospheric. I would even say that it's spaceless as the light blurs the boundaries of the room housing the work. There is a strange sense of calm, a certain dream state. 

I've always wanted to do a James Turrell music room. Can you image the space or the lack of it with music playing in the background. Its almost like floating into the clouds there time stands still. Question now is how do you pull it off. 

    James Turrell - Skyspace

9 January 2013

House Measurements Final Part - Things to look out for

    Source: www.mocoloco.com

HDB plans don't show very much information apart from the location of walls, columns, doors, windows and sanitary fittings. You will only know more of the constraints when you visit your apartment.

There are a few things that I look out for when taking stock of the site prior to designing. The 3 basic things are the location and clearance of the beam, Sanitary Pipes, Floor Traps. 

BEAMS - This is important because you need to know whether you can place a full height wardrobe there. Can you image during construction you realise that your part of your wardrobe sit under a beam. You will end up with half your wardrobe full height and the other half ... well you get the picture. 

There was one project I did where by we designed everything, about to start construction, and the Client's Feng Sui guy came in and said the bed cannot sit under a beam. Guess what we had to re-layout the master bedroom & bathroom. Thanks for letting us know at the last minute Feng Sui Guy. I've got a bone to pick with these Feng Sui guys but I'll leave my 2 cents worth for another day.

                                       Source: www.diychatroom.com

PIPES - Pipes are a bane especially in HDB flats. Technically you can't conceal them. Logic is that they need to be accessible in case there is a choke or leakage. You can box them up but with access panels. So in order to box them up and have it integrated into the design you will need the size and location of these pipes. If not the box up will end up looking like an after thought.

                                                      Source: www.storematerial.blogspot.sg

Foor Traps - Its really simple. If you want to do a re-layout of the Kitchen & Bathroom Sink etc... You need to know where the floor trap is. This will help you make a decision if it's possible to link up your sinks to the location of the existing floor trap. 

House Measurement Part 2b - BAD HDB

Source: Neufert 13th Edition

If anyone from HDB is reading this Blog. Please feel free to print out a copy of this space planning guide for bathrooms. Please note that dimensions are in Cm. Don't screw up again thinking its in Inches.

House Measurement Part 2a - Bad HDB

Plans of our Master Toilet

I don't understand why HDB can't do a simple decent layout. Its not an issue with a lack of space. There is sufficient space to do a proper efficient layout. Even if we want to fix HDB mistakes now, we are still governed by the predetermined and fixed location of the floor trap, sewage stack (vertical pipe) and cored location of the WC. Bad HDB Bad.

I've spent some time over the weekend working out several options and feel this works for us. 

House Measurement Part 2 - Bad HDB

Measures took 2 hours to complete. We had to make sure everything that we need was recorded down as we intend to start Renovation once the existing owners move out. 

There is one thing I learnt is that HDB aren't very good when it comes to space planning. The toilet layout and sizes are terrible! if any of my guys did this layout they would be SHOT DEAD on the spot. To give you an example, they squeeze the WC and Shower to one side of the toilet and leave a huge space that could easily fit 2 sinks or if you wanted to push it, 3 sinks. By the way the toilet that I'm referring to isn't the master toilet. Space for 2 sinks in the master toilet would make more sense. Oh and the common toilet is slightly larger than the master toilet. In 6 years of Architecture School you learn a lot of things like spatial hierarchy. Err think the HDB architects missed that lecture. 

I also learnt that HDB's stardard floor to ceiling height is 2.6m. In private practice our BARE MINIMUM is 2.7m, standard/ ideal would be 2.8 and above. I guess back in those days Singaporeans were shorter.