Black and White houses were colonial bungalows originally built by British colonialists in between the late 19th century up until pre-war era of 1930s. They were commonly used to house European colonial and wealthy expatriate families in the tropical climate colonies. The nickname, 'Black and White' refers to the dark timber beams and whitewashed walls, which usually found in these buildings. Generally, the design, sometimes referred to as Tudorbethan Style, combines Tropical and Art Deco elements with a traditional Victorian style home. (An extract from "A Brief History of Singapore’s Black and White Houses' by Prianka Ghosh)
Our client, and also my secondary school classmate, Justin Ho is a long admirer of this colonial typology; and wished to build a family getaway from Singapore. At the initial design stage, we researched its origin and visited some existing black and white houses in Singapore.
Our design strategy addressed its relevance in a modern context including construction methods, building materials and life style. We adopted many of the characteristics including the proportions and symmetry in layout and elevations, the spacious floor plans especially on the ground. Other elements of this typology are the sturdy columns defining the entrance, large verandas, pitched roofs with huge overhang, tall timber louvered windows and high ceilings.
Although this was a project that is uncommon to our design approach, it enabled us to learn about the design methodology of the original black and white house, with lessons about vernacular and tropical architecture.
(Text edited by PAMSC Intersection Editorial)