Alex, Singapore

Spending a considerable amount on an apartment in Singapore’s highly competitive property market and handing over complete control to an architect to interpret your vision into a home you’re prepared to live in for the foreseeable future takes a lot of trust. 

Trust though is what William Chan of Singaporean design firm Spacedge had when given an open brief by his client, a 42-year-old Bachelor and self-confessed fan of Chan’s work to create a home in the newly acquired 47sqm/506sqft apartment. 

The open canvas was figurative, but in order to achieve his vision, Chan needed to make it literal, completely stripping out the interior, and removing all rooms and walls. 

This home is myopically self-centred, there’s no accommodating for guest comfort, no concerns about resale, or how future owners or renters might view austere finishes and brutal edges. The ample bomb shelter, a government-mandated requirement for every Singaporean apartment built since 1996 is large enough to double as a storage space or even a walk-in robe yet serves no other purpose than an ethereal backlit gallery displaying the owner’s admirable architectural Lego set collection. 

In an industry that is centred around creating shareable, malleable spaces for micro-communities to co-exist, it’s refreshing to find something that has been designed for one person and one person alone. 

Alex is unashamedly that. Starting from a blank layout, Chan located the functional zones to play, work, sleep, cook, and bathe where they were most logical for the homeowner, and the resultant space is ‘bespoke in the truest sense of the word’.

Stepping into the home is breathtaking. Every line and every edge is perfect in its sharpness, its relentless march to a mutual vanishing point. It’s architecture porn, full-cover, spread-worthy, award-winning work. It’s not playful, but through clever design, and some hidden features, it is liveable. 

Every surface is white-painted, wood laminate, or micro-concrete. The only colour comes from a blue tube that runs the length of the room and serves as the light, and a fluorescent orange ‘coin bank’, which could very well be an exhibit from the Tate Modern. A structural beam, in much rougher concrete, has been left alone to cut a lonely, yet imposing figure across the home. 

The kitchen is discreet and largely hidden behind perfectly set custom cabinetry, even the hinges, specially sourced, are invisible, yet the bathroom is completely exposed, the only hint that one is transitioning to a wet area is the slightly sloping floor and showerhead.

It’s a space that serves a person that knows who they are, and what they want, and that in itself is enviable. This home, like so much of the fine art hanging from the gallery walls where Chan clearly draws inspiration, is a representation of a single-minded pursuit of perfection. Comfort drawn from clutter, homeliness, and warmth is irrelevant. Even the chair, Eugene for e15 has been acquired primarily for ‘its strong visual value’.

At its core, art is divisive and selfish—Alex is a truly beautiful piece of work but it is not for everyone. In creating Alex, Chan was not asking everyone to love his work, just one person. And he does. 

Images by VC