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Bringing the outdoors in

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Nature-inspired materials and the use of interior landscaping create a fresh, tropical feel in this master bathroom

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Clean air, warmth, and vibrant, dewy greenery make visiting a tropical garden a delight to the senses. However, this seems an unlikely atmosphere for a city dweller to recreate in a family home.

The owners of this house hoped to achieve this feeling of freshness, tranquillity and escape in their master bathroom. HYLA Architects took up the challenge. Through the installation of planter troughs behind the basins, and the use of tropical balau timber floorboards that allow for water to drain through, the essence of the outdoors is achieved, says architect Han Loke Kwang.

"The space is well-lit and ventilated by a long strip window and a skylight above the bathtub and shower."

The master suite occupies the entire top floor of the three-storey house, with the bathroom built two steps down from the bedroom, under a sloped attic roof. Glass sliding doors between the two spaces make them appear as one, while motorised blinds allow for privacy if necessary.

A sunken bath is level with the floor. This creates a smooth transition between the two rooms.


"The bath is lined with homogenous Hard Black tiles, and acts as a centrepiece to the bathroom," says Kwang.

Beside the bath, an open shower flows onto the same dark, matt tiles. These are also used for the walls and benchtop, and give the look of natural stone. As the shower is open, it provides a reference to a style of bathroom that might be seen in a pool house, thus furthering the outdoor theme.

Also adding to this design theme is the use of blinds and walls, which block out the city street, creating a feeling of escape. The bustling road below is masked from view and earshot by an absence of windows on the side walls. The outlook from the bedroom is directed towards a deck that overlooks a leafy view of a park across the road – exaggerating this feeling of being away from it all.

On this and a lower floor deck, external roller blinds protect against the heat, as well as blocking out the street. Kwang says these blinds give the house an opaque glow at night.

"The translucent blinds create a soft, diffused light when the sun is behind them. And they screen out a nearby condominium block, which could otherwise have dominated the outlook."

In order to be able to study in seclusion, the homeowners wanted to include a study space in their master suite. HYLA Architects custom-designed the bedhead to double up as a desk, so the homeowners are able to take in a pleasant view when they wake, and while they work.

First published date: 14 July 2008

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