Out of the 62 shortlisted applicants from 18 countries shortlisted by INSIDE World Festival of Interiors, a shophouse on Singapore's Niven road stands proudly tall. Sitting comfortably in the competition's Creative Re-Use category (there are nine categories in total, from health & education, hotels, retail and bars & restaurants), the shophouse is a project by WOW Architects & Warner Wong Design that was 19 years in the making.
Completed in October last year, the property at Niven Road faced restrictions, being a building that was gazetted by the government for conservation. The architects and designers' solution was to keep the charm of the existing two-storey heritage house, and add a five-storey rear extension. Comprising of a basement, three stories and an attic, these two buildings — taking up 372m² — now co-exist as Wowhaus, a space that encourages creative collaboration. It recently hosted 'Design in Process', an exhibition that premiered during Singapore Design Week.
The heritage and creative neighbourhoods of surrounding Selegie and Rochor provided much inspiration to the designers Maria Warner Wong's and Wong Chiu Man's thought process. The studio behind properties with the Shangri-La, Conrad and the upcoming St. Regis Vommuli in the Maldives (slated to open this September) employed rugged brickwork and the undersides of terracotta roof tiles to add a stylish grittiness to the interior, leaving surfaces unfinished — perhaps an homage to the shophouse's past as a worker's housing establishment.
Meanwhile, the extension features bare concrete and glass, a teaser to the interior's metal, wood and glass elements.
INSIDE World Festival of Interiors is happening from 16 to 18 November at Arena Berlin in Germany. For more information, click here.