Sustainable Luxury

McGillick examines a stunning selection of Singapore’s contemporary domestic high-end architecture and how it represents that vibrant city and its ethnically diverse inhabitants. Common themes, both cultural and climatic, emerge from these elegant designs: multigenerational living—typically spanning three generations—and crowded urban dwelling, together with skyrocketing land prices, require careful and creative balancing of private and communal space. The predominantly modernist designs embrace tropical living with gardens, trees, bamboo, and water features, blurring boundaries between outdoors and indoors by minimizing walls and windows, and utilizing breezes, water, and natural light to create comfort without air conditioning or artificial lighting; the result is a luxurious, intimate, and open living environment. The homes range from renovated public housing apartments and colonial-era shop houses to gated communities, often referencing and reusing traditional building styles and materials, blending old and new, with sensuous outdoor showers, dramatic staircases, and glamorous sunken gardens and pools. McGillick’s unusually extensive descriptions accompanying Kawana’s evocative photos offers insightful context that will help North American readers understand, and maybe envy the affluence, vitality, and East-West mingling reflected in these homes. (Mar.)