Aptly named Canvas House, the three-storey traditional shophouse along Blair Road is blanketed in a layer of white — including most of the ceiling, walls, floors and furniture — and represents an empty, almost theatrical backdrop for its residents to “live out their lives against”.
So explains MOD’s founder-director Colin Seah, who also sought to answer the question of how to sensitively tread the line between the past and present with an adaptive reuse project like this one.
Eschewing focusing solely on preservation — which he finds “paralysing and inhibiting” — Seah went on to interrupt the blank canvas he created with “playful peek-a-boo reveals” of its different parts to retain that connection to the past.
Canvas House is among a slew of thoughtfully-designed co-living projects that have opened recently in Singapore — there’s also lyf, Hmlet and Cove, among others. In fact, it is one of Figment’s 15 coliving properties, all of which are traditional shophouses reimagined by local designers to offer contemporary suites for let.
“Beyond a good spatial layout, design can also provide unique spatial and stylistic characteristics to a [co-living] space, making it more memorable or appealing,” says Seah.
Loosely defined as a hybrid of serviced apartment and hostel, co-living spaces typically have a minimum rental period of three months although certain spaces offer single-night or weekly stays. While the bedroom is private, other amenities and facilities are shared, including living areas, the kitchen and sometimes even the bathroom. They are targeted at working millennials and expatriates who are open to informal networking opportunities.
“Co-living spaces support the emerging trend of leisure as work-life boundaries blur,” says Chew Kian Beng, course chair for Hospitality & Tourism Management at Temasek Polytechnic’s School of Business.
“Besides Instagram-worthy and Wi-Fi-ready apartments and communal spaces, residents of co-living spaces can look forward to social activities. It allows strangers with common interests to share a roof without the fuss of renting an apartment. For private property owners, it’s an alternative channel to rent their unit.”
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