The Cranes

Designer: Mark Wee, ONG&ONG Pte Ltd

Client: ONG&ONG Pte Ltd

Category: Life

The Cranes is a multi-shophouse project that expanded from the restoration of one shophouse to include two other adjacent shophouses.

The Cranes are three existing shophouses located in the Joo Chiat neighbourhood, a diverse social-cultural area that encompasses a varied range of residents ranging from the low-income to the high-income, the transient expatriate to the family who has made their roots in the area since generations ago. A culmination of a varied and eclectic mix of people and cultures, the modern critical need for privacy and traditional kampong style of openness co-exists in strange and yet comfortable harmony in Joo Chiat.

Revolving around “community” and inspired by the diverse Joo Chia neighbourhood, The Cranes aspired to reconstruct a neighbourhood within a house that is simultaneously a reinterpretation of a multi-generational family house.

The features and amenities installed in The Cranes take into consideration the importance of preserving as much of the architectural and cultural essence of the shophouse as well as the physical space constraints. The client’s brief – of building a kampong within a shophouse – also formed the core basis of the amenities incorporated in the space.

The organic and sensible interweaving of private and common areas of varying degrees of openness promotes spontaneous and natural interaction among the tenants, who would likely be strangers living within the same space.

Notably, the common courtyard and laundry area provides a casual space and opportunity for conversation while engaged in other activities.

The common courtyard – reminiscent of the traditional shophouse courtyards of old – is another architectural design feature. The courtyard stairway connects the units across the floors. Attached to the stairway is a steel diaphragm wall painted in vivid blue – a striking design feature that is also imbued with social as well as practical functions. Residents may place plants and other items such as shoes or umbrellas, trans- forming the wall to a storage facility as well as a social statement, because through the items, one may also discern the diverse personalities of the shophouses’ occupants. Adding a cultural touch to it all is the innovative use of Peranakan tiles to decorate the wall and serve as a reminder of the rich cultural heritage of which the shophouse is part and parcel.

Similarly, in an assertion of the shophouse’s Peranakan cultural heritage, the floor tiles in the public dining area’s attached kitchenette were specially designed and arranged to replicate the random scattering of flower blossoms by a breeze blowing in from the common courtyard.

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