The Rise In Demand For Smart Homes And Biophilic Design In Singapore
“Home, is where I want to be. But I guess I'm already there.”
This song by Talking Heads perfectly encapsulates how much home owners are prioritising personalisation of their home, says Robert Brodeth, associate director for architecture at Ong&Ong. Some amount of personalisation is part of any homeowner’s plans, “but the pandemic did play a massive role by giving people the time to consider how much more they can personalise their home as well as the opportunity to address it," he adds.
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The pandemic did play a massive role by giving people the time to consider how much more they can personalise their home as well as the opportunity to address it
— Robert Brodeth, associate director for architecture at Ong&Ong
The pandemic has also increased awareness for wellness. Greenery and comfort are boxes that need to be ticked even more now for homeowners—and not just for aesthetic reasons, but from the standpoint of a need to connect with greenery, according to Kelvin Gan, design director of KGID.
“Some even use balconies to convert as home office or study areas. Bringing in greenery is definitely a must, to destress,” he says, adding that such arrangements also lend to the ambience when it comes to Zoom backgrounds.
“During the Circuit Breaker period, it was interesting to see specific trends like gardening and urban farming taking off,” observes Dora Chng, general manager (residential) at GuocoLand. “While easing of restrictions on dining and socialising has helped to support mental wellness, our penchant for greenery seems to be continuing.”
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Urban dwellers are realising that slowing down and prioritising wellness is not only recommended, but essential for their wellbeing and productivity, adds Iwan Sunito, group CEO of Crown Group Australia. “The worldwide trend of biophilic design and its evidence of improving overall wellbeing at home is needed now more than ever. So in order for urban development to be successful, buildings need to better address the mental and physical needs of its occupants—aesthetics are as important as promoting good health,” he says.
Lush greenery woven into common areas of residential developments as well as carved-out spaces for tranquillity and respite are now mainstays in many developers’ projects. Alongside this green connection, as we get used to a hybrid style of living—with work-from-home becoming the norm—developers are also having to come up with innovative ways to maximise existing design features for more benefits.
For urban development to be successful, buildings need to better address the mental and physical needs of its occupants—aesthetics are as important as promoting good health
— Iwan Sunito, group CEO of Crown Group Australia
Smart home technologies within apartments aside, there is a definite move towards touch-free technologies in public areas in keeping with safety regulations, says Brodeth. Ong&Ong’s latest development, The Atelier has spaced out its amenities—which include a variety of pools, landscaped deck, dining areas, study pods and more—across three floors to accommodate social distancing among residents.
Fully equipped concierges are becoming a mainstay at many new developments to facilitate food and other deliveries, as are business centres to hold meetings and Wi-Fi enabled spaces within the complex, so that residents can have a breather from their home offices.
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The pandemic has caused elements of urban planning concepts to trickle into individual homes and vice versa. It has blurred many a line and added new meaning to visual and spatial continuity and inclusivity in design.
On the home front, “while many people are getting used to working from their study rooms or turning their dining areas or balconies into home offices, they may still prefer to separate the work area from the living area to create a more conducive work environment,” says Chng.
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Brodeth agrees that homeowners want clearly demarcated zones for work and play—“the living room is becoming more entertainment-centric, while the study or home office areas are becoming more private.
“Space-planning and location are still paramount to buyers. They have now realised the benefits of sizeable balconies after the circuit-breaker, which were ideal for exercising and gardening. There is also a need for study or home office areas to ideally be enclosed for better acoustics, with virtual meetings becoming common,” says Brodeth.
He does feel that there is still a lack of attention to good lighting and seating—which may also develop soon enough now that many of the things we used to do outside are now being done within the home.
We are having more clients asking for focused lifestyle and entertainment spaces along with those for family activities
— Kelvin Gan, design director of KGID
With the renewed focus on health and wellness, homeowners are remodelling their spaces to incorporate lifestyle elements as well, adds Gan. “We are having more clients asking for focused lifestyle and entertainment spaces along with those for family activities. Requests like home theatre, bar or lounge area, pool table, games area, home gym, and a steam room within homes are becoming more common as people are avoiding crowded spaces as much as possible—they prefer inviting friends to come over,” he says.
Indeed, the pandemic has caused elements of urban planning concepts to trickle into individual homes and vice versa. It has blurred many a line and added new meaning to visual and spatial continuity and inclusivity in design.
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