To accommodate the day-to-day routines of two parents and their two toddler children, Taiwanese studio HAO Design has divided this 3,900sqft, five-level home into distinct functional zones – so the kids have more autonomy, while their parents can enjoy a little more privacy when they need it.
“The daily routines of adults and children are very different,” says the project’s designer, Ivan Cheng, who considered the needs of both when designing this family home in Kaohsiung.
The first two floors, which are located above a basement parking and storage area, have a light colour scheme and are where the family spend most of their time together. The two more sequestered upper levels are where the parents can work, exercise or relax without the children.
The family living room, an open-plan kitchen and dining area, a toilet and an outdoor patio are located on the first floor, where large, arched thresholds connect the lounging and dining zones. Blue-grey kitchen cabinetry, elegant wooden panels and rails, and white walls and window frames give the kitchen an American country-house feel, while brass and gold lamps add a splash of sophisticated urbanity to the space.
Two adjoining children’s bedrooms, a storage room, a laundry space and an open study area are located on the second floor. Between the two bedrooms is a sliding door that opens to join the sleeping areas or can stay closed to separate them.
On the third floor is the master bedroom, a guest room, a dressing room and a luxurious, Manhattan loft-inspired master bathroom with a soaking tub. The lower part of the shower-stall wall in this bathroom is lined with railway tiles, but the upper section is fitted with black-framed frosted glass to draw in natural light that enters the apartment through the sliding doors between the third and fourth floors.
Drawing inspiration from the Batman movies and industrial lofts, Ivan designed the basement and the top two levels as sultry, den-like spaces, with sleek, contemporary elements. On the fourth floor, in front of a red brick wall, is a TV lounge and wet bar where mum and dad can spend quality time together once the kids are in bed, as well as a gym corner where they can work out in the morning.
One of the apartment’s most eye-catching features is a black iron spiral staircase that ascends from the fourth-floor adult leisure area up to a mezzanine study. “The spiralling railings of the staircase resemble the endless pirouettes of the Black Swan ballet performance,” explains Ivan. “It not only makes effective use of the space below, but also creates a romantic ascent towards the skylight. This spiral staircase also presents 360-degree views of the magnificent ‘bookcase wall’ under the inclined roof.” When needed, the staircase can also be closed off to prevent the children from running up and down it unsupervised.
“The house has a slanting roof and in most homes, attic spaces near pitched roofs tend to go to waste,” says Ivan. “We avoided this by creating a new mezzanine study between the fourth floor and the pitched ceiling, where the couple can gaze up at the starlit sky through a skylight on one side of the sloping roof.”
Because the design needed to accommodate floor heating and ventilation systems, the biggest challenge for Ivan was ensuring that the allocation of spaces and engineering work was accurate so the project could be constructed as planned.
The material palette includes cement kiln tiles, black woodgrain tiles, iron-grey metal veneer panels, Lotos cement, stained oak boards, forged iron handles, Chinese fir boards for the attic, imitation-aged bookcase panels, crystal-carved glass, woodgrain cement boards, toned blackboard paint and oak-coloured woodgrain tiles. Most of the loose furniture used was sourced from Chinese furniture brand ZaoZuo and Danish label Hay.
“We decided to use minimal ornamentation and have the programme defined instead by the furniture, which can be moved to adapt to the family’s changing lifestyle,” concludes Ivan. “Beautiful details are celebrated through a balanced flow, which in turn brings a sense of discovery to a seemingly ordinary independent home.”