3 February 2013: “Black and White, The Singapore House 1898-1941″

“Three conditions architecture must accomplish: Utilitas (utility), Firmitas(permanence) and Venustas (beauty).”
-Marcus Vitruvius Pollio (fl. 46-30 BC), De Architectura

In the early years of twentieth-century Singapore, a newly-created, singular style of house stood in stark contrast to the verdant background of the island’s tropical surroundings. Juxtaposed against the lush jungle, still very much present in the city’s last century, the black and white houses appeared to be as anomalous as any architectural design could possibly be. But dissimilar as they may have appeared to their environmental backdrop, the construction of the houses made them a perfect fit for the equatorial climes. Much like the nation-state in which they reside, the houses represent a multitude of cultures, with design elements including Tudor-esque timber frames and Moghul bungalow-style verandahs and broad, shady eaves. Black and White: The Singapore House 1898-1941 celebrates these houses for what they are: a blend of the familiar and the exotic; the old and the new; stylistically innovative in a way that is absolutely unique to the region.

The first guide to this singular style of architecture, Black and White traces the history and influences of the houses, describing in detail everything from the building plans to the evolution of the style. The  book notes the achievements of some of Singapore’s greatest architects from the colonial period, including George Drumgoolde Coleman, David McLeod Craik and Frank Wilhim Brewer, as well as the pioneering work of the man known as the father of the black and white style, Regent Alfred John Bidwell of Swan and Maclaren, the leading architectural practice of the day. Each and every representation of the style is portrayed in beautiful photographic style and informative prose, making the book a classic for lovers of architecture, and anyone interested in both past and present-day Singaporean influences.

Black and White is on sale for RM 135. Please click here for more information, or to purchase.