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Inside An Architect’s Self-Designed “White House” That’s An Artsy Space Made For The Tropics

9 July 2024 | BY

The dwelling of an architect and his family, this home was designed with a distinctly eco-conscious philosophy in mind.

sembawang bungalow cover image - white house

Amidst the unassuming rows of landed homes in Sembawang lies a home nestled amidst swaying leaves and lush greenery. The self-designed dwelling of architect Sharne Sulaiman and his family, aptly named “the White House”, is a 3-storey detached house with environmentalism at the heart of its design.

sembawang bungalow White House - exterior facadeImage credit: Ong Chan Hao

Inspired by modernist architect Richard Neutra’s focus on client needs, Sharne used a similar approach to formulating the home’s design, rigorously peppering his family with questions about what their vision for the home was. His family concluded that they wanted a place to create memories—and that theme permeates the design.

Gallery-style space showcasing furniture that holds family memories

sembawang bungalow White House - living room furnitureImage credit: Ong Chan Hao

While the White House is styled in a stark white, the home gets its moniker because it functions as a backdrop for the ornamentations it holds. It’s styled after an art gallery, with white walls that contrast against the unique furnishings featured in the home, allowing them to stand out.

The heart of the collection consists of furniture carried over from the family’s previous home, with each piece embodying the family’s legacy. 

Sembawang Bungalow White House - dining areaImage credit: Ong Chan Hao

Alongside these is a collection of designer furniture curated by Sharne—there are  multiple pieces from high-end furniture brand B&B Italia, as well as decorative clocks and mirrors worthy of being displayed in an art museum.

Sembawang Bungalow White House - bedroom

Even the floor tiling patterns reference the flooring of the family’s former condo. The unique furnishings in the home add colour to the space, contrasting against the home’s tranquil white walls.

A nature-powered bungalow in Sembawang

sembawang bungalow White House - zen garden

While the house is predominantly white, the lush foliage that flanks it from every side tinges the home in a verdant green—almost every inch outside the house is planted with native species equipped to deal with the local climate.

These plants contribute to the local ecology by spurring pollination and attracting local wildlife. Sharne told us that there are at least 5 bird nests around the home.

White House - zen garden seatsImage credit: Ong Chan Hao

Extensive foliage stretches across the compound, though the influence of nature is best seen in its 2 dedicated gardens. Both offer a serene place to lounge and wind down amongst the sway of greenery, with dappled sunlight filtering through the canopy of leaves.

White House - skygardenImage credit: Ong Chan Hao

The home’s eco-conscious design is not only seen through its lush greenery, but also its various sustainable fixtures. Case in point: the home has no less than 38 solar panels along its rooftop that allow for renewable energy consumption and sustainable living.

White House - pebble walkway

Architect’s studio and mini workshop

White House - bookshelfImage credit: Ong Chan Hao

The home’s eco-friendly features largely stem from Sharne’s focus on biophilic design—a philosophy based on creating a connection between human and nature within a built environment. 

As a result, tropical influences are infused into every nook of the home, including the personal studio and workshop where his next big project takes root.

White House - workshop

The workshop in particular has a well-equipped array of tools, with unassuming Thur Metall cabinets capable of handling up to 75kg loads per drawer.

When not working on architectural projects, the workshop also functions as a sort of “man cave” for Sharne and his father to tinker around  and build things together. 

An architect’s artsy self-designed Sembawang bungalow made for the tropics


Inside the White House: an architect’s cool, artsy oasis built for tropical living 🔗link in bio for the full feature 🔗 #sghome #hometour #sglanded #architect

♬ original sound – uchify.sg🏠 – uchify.sg🏠

While the design does indeed champion environmentalism at its core, the home is first and foremost the cosy dwelling of a family—where memories are made in the tranquil embrace of nature.

White House - bedroom moving screen

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Photography by Ally Siew.

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