“The Crate Apartment is outstanding because it has gone beyond the boundaries of mere surface decoration or simply creating a liveable space. The ambition to redefine the typology of a five-room flat is brilliant and exciting.” So reads the jury citation for the Lookbox Design awards 2017 Home of the Year, and award-giving to the Crate Apartment by Upstairs.
The home, which is located in Singapore, came about as a request that included “a picture of a red shipping container in the middle of the room.” Homeowner Keith recounts, “We wanted something different and a bit more out of the box. Ironically, we achieved that by actually building a box. So you can say we thought out of the box with a box.” With the help of Dennis Cheok from the design studio Upstairs, the family was able to land on the Crate Apartment.
The build started with tearing out every wall from every room and stripping the 1,400 square foot apartment down to just the structural columns. Instead of a red shipping container, as the picture showed, Cheok went with a wooden box—or crate—made out of plywood. “I wanted to be sure that the crate looks separate from the home as if it’s a separate structure,” stated Cheok.
“So everything within the crate has a timber aesthetic.” With the box in the middle of the home, hallways were created around its perimeter, which led to the formation of the living room, dining room, kitchen, and master bedroom areas of the home. The interior of the crate serves as a private room as well. “To think we started out with wanting to take a shipping container and dropping it in the centre of the home,” contemplates Keith. “This is a much better idea, with even better results.”