Project of the Week

Canvas House by Ministry of Design

Read time 5 minutes

  • Design House: Ministry of Design
  • Project Name: Canvas House
  • Location: Singapore
  • Area: 350m²

Earlier this year, before the world went into lockdown, Ministry of Design (MOD) finished the interiors of a newly conceptualised co-living development.

Located in the heart of Singapore's busy Tanjong Pagar neighbourhood, this new co-living space, Canvas House, was created to provide shared accommodation for creative locals and members of the ex-pat community.

Living up it's name - and with creativity in mind - MOD used a solely white palette to (quite literally) create a canvas for the space's future residents.

Take a quick tour of this project below.


As you enter the four-storey building, the first thing that strikes you is the stark white surfaces that characterise the interior; from the floors to the ceilings, the whole space is awash with white.

The MOD devised such a striking, monochromatic interior in an attempt to "provide a canvas for the future", a canvas on which residents could carry out their own aesthetic alterations, making the space something of their own.

I like the dreams of the future better than the history of the past.

On occasion, one can spot original surfaces - including brickwork and timber stair treads - peeping through circular incisions in the paintwork. These small glimpses were designed to offer residents a chance also to remember the buildings rich history.

Before conversion, the building had served as a typical shophouse (a type of structure which houses commercial businesses at the front, and living spaces towards the back).


"When it comes to adaptive reuse projects, the question is always the same, how do we tread the line between the past and the present?" questioned Colin Seah, founder of the studio.

"If one opts for the project to be just about preservation, it's as good as time standing still…. But at the same time, neither do we want to disregard history completely by creating something too foreign or novel. Our response was to layer over the existing history with a proverbial blank canvas. While leaving choreographed glimpses into the past, blanketing both space and the furniture in it."


As well as paying much thought to the aesthetic concept of Chapter House, MOD were also concerned by the environmental impact of creating such a large living space. This concern accentuated their desire to upcycle old furniture wherever possible.

In fact, the majority of tables, chairs, chests, mirrors, screens and vanity desks have all been repurposed for the project.


MOD hoped that through their unique design concept, residents would truly be able to connect to the past, present and future of Chapter House.

"The house becomes more whole rather than a space populated by objects and people that move in and out," the practice explained, "that allows the people using the space to truly activate it and be prominent features, instead of merely inhabiting the space."

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