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Futuristic farm: DB resident Kevin Chu’s designer eco pad

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Through his designer eco pad in DB’s Caperidge Village, Kevin Chu experiments with a new way of living that takes the luxe out of luxury and makes green living look good. Samantha Wong reports.

Kevin Chu, founder and director of DB- based COC Design, opens the discussion about his newly renovated home in Caperidge Village by saying: “In my opinion, us architects, designers and builders are some of the worst pollutants of the environment. Whatever projects we undertake, we always have to drain or destroy huge amounts of natural resources. In our industry, this physical act is regrettably unchangeable but we can lessen the damage by being more intelligent about the way we design and more responsible in our choice of ecological materials.”

Environmental damage control was the number one priority for Kevin when it came to designing his 2,300-square-foot DB home. The project took over one-and- a-half years to complete as he spent time carefully selecting each design component and insisted on working mainly with ECO-certified suppliers. More than that, Kevin focused on introducing recycled furnishings many of which were created on site. He also prioritised the use of ecologically sound man-made materials that expertly replicate the look and feel of unsustainable natural resources.

“Most people still live in the Stone Age, striving to attain natural solid materials to make themselves feel like kings and queens within their own ‘palaces’,” Kevin says. “They want chunks of solid wood, lumps of marble or chrome plate, everything to give a certain show- off sheen to their homes. With this project, I hope to show that luxury living is not about degrading natural resources but rather it’s about preserving the beauty of our environment.”

Through his interior design experiment, which he calls the Environmentally Conscious hOme (ECO 1) project, Kevin has been able to prove that putting the environment first can result in a high- style, hugely comfortable home. The ultra-minimal 1,150-square- foot interior looks both inviting and state-of-the-art, and champions art for nature’s sake rather than simply its own.

In a home that’s dedicated to ringing in an era of better, greener living, it’s no surprise that Kevin also has the permaculture aspect covered. His 1,150-square-foot rooftop is divided into two parts, with a swanky lounge area backed by a non-commercial organic farm that helps feed the family – the Chus are vegetarians five days a week.

“We hope ECO 1 will lead to a small movement and that people will adopt some of our ideas into making a greener environment,” Kevin concludes. “We all live on this planet on borrowed time and it is our duty to keep our globe sustainable and rotating for generations to come.”

Get the look!

1 Reap what you sow. Urban farming encourages intelligent food consumption, eliminates concerns about food safety and reduces your carbon footprint. The growth plot, which provides a family of three with 60-70% of its vegetable supply, is supplemented by a space-saving vertical farming area just for herbs. The lighting across the rooftop is solar powered, and the walls are finished in bare concrete to save on building costs.

2 Avoid natural materials. Well-chosen artificial materials are nearly indistinguishable from natural ones, and they can be successfully used to minimise our impact on the world around us. Used extensively within the open-plan living area, they create an upscale look at no cost to the environment. The kitchen’s quartz counter tops look just like natural stone, while being longer lasting and far more eco friendly. A man-made mix of mineral and resin, quartz is one of the hardest materials in the world, making it a perfect choice for busy kitchens.

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3 Reuse and repurpose. Recycling materials that are otherwise headed to landfill creates a sustainable architectural cycle where wastage is put to good use. In the living room, the recycled particle-porcelain tiles, on the floor and walls, are made from a mixture of discarded construction materials and traditional dust pressed tiles. The bookshelf is made with recycled expanded polypropylene (reworked Styrofoam packaging) and the artwork at the entrance is made from surplus MDF (Medium Density Fibreboard).

4 Focus on sustainability. Materials that are sustainably managed and renewable are an environmentalist’s best friend. Cork is one of the most sustainable natural materials to work with as only the bark is harvested. The tree itself continues to flourish, and the new bark re-grows within a few months. The cork tiles in the main bedroom are complemented by an upcycled shelving unit, a second-hand Italian design re-sprayed in matte white paint.

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5 Work with nature. Unlike most book- and file-cluttered studies, this space is calm and pristine, dominated by a wall-mounted plantation system. The raindrop planters are filled with easy-to-grow pothos plants, which oxygenate the interior and help filter airborne toxins. Over time the space will be engulfed by plants rather than stationery and other office materials, illustrating the designer’s bid to eliminate paper dependence and reduce tree harvesting.

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• COC Design, www.coc.design

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