Stephen Fisher, his wife Shijung and their children, Scion and Miko
Sentosa Island, Singapore
5,800 sq ft
Bespoke abalone-shell kitchen splash back Moon sofa by Zaha Hadid for B&B Italia
UFO sofas by Cellini
Red sofa from Pace Gallery New York
Kartell dining table with Louis Ghost chairs by Philippe Starck
Outdoor furniture by Dedon and B&B Italia
Paintings by Victor Rubin
Design and technology blog Gizmodo named Fish House one of the world's most relaxing homes. Its owner, Stephen Fisher, the head of First Degree Global Asset Management, says, on a subconscious level, it is a place to decompress, and it was exactly what he had in mind before the house even materialised.
Located on a sea-view plot on Sentosa Island, a leisure and recreation island about half a kilometre off the southern coast of Singapore, Fish House is a picture-perfect tropical home with features that capitalise on its island setting.
"I had looked around Singapore for many houses and nothing provided the openness and connection with the tropical environment that would nurture the feeling of relaxation I sought," Fisher says.
"I had previously lived in condominiums, and once home after work, the only way to kick back was to watch television.
"Quite honestly, since I've lived here, I have not watched a single television programme," he adds. "There is so much open space, and plenty of activity on the ocean to observe, so we don't need to turn to artificial forms of entertainment to unwind. Sure, we sit on the open verandah with our iPads, sometimes, but we never feel shut in."
In order to build his dream home, Fisher hired Briton Guz Wilkinson, a Singapore-based architect who had designed luxury resorts in the Maldives, and more than a dozen residences with stunning tropical gardens and pools. The result is an open, breezy residence surrounded by a swimming pool with free-flowing borders; artificial islands that meld seamlessly with the garden; a green roof deck; a U-shaped basement media room with underwater views of the pool; and rooms that all have sea views.
Wilkinson says: "Our main endeavour was to create a residence with seamless integration of the surrounding nature - water had to play a key role in achieving that. The concept of integration is also implemented in the exterior view by the use of curved roofs, which symbolise the waves of the sea."
The home's roofs are almost fully covered with flexible photovoltaic panels, "providing energy for the whole house and the swimming pool", Wilkinson says. "The remainder of this roof is used as a garden, overlooking the sea and the nearby islands."
After a 45-minute brainstorming session, Wilkinson presented Fisher with a freehand sketch of pavilions; a large swimming pool around the house; bedrooms to the rear of the property; and a main living area on the second floor.
Fisher liked what he saw and gave free reign to Wilkinson and his trusted assistant, Caroline Hohmann. "The basic brief was to maximise the view, because when you have an oceanfront property, [the view] is really what you are paying for," Fisher says. "Every room has a view of the ocean, except the basement, which more than makes up for that with a view of the water through acrylic windows into the swimming pool."
Both Fisher and Wilkinson were single when the house was being built, and Fisher jokes that it was "designed by a bachelor for a bachelor". The project took three years to complete, during which time Fisher met and married his Korean wife, Shijung.
"We actually got married two weeks after we moved into the house in April 2009," Fisher says. "The wedding took place here. We now have a four-year-old boy, Scion, and a two-year-old girl, Miko. Needless to say, the pool has had to be child-proofed using a temporary fence, and the media room has become a baby gym." Indeed, the newlywed Fishers enjoyed Fish House so much that they cut their honeymoon short so they could spend the rest of it in their new home.
Although the 5,800 sq ft house has only three bedrooms, it is easy for Fisher and his wife to find and stake out their own private slice of paradise in the indoor or outdoor living areas. Fisher's favourite spot is the verandah on the first floor, which is surrounded by water and looks out to sea as far as Indonesia.
"It's simply a great place to sit and enjoy the sea breeze in the afternoon, and watch the boats go by," he says.
His second favourite place is the barbecue deck on the second floor, where the family sometimes dines under the stars. His third favourite spot, and the room that guests are most impressed by, is the basement media room, which always elicits a "wow", thanks to full-length windows offering cross-sectional views of the pool for an aquarium or fish-tank effect.
Fisher says he had low expectations when the building project began. "Fortunately, Wilkinson was great," he says. "He really takes a personal interest in his projects. There were times when we disagreed, and there were delays beyond our control, but all and all, the project was a huge success."
Building a house is like childbirth, Fisher says. "It can be an anxiety-provoking and painful process at times, but once it's over, the joy is immense," he says.