Que Yau Neo’s Singapore House of Glass
No Stone Unturned
Attention to detail is one of the many highlights of Neo Que Yau’s Glass house. Sunuja Naidu takes the grand tour
When Neo Que Yau came upon a single-storey colonial bungalow set on 30,000 square feet of land in the Holland area, he was attracted by the tall, mature trees surrounding it. “They are quite rare in Singapore,” remarks the owner of the Euro Group International, a financial services company with offices in Singapore, Hong Kong, Beijing, Shanghai and Tokyo. Sectioning the site into two parts, he built a pair of identical glass house uon it.
Privacy- conscious Singaporeans may have reservations about a residence such as Neo’s Enclosed by tempered, transparent glass, the open-concept home appears, to bare its soul to the world. However, the residence is more private than it initially appears courtesy of the proliferation of trees in the garden and surrounding area. “It’s not easy to design a house of glass,” explains Cheong Jiong Chian IMT Architects, “but the trees help shield the indoors from the hot sun.”
The home blends seamlessly with the natural surroundings and is designed around the tree, bamboo and varieties of palm and frangipani with the double volume living room permitting a clear view when the blinds are up.
A frequent traveler, Neo enjoys visiting resorts in Bali and Taiwan, hence his briefly replicate a resort-like setting, complete with 25-metre heated outdoor infinity pool. “The water level is higher than the living room so you can see the water falling off,” points out Cheong. Neo swims in the early hours of the morning, hence his decision to install heating. The devil is in the detail as they say and Neo’s home is a prime example, with boulders imported from Xiamen China, to provide the authentic feeling of being at one with nature. Enhancing the resort ambience are two waterfalls, positioned to be viewed from different parts of the home. Wooden deckchairs and a swing – all from Bali – complete the bucolic scene. Inspired by the Riz-Carlton, Millenia Singapore, the waterfall fronting the living room is embellished with lights which, when switched on, imbue the water with movement.
Inside, the house exudes grandeur reinforced by high ceilings and curving, cantilevered staircase. Slabs of black granite from India (where, according to Neo, the best granite is found) line the living room, providing an elegant feel. Neo’s interest in contemporary art is given expression through Pierre Matter bronze sculptures. Given his financial trading background, the bull sculpture, combining a strong masculine feel with grace, elegance and poise, is a natural choice. Bear sculptures also appear in his office, as the market is “not always bullish,” he says. Another Matter sculptre called Accumulating Knowledge faces the entrance, Neo appreciating it due to his recognition of the value of knowledge acquisition in a fast-moving world. Lalique and Daum crystal pieces are also sprinkled around the home, while an eye-catching Lalique chandelier bought in Los Angeles adorns the foyer.
A believer in purchasing the best, Neo’s kitchen is equipped with De Dietrich kitchenware. As he says, “Why compromise? I’d rather get the industry leaders.” His karaoke and home theatre system are also state of the art. The system logs up to 40,000 songs, he reveals, including Koream and Japanese tunes to entertain staff from his Tokyo office when they visit for the company’s annual conference in Bintan. In addition, Neo has acquired a D-BOX motion simulation system providing dramatic, realistic motion perfectly synchronised with onscreen action and sound. The father of two boys got wind of his cutting-edge technology from his sons.
Equipped with a sauna, steam bath, gym and mahjong room, the Neo residence contains almost every amenity one can think of. “Except for the golf course, I don’t need to go anywhere,” quips Neo. Shuttling between Hong Kong (his base) and Singqpore, the affable boss invites staff over for barbecues on the rooftop terrace and for karaoke sessions whenever he’s in town.
The intelligent house is equipped with the Jung system with Bluetooth technology which controls electricals, the sound system, the blinds and the door. Even the waterfall is timed to work only at certain times of the day.
The four-and-a-half storey house is also disability-friendly to accommodate Neo’s wheelchair-bound mother. As he says, with an ageing population and people living longer, it’s important to consider such facilities.
Having resided in the US, Canada, Tokyo and Hong Kong, Neo has experienced many different architectural styles. He appreciates this home for its simple yet functional design. Arguing that some of the best things in life are the simple things, he extols the house’s straight lines and ample space.
As Neo points out, it’s a house which permits outdoor living while offering privacy via the use of blinds. He basks on the outdoor terrace or holes himself up in the basement playing mahjong, watching movies or warbling to his heart’s content. Either way, it’s a home for all seasons.