The Pent-house

Today, we think of a penthouse as a place of luxury, a suite that sits at the top of a tall apartment building, offering the best views and commanding the highest value. But do you know that skyscrapers didn’t start appearing in cities until the 1880s? By then, the word “penthouse” had been around for nearly 4 centuries. That stirred our curiosity to find out more about the word.

The word “apentis” meant “attached building” or “appendage.” This goes back to the Latin verb “appendere” or “to cause to hang from something,” which derives from “pendere” “to hang” or “weight.” In the 1300s, the word “pentis” is used to describe a small structure with a sloping roof that was attached to a larger building, what today we might call a lean-to. It was the type of structure where you’d keep tools, animals, or hay, not for the well-heeled.
The word “pentis” evolved, by the early 16th century, into penthouse — The updated spelling makes sense, too: A small shed attached to one’s house could still be considered part of the house, so having – house in the name seems natural.

For more than 300 years, a penthouse continued to be a smaller structure attached to the side of a larger building. When cities began building upward as much as outward — that the penthouse moved from the side of the building to the top, and we began to use it to describe a top-level apartment.

Here you see our interpretation of our penthouse project , where we attempted to bring that modest structure back into the interior space. A small brutalist house sits poetically on the loft in the living room with the remaining spaces surrounding this apartment taking up its role as the “penthouse”. The materials are kept simple and not overly finished to acknowledge the lower origins it came from.

214 m²
Jurong, Singapore