A handful of new environmentally friendly projects in Singapore reveals the nation's ambitious designs for a greener future
Few cities in the world can boast an all-encompassing master plan for infrastructure and urban design, but Singapore is one of them. Partly due to the city-state's compact size and top-down planning policies, it has emerged at a remarkably rapid pace from its colonial beginnings to become a model for modern urban living.
As Singapore prepares to celebrate the bicentennial of its establishment, the push towards sustainable design and architecture is more palpable than ever. Its 'city in a garden' vision continues to take shape through increasingly ambitious buildings and architectural initiatives. At the forefront of the sustainable design movement, Singapore-based architectural firm WOHA, whose Kampung Admiralty won Building of the Year at the 2018 World Architecture Festival, has been instrumental in shaping the country's skyline with its distinctive brand of architecture, marked by a signature use of greenery that makes the most of the city's tropical climate and abundant rainfall.
WOHA's Oasia Hotel Downtown has brought a welcome note of green to Singapore's core and its high rises, strikingly different from its neighbours with a facade of red aluminium mesh that serves as a trellis for 21 species of creepers. It is the first of its kind, exploring possibilities for a new tropical skyscraper typology and helping to alleviate the carbon emissions and pollution typical of urban environments. Providing a habitat for birds and other animals, the building is a welcome relief from the predominantly steel-and-glass business-district skyline, reintroducing biodiversity to the heart of the city.
It is the first of its kind, exploring possibilities for a new tropical skyscraper typology
Another WOHA project – the newly completed Design Orchard in the heart of Singapore's main shopping district – scales the firm's signature style down to the pedestrian level. WOHA has integrated retail, co-working and civic spaces with a terraced amphitheatre approach, creating a building that looks more like a sloping park than a traditional shopping complex. With second-level incubation spaces designed for independent designers and fashion businesses, Design Orchard rethinks the traditional shopping experience as a public-friendly social destination framed by a green landscape, one that has brought a new look and design approach to retail-heavy Orchard Road.While the skyline of the central business district never fails to surprise, Marina One by Ingenhoven Architects in partnership with Gustafson Porter + Bowman (GP+B) stands out with a distinctive style that unites traditional high-rise buildings with an extensive planted landscape integrated into the core of the development (pictured below). The building's four towers, designed by Ingenhoven, surround the green heart designed by GP+B; the layered central courtyard nestled between the high-rise towers has resulted in a multifunctional public space reminiscent of a rainforest valley. With more than 350 plant species and a threestorey waterfall, the core area is an escape from the confines of the city. The multi-storey gardens improve the development's thermal performance and absorption of carbon dioxide, while the vegetation is irrigated by collected rainwater.Beyond Singapore's centre, Thomas Heatherwick has once again made his mark in the form of a new teaching facility, The Hive (aka the Learning Hub), at Nanyang Technological University (NTU). Comprising 12 towers that expand in a series of ringed layers, the educational hub combines learning facilities with social spaces, creating opportunities for interaction between students and NTU's faculty. Internal open-air balconies open up the void between the towers as well as to one another, facilitating visual and physical connections for collaborative learning. The Green Mark Platinum-certified building is largely naturally ventilated with an open atrium space.Another educational facility pushing the boundaries of conventions is the recently opened SDE4 (School of Design and Environment 4) at the National University of Singapore by Serie Architects and Multiply Architects. It is the city's first new-build net-zero-energy building and generates as much energy as it consumes the ultimate feat in pushing the boundaries of sustainable design. The architecture of the school elevates the lessons learned from tropical vernacular architecture in Southeast Asia with ground-breaking technological innovations. The school is a living lab for testing new technologies for life in challenging tropical climates. Taking a proactive approach in combating climate change, the institution further strengthens Singapore's sustainability credentials and its position as a global leader in innovative design.