The Center for Architecture is collaborating with the Swiss Consulate in New York City, ETH Zurich, and ETH's Singapore outpost to put on a two-day Responsive Cities conference. The first day will focus on “citizen engagement,” that is, how smart cities can be developed with input from their inhabitants from the very beginning of the planning process. Speakers based in New York and Singapore, including Fabien Clavier, Kubi Ackerman, and Mike Aziz, will speak on how technology, data science, and fields like cognitive psychology can be leveraged in making future cities that adapt to the demands of individuals and communities. The second day will be dedicated to the increasingly important problem of rising urban temperatures being brought on by densification, population growth, and global climate change, among other factors. Speakers with backgrounds in everything from urban ecology to policy and law will discuss ways to cool warming cities for a livable future. The conference is free and begins tonight at the Center for Architecture and will continue tomorrow evening at the New School’s John L. Tishman Auditorium.
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The Oasia Downtown is a mixed-use office and hotel tower designed by Singapore-based architecture firm WOHA, which set out to create “an alternative imagery for commercial high-rise developments.” Clad in a saturating orange and red metal screen living wall system, the building combines innovative ways to intensify land use with a tropical approach that showcases a perforated, permeable, furry, verdant tower of green in the heart of Singapore’s Central Business District. WOHA said the Oasia’s living wall serves as an aesthetic and functional buffer between the surrounding cityscape and the building, creating a layer of shade, absorbing heat, and providing cover. 21 varieties of creeping plants were ultimately used on the project to adapt to various environmental solar conditions responsive to light and shade. “Some produce colorful flowers that will attract birds and insects at different times of the year. The facade is also extended down to the ground, creating possibilities for small animals (such as squirrels) to climb up the building and use it as a vertical habitat.” Together with 33 different species of trees and shrubs on the sky terraces, there is a total of 54 species within this building that attract biodiversity and support ecosystems. This variety also provides natural resilience against disease and bugs, ensuring a more healthy long-term system. The building's structure is constructed of a reinforced concrete frame wrapped in a three-layer building envelope assembly: an internal curtain wall, prefabricated fiberglass planters set on an integrated reinforced concrete ledge, and an expanded aluminum mesh that serves as a climbing base for greenery. Planters tap into an automatic irrigation system and are positioned within easy reach of an inner ring of maintenance catwalks located on every floor of the tower. This architecture provides simple, low-tech maintenance avoiding the need for costly specialized care. The architects said the programming of the tower is analogous to a club sandwich, a stacked typology where distinct floors of offices and hotel rooms are sandwiched between elevated “sky gardens.” Rather than relying on external views of the surrounding city, the tower reorients views inward to a series of vertical urban-scaled verandahs. This openness also allows the wind to pass through the building for improved cross-ventilation. In this way, the public areas become functional, comfortable tropical spaces with greenery, natural light, and fresh air instead of enclosed, internalized air conditioned spaces. Living wall systems are not a new concept for WOHA, which has previously integrated a system onto a 36-story residential development called Newton Suites in 2007 and School of the Arts in 2010, with green plot ratios of 130 percent and 140 percent respectively. Green plot ratios measure the area of vegetation with respect to site area. In comparison to these projects, Oasia Downtown has achieved an 1100 percent green plot ratio, thanks for the extensive use of landscaping as an architectural surface treatment, both internally and externally throughout the building. The architects say the tower ultimately performs as a tropical, urbanistically sensitive and humanistic addition to the city. “We are interested in how green, vegetated facades and sky gardens can transform not just a building, but an entire neighborhood by creating visual relief while achieving psychological, as well as environmental benefits.”
In Singapore, this cooled conservatory contains more than a quarter of a million plants from every continent except Antarctica. Designed by British firm Wilkinson Eyre, the project known as "Gardens by the Bay" houses a 1.2 hectare "Flower Dome" that emulates the cool/dry climate found in the Mediterranean and a 0.8-hectare "cloud forest" that recreates cool/moist climates synonymous with tropical montane regions. The owner's technical representative, climate engineering firm Transsolar, produced a proof of concept with small demonstration greenhouses to aid the project. Adrian Turcato of Transsolar, was on hand to elaborate further. "Plants thrive outside," said Turcato. "Successfully including plants into buildings requires a deliberate design of a facade system that allows [plants] to thrive without compromising human comfort or operating costs," said Adrian Turcato, speaking to The Architect's Newspaper. Turcato added that "balancing plant requirements for light with human comfort by a direct manipulation of facade thermal and solar control" was also a key goal when developing the proof of concept. In 2012 the cooled conservatories were named World Building of the Year and in 2013 the project won the RIBA Lubetkin Prize. Turcato will be speaking at the next Facades+ conference in New York April 6 and 7. There he, Krista Palen (also of Transsolar), and Vishwadeep Deo from facade consultants Front Inc. will be providing a workshop addressing the issues raised by Turcato and will discuss the Gardens and the Bay—a case study among many, along with more practical demonstration calculations and processes—in further detail. Seating is limited. To register, go to facadesplus.com.
Reaching up into the sky in Bishan, Singapore is Moshe Safdie's recently completed development, and aptly named, Sky Habitat. Safdie's design includes walkways that connect the the two structures up to 38 storey's up, offering views across the suburban sprawl of Bishan. Views aren't the only thing offered to residents who take to the bridges at the complex either. As pictured above, a swimming pool spans the majority of the highest bridge (on the 38th floor) complete with palm trees. Below are two more bridges connecting the towers. They provide circulation between the buildings and facilitate airflow through the structures. In fact, ventilation was somewhat of a priority in the context of the Singapore's tropical and climate. As a result, by separating the volumes, Safdie has maximised exposure to each dwelling to combat the humid conditions. That's not to say that they too have been left bereft of vegetation, something which has been a key feature of Safdie's design. The inclusion of such greenery has lead to the bridges being termed as "sky gardens," offering a natural counter to the surrounding urban environment. Bishan, by comparison, is one of Singapore's fastest developing cities. The two volumes of the towers show off a staggered facade that maximizes each dwelling's views and sunlight exposure. Sky Habitat, by name, builds on Safdie's most recognized work, Habitat 67 in Montreal, Canada. Equally hierarchical and arguably more complex, Habitat 67 had its roots in his Master's thesis at McGill University. http://www.skyhabitat.com.sg/assets/video/commercial.mp4
Three graduate design students at the University of Pennsylvania—Daniel Lau, Joseph Rosenberg, and Lindsay Rule—have claimed the top spot in AECOM’s sixth annual Urban SOS competition. Their project, called The THIRD Reserve, is an urban landscape concept that would, in theory, allow Singapore's food production system to become self-sufficient. The team takes home $7,500 in prize money and has access to up to $25,000 to support the project. Encouraging cross-disciplinary thought to deal with contemporary urban issues, the Urban SOS program aims to provide design education and strives to help communities in need. Co-organized by AECOM, Van Alen Institute, and the Rockefeller Foundation's 100 Resilient Cities (100RC), this year’s “All Systems Go” brief asked students to develop site-specific ideas to solve urban food/water systems in one of the 100 Resilient Cities locations. With juries in twenty offices worldwide, AECOM chose three finalist teams, later ordered by a final jury comprising design leaders from AECOM, Van Alen Institute, 100 RC, and AN's own West Coast Editor Mimi Zeiger. “Making cities more resilient to change is core to what we do at AECOM," Michael S. Burke, AECOM chairman and CEO, said in a statement. “We believe that tomorrow’s cities will require holistic, integrated thinking—like that advanced by UrbanSOS participants in this competition—to prepare for the challenges ahead and to prioritize for the long-term what projects they pursue, develop and fund." In second place, Bennett Lambert and Elizabeth Reed Yarina from MIT took home $5,000 for their scheme, WATERPOWER, in Quito, Ecuador. Third prize went to Michel Liang from Berkeley City College, Pin Udomcharoenchaikit from University of the Aegean, and Sunantana Nuanla-or and Jacky Wah from Louisiana State University. Their proposal for CANAL SOS in Bangkok, earned $2,500. “This year’s entries were particularly strong and deep, coming from universities around the world,” Bill Hanway, competition chair from AECOM, said in a statement. “We commend all of the finalists and all of the entrants for their efforts and innovative thoughts on improving urban communities and their commitment to practice cross-disciplinary design.”
Architects and designers from 47 countries are competing to win prizes in the 2015 World Architecture Festival Awards following the announcement of the shortlist today. Nearly 400 designs in 31 categories have been chosen ranging from small family homes to huge commercial developments, landscape projects and interiors. Major world architects taking part include Foster Partners, Zaha Hadid Architects, Rafael Vinoly Architects and the designer of the controversial Garden Bridge in London, Heatherwick Studio. As usual there are also small practices unknown outside their own countries, who will be presenting their shortlisted work, along with big names, at the annual World Architecture Festival (WAF) in Singapore this November. This is the eight year of the WAF awards, which cover completed buildings, future projects, landscape designs, and interior architecture and design. WAF programme director Paul Finch commented: ‘ We are delighted that our entry numbers were up this year, and the quality of submissions is as high as ever. ‘What is fascinating about these awards is the opportunity they provide to compare how different architects and designers tackle the same sort of problems in completely different parts of the world.’ For more information www.worldarchitecturefestival.com
This abandoned rail corridor in Singapore will soon be a nationwide linear park, and these firms are competing to design it
Singapore’s Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) has shortlisted five winning design firms for an RFP to overhaul the Singapore Rail Corridor. Defunct since 2011 and once a prominent Singapore–Malaysia trade route, the railway spans the entire country from north to south starting at the Tanjong Pagar Railway Station to the Woodlands Checkpoint. A competition launched by the URA requested proposals to transform the 15-mile stretch into a public greenway connecting four important urban nodes: Buona Vista, the Bukit Timah Railway Station area, former Bukit Timah Fire Station, and Kranji. The five shortlisted design teams are as follows:
- West 8 and DP Architects
- Grant Associates and MVRDV with Architects 61
- Turenscape International and MKPL Architects
- Nikken Sekkei with Tierra Design
- OLIN Partnership and OMA Asia with DP Architects
Sir Peter Cook, Sou Fujimoto and Benedetta Tagliabue – announcing the first of World Architecture Festival’s 70 strong jury
The WAF awards are unique and are the only awards to enter if you want to receive critical feedback in person from our international jurors.Be part of the world’s largest live crit. All shortlisted entrants present live at the World Architecture Festival in Singapore in front of respected critics, architects, clients and associated practitioners. Enter to receive professional feedback, benchmark your work and exchange with your peers and WAF’s global network. WAF has over 70 judges who all attend the festival and critique your work. There are 31 award categories open for entries and each category has its own expert judging panel who will watch presentations from every shortlisted architect live at the festival. View the full judging panel here bit.ly/1H12gfa Both professionally and personally transformational, WAF awards are your gateway to global exposure, recognition and success. The game-changers of your profession, WAF awards are recognised by architects and clients alike. WAF is where your work gains international exposure and where you can make global connections. Anyone can enter and anyone can win. The entry deadline is 22 May, start your entry today at bit.ly/1zO0IFW. WAF 2015 will take place in Suntec in central Singapore from 4 – 6 November. www.worldarchitecturefestival.com
A custom concrete curtain wall complements a Singapore university building's unique form.The new Learning Hub at Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in Singapore looks nothing like a typical campus building. School administrators conceived of the facility as the embodiment of a pedagogical sea change, and commissioned London-based Heatherwick Studio to design an iconic structure emphasizing small-group learning and cross-disciplinary interaction. Eschewing perpendicular classrooms and isolated corridors, the architects developed a unique plan in which rounded meeting rooms are arrayed around a central atrium. The Learning Hub's textured concrete facade, punctuated by zig-zags of glazing and pockets of greenery, translates the interior program to the building's exterior, and announces the arrival at NTU of a new way of teaching and learning. The Learning Hub's plan, said project leader Ole Smith, "is basically the whole story of the design." The first challenge was to accommodate a radical departure in the university's mode of instruction. In lieu of traditional master classes, students meet in groups of six with a professor as facilitator. NTU asked Heatherwick Studio to eliminate corners where possible; once the architects observed that the classes would meet at round tables, the next step was to consider rounding the classrooms themselves. Knowing that the windows in the classrooms would need to be small in order to reduce thermal gain, they looked for another way for students to connect with one another and decided upon a central courtyard. "That was part of the brief as well, to enable the students to mix," said Smith. "It's the only building on the campus of 33,000 where they all come together. Art students might have class next to math or engineering students; the hope is that they'll meet up and inspire each other, or develop a business plan together." Singapore's stringent environmental standards necessitated the use of concrete on the building's facade as well as its structure. "That scared us a little," recalled Smith. "In northern Europe we see a lot of Brutalist buildings, and that's not the direction we wanted to go in. We started looking at how we could use the material in a different way." With local concrete contractor LWC, the architects played with pigment, using different colors to signal structure and ornament. In terms of form, they sought a balance between uniqueness and standardization. Heatherwick Studio's 3D modeling specialists came up with a set of 10 curvatures that, distributed across a total of 1,050 facade panels, could be recombined to deliver a unique shape to each classroom—thus streamlining fabrication without introducing obvious repetition. To further camouflage the facade's standardized elements, and to avoid swerving into Brutalist territory, the architects introduced a texture of horizontal bands, spaced, per local code requirements, to be pigeon-proof. In the end, explained Smith, "the panels are all unique because of the system we developed to treat the facade pattern." The system involved applying stripes of glue-like retardant onto the formwork, pouring the concrete, allowing it to set 24 hours, then hosing it down to remove the still-wet material. "We didn't add anything to the facade; we subtracted it," said Smith. To minimize solar gain, Heatherwick Studio introduced narrow bands of glazing around the perimeter of each classroom. Having rejected curved glass as too costly, but wishing to avoid a faceted appearance, the architects arranged the flat panes in a zig-zag pattern. A slight floor-by-floor cantilever further cuts the heat, turning each story into a natural sunshade for those below it. Meanwhile, induction units positioned under the windows passively ventilate the classrooms. Rounded bronze-mesh balconies situated between each classroom wing draw air into and through the courtyard, producing a cross breeze no matter the direction of the wind. The final pin in the Learning Hub's sustainability cap (the building achieved the highest sustainability rating awarded by the government of Singapore) is the hydroponic greenery distributed across the balconies and rooftop garden. For Smith, the ongoing collaboration with concrete fabricator LWC was a crucial element of the Learning Hub's success. The contractor's ingenuity and willingness to work with the architects provided the level of distinction required by the NTU brief. "We spent a lot of time with the consultants working on colors and texture," said Smith. "The concrete has a handmade feel; we're very happy with that. In Europe you pick your facade from a catalogue, but in this situation we were able to design it from scratch."
The Harvard Graduate School of Design has announced the three potential awardees of the 2015 Wheelwright Prize, a travel-based architectural research grant valued at $100,000. Each year, one architect from approximately 200 applicants bags the prize. Established in 1935 at a time when foreign travel was limited to an elite few and then known as the Arthur C. Wheelwright Traveling Fellowship, the prize used to be awarded solely to GSD alumni. It has now become an international competition welcoming early-career architects (within 15 years of earning an architectural degree) from around the world to bring in new blood, fresh ideas, and cross-cultural exchange. The number of countries represented has grown from 46 the previous year to 51 this year, including Bosnia, Cuba, Egypt, Iran, Kazakhstan, Morocco, Poland, Sri Lanka, Ukraine, Zimbabwe and more. The seven-person jury of architects has selected three finalists to present their research proposals at the Harvard Graduate School of Design on April 16, with the winner to be announced at the end of the month. To inspire the next generation of Wheelwright prizewinners, the winner of the 2013 Wheelwright Prize, Gia Wolff, will present "Floating City: The Community-Based Architecture of Parade Floats," reporting on her research on over the past two years on carnival festivals. "The idea is not just about travel—the act of going and seeing the world—but it is about binding the idea of geography to themes and issues that hold great potential relevance to contemporary practice," said Harvard GSD Dean Mohsen Mostafavi in a statement. The three 2015 finalists are as follows: Erik L’Heureux, Assistant Professor at the National University of Singapore, presenting: “Hot and Wet: The Equatorial City and the Architectures of Atmosphere.” Malkit Shoshan, founder of think tank, FAST (Foundation for Achieving Seamless Territory) Amsterdam, presenting: “Architecture and Conflict: Pre-Cycling the Compound” Quynh Vantu, Award-winning Architect, London, presenting : “On Movement: The Threshold and its Shaping of Culture and Spatial Experience.”
This Fall, I served as special media correspondent for the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat's September symposium in Shanghai. The topic was “Future Cities: Towards Sustainable Vertical Urbanism,” and among the many architects, engineers and other tall building types I interviewed was Mun Summ Wong of Singapore-based WOHA. WOHA's work celebrates human-scale spaces in high-rise buildings. Take the PARKROYAL on Pickering, a cluster of hotels in Singapore that spruces up the standard podium with lush greenery and sleek, curvilinear geometries. Its 15,000 square feet of green space climb up through the towers' balconies and terraces, in a sense extending nearby Hong Lim Park. The project was one of CTBUH's Best Tall Buildings of 2013. In our interview, Wong discussed net-zero skyscrapers, urban sprawl and "using tall buildings as columns." Watch the video above, courtesy CTBUH, in which Wong envisions his ideal future city. "The way forward isn't to continue with two-dimensional master planning where cities can only grow sideways," Wong said. "I think skyscrapers can do more than be themselves."
This Fall, I served as special media correspondent for The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat's September symposium in Shanghai. The topic was “Future Cities: Towards Sustainable Vertical Urbanism,” and among the many architects, engineers and other tall building types I interviewed was Ole Scheeren—founder Büro Ole Scheeren and former director at OMA. In light of Scheeren's recent work on The Interlace in Singapore and Bangkok's MahaNakhon, we talked about exploring the power of public space and shared experiences in tall buildings. “The city is about sharing,” said Scheeren. “The city is not about individuality per se but it's about how individuals come together and the spaces they share. And in a way the adventure of that space.”