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Innovations in public housing; a hotel for those with a millennial mindset; an expression of the future direction of the public library; the integration of vegetation and architecture; and much more in our latest issue.


It has been exciting to watch the new generation of Housing and Development Board (HDB) blocks take root around the island. The notion of bearing roots is both figurative and literal, as the presence of a considerable amount of landscaping around and on the housing blocks has been noticeable.

This issue we look in depth at one of the most recently completed developments – SkyVille @ Dawson by WOHA. The firm worked with landscape architect ICN Design International and created a living environment that embodies many innovative approaches to the HDB typology while managing to adhere to the system’s guidelines.

SkyVille at Dawson, designed by WOHA with landscape architect ICN Design International. Photo by Patrick Bingham-Hall

The introduction of multiple ground planes at SkyVille @ Dawson has created one of its most impactful assets: landscaped community spaces positioned every 11 storeys throughout the height of the towers. These sky gardens serve as extensions of the private living spaces and enablers of community interaction. On the last page of this issue, we look back at their genesis in WOHA’s 2001 competition scheme for public housing at Duxton Plain.

Duxton Plain
WOHA’s entry to the URA’s 2001 International Architectural Design Competition for public housing at Duxton Plain. Image courtesy of WOHA

The presence of landscaping at height presents its own set of challenges, and we touch on these in our reviews of a new book published by Birkhäuser and a seminar held recently by the Urban Redevelopment Authority. At the seminar ‘Greening the Vertical Garden City’, emphasis was placed on the demand for intense collaboration from all members of a project team for the achievement of vertical greenery. This point is also raised in the new book titled Dense + Green, written by Thomas Schröpfer of the Singapore University of Technology and Design.

Khoo Peng Beng (left) and Belinda Huang (centre), Directors at Arc Studio, with Darren Soh (right) in the Arc Studio office. Photo by Justin Loh

The Rochor Centre HDB development (completed in 1977) will be demolished by the end of 2016. Photo by Darren Soh

We continue the discussion of the HDB environment in this issue’s ‘In Conversation’ feature, for which we teamed up two of the architects who worked on the winning scheme for the Duxton Plain HDB development (Khoo Peng Beng and Belinda Huang of Arc Studio) with an architectural photographer who has documented HDB environments for some years (Darren Soh). A key point to emerge from their discussion about the evolution of HDB environments was a concern for spaces that encourage community building.

Kay Ngee Tan
Architect Kay Ngee Tan in his Singapore studio. Photo by Hiroshi Kawakami

This issue’s ‘Portfolio’ feature delves into the design, architecture and writing of Kay Ngee Tan. In Tan’s built projects we find an exploratory process akin to the preparation of a literary work, and it is little surprise to discover that he writes books as well as a regular column for a Hong Kong weekly on the theme of ‘Cities and Aesthetics’. He tells us about how he works in three cities, fuelling his constant quest for learning with teaching and a great deal of travel.

The BT House by ONG&ONG. Photo by Derek Swalwell (courtesy of ONG&ONG)

Agape West View
The Agape Village training centre designed by LAUD Architects. Photo by Melvin H J Tan (courtesy of LAUD Architects)

Other features in issue 81 explore houses by ONG&ONG and RT+Q Architects; a colourful office for an online grocery delivery company by Wynk Collaborative; a training centre by LAUD Architects that drips with greenery; LOOK Architects’ expression of the future of public libraries at Pasir Ris; a hotel designed for global citizens with a millennial mindset by Philippe Starck, ONG&ONG and Axis Architects Planners; a retail interior by Snøhetta; and the illuminating narratives within the light installations of Malaysian artist and designer Jun Ong.

Aesop Singapore
Aesop ION designed by Snøhetta. Photo by Wai Kay Photography (courtesy of Aesop)

In this issue’s ‘Online Report’, our Editor Janice Seow discovers a new co-working space whose designer, Contrast, has taken the unusual step of working from the shared environment. We also bring you all the Singapore-related insights you need to know from the Venice Biennale. And we report on our very own ‘Milan in Review’ panel discussion featuring Lim Choon Hong of Xtra Designs, Hunn Wai of Lanzavecchia + Wai, and Timo Wong and Priscilla Lui of Studio Juju.

Note by Editor Narelle Yabuka.

Singapore Pavilion Venice
The centrepiece of the Singapore Pavilion at the Venice Biennale is a display of lanterns featuring photos of HDB homes by Keyakismos and Tomohisa Miyauchi. Photo by Don Wong/DesignSingapore Council



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