Wilkie Edge, SingaporeEdit profile
This project lies at the Bras Basah – Bugis district, recently designated an arts, education and nightlife zone. Historically a swampy zone between the European and Indian communities; it housed nefarious activities, including the famous Bugis Street. New zoning allows media facades and advertisements, which are not allowed in the rest of the central district: the intent being to create night time buzz, like Tokyo’s Shibuya. The area has a diverse mix of buildings of different eras and scales. To the north-east is a conservation area of 3 storey shophouses. Mt Sophia, to the north, is in transition from old houses and institutional buildings to dense 12 storey apartments. To the west are large podium and tower buildings from the 1980s. On the east are public housing slab blocks in bright colours. The existing building was a 1970s slab block and podium, at the end of its serviceable life due to poor concrete, inadequate services, low floor heights. The brief was for retail, office and serviced apartment. Urbanistically, we wanted to address the disjunctions in scale, and contribute to the buzz of the neighbourhood. The brief and regulations encouraged a podium and stumpy tower, which we felt was disastrous against the fine textured shophouses. Instead we developed a finely textured skin that filled the planning envelope, and carved out volumes that created silhouettes that are in dialogue with the buildings around them. These volumes open up light and air to the form, and allowed multiple sky gardens and terraces to be created at different levels. The carved out surfaces are aluminium sunshades and screens, which create a vertical proportion and texture relating to the historic shophouse facades. The silvery skin is a folded, perforated skin that changes with the light conditions, from silver solidity to a misty transparency. The aluminium façade was developed to save material during the commodities boom: thin metal cannot normally be used due to “oil canning` and warping, so the façade was pre-folded and intentionally out of alignment, resulting in aluminium panels of half the thickness being used. The masterplan designated the corner as an “illuminated node`. Rather than a commercial screen, we convinced the clients to engage realities:united, a German firm specializing in communicative architecture, to combine art and commerce. Rather than a screen applied to the building, the media façade is integrated into the architecture. A unique LED projection system called A:Amp (Advertising Amplifier) was developed by realities:united which creates a soft light like watercolour on the façade. A commercial hi-res screen is in dialogue with the low-res screen; custom software takes the commercial content and plays with it in various algorithms. Late at night, in “dream mode` the hi-res screen plays images mixed from the day’s commercial content. The sustainable strategies include the shading of the perforated aluminium façade, overhangs and louvers, the green plot ratio of the planted terraces, the naturally ventilated corridors of the serviced apartments and offices. Skylights bring natural light into the retail. The project is Singapore Green Mark certified.