Singapore provides a different angle on liveable design

The World Architecture Festival has been taking place in Singapore this week and it has been eye-opener in terms how a country with limited space deals with housing and the desire for greenery. At half the size of London and two-thirds of the population, Singapore sounds as if it should be denser – but not that dense. The difference though is that there is no hinterland – no wider country to which to escape.

So Singapore has to provide all its greenery and open space within its boundaries. And it has done this remarkably successfully.Between 1986 and 2007 the population grew by 70 per cent yet across the same period the proportion of green space actually increased from 35.7 per cent to 46.6 per cent.

A small amount of this growth was the result of land reclamation – the fabulous Gardens by the Bay are in one such recent area. But mostly it has come from a deliberate densification of construction. The brief for the recent Pinnacle@Duxton for example asked for the amount of accommodation to be trebled. In the UK we would be horrified to see families living in a 50-storey building. But the residents love it. Great attention has been given to the ground plane and there are also ‘flying gardens’ – communal spaces at upper levels. Other projects are even more radical, and there is an increasing trend to green the exteriors of buildings.

Designing for a tropical climate, where you usually want shade and designing to increase wind flow is crucial, is evidently very different to more temperate environments. But Singapore evidently feels that it has no choice but to build upwards. The approach it takes to it is surprising, stimulating and admirable.







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