Punggol Waterway Terraces

Group8asia is the first foreign firm to design public housing in Singapore. Punggol Waterway terraces have achieved much more than the prerequisites of the design brief.

With this project, the firm reset the hands of the clock in terms of how the world perceives architecture. Too many buildings across the world have become a casualty of globalisation; unsustainable glass boxes mimicking each other, fighting for power and the image of a modern worldly city.The hero of Singapore before that had been SIT public housing blocks that adapted to the tropical climate before the advent of air-conditioning. Cross-ventilation, orientation and shading devices were their tools. “When the first large-scale HDB blocks were built in Queenstown in the early 1970s, that ‘tropical-necessity modernist-design’ architectural hybrid symbolised a newly independent Singapore.”

Following prey to the fashion of global architecture, these forms were quietly replaced. But the affects were loud- anti-social structures that were “unsustainably non-tropical.” As global warming and fast depletion of resources is waking up everyone to the unavoidable realities of the planet, tropical-modernist design has made a come-back in public housing with this project.

Courtesy of Group8asia - Photography: Patrick- Bingham Hall

Courtesy of Group8asia – Photography: Patrick- Bingham Hall

“The sheer mass and the fundamental design elements of the Waterway Terraces are not hidden, they instead are presented to the public and the residents as an unequivocal response to the 21st century requirements for a sustainable, yet enjoyable, high-density urban lifestyle,” says the architect. The plan maps out as a configuration of multiple open ended hexagons linked to each other continuously. These open ended faces face the waterway that cuts through the site. The arms at the ends step down towards the landscape, “so all the residents have a direct experiential connection with the landscape and with their neighbourhood.”

“A matrix of planning strategies provides passive climatic control – cross ventilation and shading from the sun,” says Group8asia. “The apartments are shielded from the heat and the rain by undulating ribbons of ‘Juliet’ balconies, which perform as decorative sun-shading devices.”

Courtesy of Group8asia - Photography: Patrick- Bingham Hall

Courtesy of Group8asia – Photography: Patrick- Bingham Hall

A double loaded no-dead end corridor runs through the centre, throughout the length of each floor. The planning here is a work of art- conventional doubly loaded corridors are unpleasant spaces with no natural light or direct ventilation. Here the corridors have open ends that facilitate cross-ventilation and vertical cooling. “Due to the hexagonal block plans, three corridors are angled at 120 degrees from the lift cores to serve apartments grouped in threes. Each apartment is directly ventilated by the lift-core breezeways and by voids inserted between the groupings.”

Courtesy of Group8asia

Courtesy of Group8asia

“The fundamental principles of passive tropical design have been inventively recalibrated and then expressed at a monumental scale, whilst the contextually-attuned planning and massing have reintroduced a sense of communal identity at a human scale,” reflects Group8asia. Punggol Waterway terraces is an apt example of a thought through architecture design exercise. It is a “genuine precursor to the zero-energy mass housing that will be essential for the continued growth of Asia’s cities.”

Project Information :
Architect :  Group8asia
Location : Punggol , Singapore
Concept Team : Manuel Der Hagopian, Grégoire Du Pasquier, Adrien Besson, Anne Luyet, Nicolas Moser, Laurence Savy, Nguyen Kien, Guillaume Desormeaux, Vu Hoang Ha
Project Team : Carlo Montoya, Armand Devillard, Duong Bao Trung, Nguyen Duy Tan, Le Hai Anh, Nguyen Viet Hung, Dam Van Tam, Vu Thu Nga, Vu Ngoc Tu, Vu Dong Thanh, Ngo Trong Anh, Phan Thi Bich Lien, Nguyen Phuong Chi, Bui Le Minh, Nguyen Trung Thanh, Florence Thonney, Do Dang Tuat, Nguyen Duc Cuong, Le Quang, Thomas Sponti
Consultants: Aedas Pte Ltd, Singapore (Local Architect), Beca Carter Holling & Ferner (Se Asia) Pte Ltd, Singapore (Civil & Structure Engineering), Davis Langdon & Seah Singapore Pte Ltd, Singapore(Quantity Surveying), Icn Design International Pte Ltd, Singapore (Landscape)
Total Area: 2,58,000.0 sqm
Project Year: 2015
Site Area: 80,000 sqm

By: Sahiba Gulati

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