Skyscrapers are an undeniable feature of modern-day skyline; (left to right) ION Orchard, Sky Habitat and One George Street
Skyscrapers are an undeniable feature of modern-day skyline; (left to right) ION Orchard, Sky Habitat and One George Street

Man has always had a fascination with tall buildings. According to ancient Middle Eastern tradition, the first skyscraper was the result of man’s desire to reach the heavens. In modern times, apart from the practical reason of maximising space, greater height provides an improved perspective, a spectacular view and exclusivity.

A Piece of the Pie in the Sky

When it comes to a view, there is no place in Singapore’s premium shopping district, Orchard Road, that can rival ION Sky. Rising 218 metres into the clouds, the rooftop of the city, ION Sky, which comprises Levels 55 and 56 of ultra-luxury mall ION Orchard, is Orchard Road’s highest point. The latest focal point of the area is an extension of the mall’s multi-sensory experience which includes, amongst many things, specially created scents that perfume the mall.

From its unparalleled perch, you can enjoy a panoramic view of the country’s iconic sites. You can also glimpse the past at the country’s first and only double-storey observatory. Its state-of-the-art BEHOLD™ telescopes, let you see images of the humble beginnings of Orchard Road when it was nothing more than sprawling nutmeg plantations and fruit orchards among other historical and significant districts of Singapore. The telescopes, first seen at the world’s tallest tower, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, combine live and augmented reality viewing. There is even a Cloud Spotting area designated by the Cloud Appreciation Society in the United Kingdom for people to learn about clouds and the weather, and watch the fluffy formations go by.

On Level 55, the sweeping vista only enhances the exquisite offerings of celebrity chef and restaurateur, Luke Mangan. Salt grill & Sky bar features contemporary Australian cuisine created with the freshest of produce from Down Under.

The High Life

For residential development Sky Habitat, height has allowed a more creative design solution. A departure from the conventional tower typology, the dramatic stepping structure is designed by internationally-renowned architect Moshe Safdie.

The condominium at the heart of Bishan Central consists of two 38-storey towers linked by three sky bridges at the 14 th , 26 th and 38 th storeys. In addition to the ground level facilities, each bridge, with its unique landscape character, offers community gardens and amenities for communal interaction in the sky. Here, nature is brought up closer to the residents’ homes where they can enjoy the lush greenery, natural breezes and breathtaking views.

Instead of independent towers, Sky Habitat is a matrix of apartments, communal gardens, private gardens and open streets linked at multiple points in the sky.

Reminiscent of traditional hillside developments, the dramatic stepping form not only addresses issues of high density and massing requirements, but also maximises both views and height in a single gesture.

Tall buildings, in general, require greater engineering expertise to ensure structural stability. But Sky Habitat required even greater technical consideration because of both its height and stacking design. The feat of marrying form and function so perfectly is what adds to the development’s premium status.

Peak Performance

Height also affords greater visibility. One George Street’s height is what makes it an icon of Singapore’s skyline. The Grade A office building in the Central Business District is one of the first development to introduce sky gardens at various office floors. It has up to 30,000 square feet of column-free plates, so that the offices can customise the configuration of their space.

Because it is built tall, One George Street has more space for enhancement features such as roof gardens which were meticulously designed to make full use of GFA-exemption under prevailing planning regulations.

The four urban Edens on the 5 th , 12 th , 15 th , and 22 nd floors introduce biodiversity into the city with its myriad range of plants and reduce the building’s ambient air temperature. These sky gardens also provide spaces for occupants to relax and take in the stunning view of the city's skyline in both day and night. This creative landscaping and other green considerations – a façade that reduces glare and heat transmission while letting in optimal daylight, double-glazed, low-emittance glass with aluminium sun-shading louvers from the 7 th level – are reasons why it was accorded the Building and Construction Authority Green Mark Gold Plus Award as well as the National Parks Board’s Skyrise Greenery Award.

Towering developments have a decided advantage. Not only do they provide an unbeatable bird’s eye view, functionally such buildings have more space for added amenities and features. Users of these amenities, which can be built far above ground, enjoy the comfort of a lower ambient temperature and cool breeze.

No wonder these skyscrapers have everyone on cloud nine.