Greening from the inside out

How two architects envisioned blending a contemporary new high-rise with abundant green spaces

At a height of 280 metres, CapitaSpring, which is due for completion in the first half of 2021, will rival some of the tallest buildings in Raffles Place. Responsible for this vision is an exciting collaboration between award-winning architecture and design firms, Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG), whose significant works include the Google Mountain View Campus in California, and Carlo Ratti Associati (CRA), whose noteworthy achievements include the renovation of the Agnelli Foundation headquarters in Turin, Italy. 

The upcoming 51-storey development will feature 29 floors of premium office space; 299-unit Citadines serviced residence over eight floors to be managed by The Ascott Limited; 350 parking lots, as well as 12,000 square feet of retail space. The tower will be one of the greenest buildings in Raffles Place with a four-storey high Green Oasis. At a breathtaking 100 metres above ground, it will combine a jungle gym, treetop cocoons, sky hammocks, a café and a spiral stairway set within a botanical promenade, offering stunning views of the city. A rooftop garden will house Singapore’s highest urban farm.

As lead architect, BIG is charged with the physical building design, while CRA has conceptualised the user experience to allow people to interact with the space in meaningful ways.

For Bjarke Ingels, founding partner at BIG, one of the biggest inspirations behind this project was the blending of indoor and outdoor spaces. “Elements like the Green Oasis and the rooftop garden all reveal themselves to the outside by breaking apart the regimented geometry of the façade. In a way, the building communicates very intuitively the moment where the curtain wall is ripped apart, and you are invited to enter and explore,” he said.

This approach to design is shared by Carlo Ratti, founding partner of CRA, who added: “What we’ve seen in the 21st century is a lot of sprawl. Cities moving outside into the countryside and into nature. But we can do the opposite today – we can bring nature inside our urban cities and even inside our buildings.”

“As someone with Singaporean heritage, I’m honoured and humbled by the opportunity to contribute to the ongoing evolution of architecture in Singapore – the home of tropical modernism,” said Brian Yang, partner in charge at BIG. “BIG’s design looks to further this local typology by distinctly yet seamlessly blending the contemporary high-rise with abundant greenery in between the offices, residences, amenities and recreation spaces.” 

"BIG and CRA collaborated in an international architectural competition held by CapitaLand, and by championing the strengths of both firms, they were selected to take on the redevelopment of Golden Shoe Car Park."

An urban tropical oasis

A great effort was made within the design of the new integrated development to extend the traditional work and living spaces to the exterior. This included a variety of active/passive cooling strategies supported by a strong digital backbone with IoT technologies. “The project has a great programmatic environment – a place for living and for working. These two activities are connected by a Green Oasis, like an umbilical cord in the vertical dimension,” said Ingels. Focusing on the human experience, CRA set out to ensure that the development will redefine the interactive possibilities for the workspaces of tomorrow. To this end, the use of facial recognition technologies, an all-in-one lifestyle and community app, and the option to personalise workspace thermal and lighting preferences will feature in the integrated development.

“The indoor space is characterised by an array of hi-tech solutions, shaping a series of responsive spaces for work or leisure. Sensors, IoT and artificial intelligence capabilities are scattered throughout the tower, which will enable the tenants to customise their experience of the building,” explained Ratti.

Ultimately, for both BIG and CRA, the new development has been about how they could create a tropical oasis in Singapore’s central area, whilst still pushing the most advanced digital technologies to create a true blend of urban life and tropical nature 

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