Distinguished architectural firms are most often commissioned to design prestigious projects for the high end of the market. But the experience and skills they can bring to a more populist market niche can have far greater ramifications.
This Singapore project proves that innovative architecture is not the sole prerogative of an elite few. Rather, it can be accessible to a much wider market in this case more than 1000 households.
The Interlace, developed by CapitaLand Singapore, was designed by architect Ole Scheeren working for OMA. The design brief was straightforward the development needed to create an iconic urban habitat of the future, says Wong Heang Fine, chief executive officer of CapitaLand Singapore (Residential).
"This was always going to be an exemplary development that would promote a sustainable, highly accessible and eco-friendly living environment, with a strong sense of community," he says. "We set out to create an outstanding design for a development that is not only within reach of those who aspire to own a private residential unit, but also those who aspire to a unique lifestyle."
The design was driven by many factors, including the shape of the 8ha site, which completes a 9km green belt. It was also determined by the need to maximise opportunities for social interaction.
"In Singapore, the standard typology for residential developments is a cluster of isolated, towers, which do little to enhance a sense of community," the architect says. "This design, in contrast, explores a dramatically different approach to tropical living, providing an expansive and interconnected network of communal spaces within a natural environment."
Thirty-one apartment blocks, each six storeys high, are stacked in a hexagonal arrangement to create eight large-scale courtyards. The interlocking blocks resemble a vertical village, complete with cascading sky gardens and both public and private roof terraces. Extensive residential amenities and facilities are interwoven with the landscape, amid lush vegetation, providing opportunities for social interaction, leisure and recreation.
"The architecture is more about the spaces between the buildings than the built-up areas themselves," says Scheeren. "While the buildings provide the residences, they are more importantly a tool to generate the open spaces."