“Punggol Waterway Terraces” by group8asia is the awarded project of the second international competition for public housing in the history of singapore. Held by the housing development board (HDB) and, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the country in 2015, the aims of the work are to renew the image of the society and to open the field of exploration of a new generation of affordable residences.
With this scheme, the firm has become the first foreign architecture practice to design public housing in the southeast asian city-state. The studio proposes to pay tribute to the first generation of the typology in the city in sustainable fashion. to do so, the formal manipulations replicate the rice terraces of asia. The unique 1200 layout of the buildings, as well as the cascading skyline created by the patios of the roofs, serves to accentuate this connection. ‘forward looking and different from their traditional neighbors, those buildings become the vehicle of an utopia, towards a new life in a modern future, perceived in the early 70’s as the new era for modern tropical architecture,’ says group8asia. In addition, the shape and orientation of the complex, as well as the openings and shading features, exploit the natural air movement and sun path to optimize natural ventilation and lighting while minimizing heat absorption.
The stepped platforms enable the scale of the residential blocks to adapt to different urban conditions, granting different dimensions from various points of view. from the waterway, they adopt a more pedestrian scale and are perceived as multiple spaces. From Punggol Central, they are high rise towers. Finally, from the void between the wings, it is a building with open courtyards.
Hexagonal voids, cut into these enclosed zones, strengthen the dialogue between the residences and the canal banks. Themed landscape elements are featured strongly throughout the scheme, reinforcing the concept of living in a verdant urban oasis.
The modularity of the dwelling units provides vast choices of use and modification in relation with the evolution of the family unit. The individual pieces are also shaped to maximize the key views of the site. all the living spaces take advantage views towards the shorefront, the jungle courtyards, or the palm gardens.
Implicit in the design was the vision of the architecture as an organism, where the waterway terraces may be imagined to become future aggregators of multiple experiences. The studio believes that ‘steeped with such social meanings to encourage interaction, as well as immersions in nature, this offers a scope to explore the enhanced social value for the building and inevitably contribute in return to the environmental pedagogy and social equity of the estate.’