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  • Writer's pictureAlexandra Venkova

Architecture Diaries - Singapore

Stating "Singapore is impressive' would be an overstatement. And yet it is so so impressive indeed. There is something about this green island that feels out of this world, or at least years ahead of everyone else in its ambition towards a more regenerative sustainable living and being. One can feel it in the day to day life in the city, the vibes, the energy, call it as you wish. But today we are talking architecture and I wanted to show you some of the most spectacular buildings I have had the pleasure of 'meeting' in person.

Jewel Changi Airport

78 Airport Blvd., Singapore 819666

Changi airport absolutely deserves the first spot in this compilation, as it is not only the first encounter with the dazzling country, but also it is one of the pieces of architecture that confidently say "Here we are, welcome to one of the most future looking places on the planet, enjoy!" My first experience with Changi was a story on its own. When I first landed in South East Asia on my way to my new life in Malaysia I was so overwhelmed and in a rush, I remember seeing the world famous waterfall from a distance, thinking.. "It's okay I'll come see it another day, need to go meet my driver." Little did I know that I would only get the chance to return in Singapore after two long years and an actual pandemic. But life is funny like this sometimes. So anyway, back in July 22 I finally got to see and experience the magnificence of the prominent Jewel. And I was in awe. I spent three hours perambulating and admiring the space. The thing about Changi is that it is also one of the most entertaining airports in the world, with so many things to do and explore, one might want to arrive 5 hours prior to their flight, or just visit on the weekend. The Jewel brings together lifestyle and market place in a clever and enticing public space planning. Changi is a gathering space for all, which sets a brilliant example and establishes a role model for airports around the world. It is a hub of entertainment, shopping, social activities and all complemented by the sense of being in nature.

"Jewel weaves together an experience of nature and the marketplace, dramatically asserting the idea of the airport as an uplifting and vibrant urban center, engaging travelers, visitors and residents, and echoing Singapore’s reputation as ‘The City in the Garden’." - Moshe Safdie

The highlight here most definitely is the dramatic waterfall, cascading down 7 floors, at the heart of the signature glass dome of the Jewell. Spectacular by day and just as stunning by night. If visiting, do not miss the light and sound show (Mon-Thu 7:30pm-8:30pm, Fri-Sun 7:30, 8:30, 9:30).

Image Source: Safdie Architects

I would recommend checking Safdie Architects website for more insights about Changi and the Jewel.


88 Market St, Singapore 048948

A place with a view and not only. Capita Spring is one of the most recent additions to my collection of inspiring places and spaces. Design by one of the biggest in the archi game BIG-Bjarke Ingels Group and CRA-Carlo Ratti Associati, the skyscraper is one of the tallest in Singapore and offers some of the best views of the island. Naturally a must visit! Fortunately the building is open to the general public (weekly, from 8-10am and then again 2-6pm). This new addition to the biophilic scene of the island carries on Singapore's reputation as a garden city. The building opens up at multiple elevations revealing glimpses into the green garden public spaces blooming from the base, core (levels 17-20), and rooftop “sky garden (level 51). Visitors are welcome to explore the gardens, work or relax in dedicated specially designed areas, play or exercise in outdoor gym and playgrounds.

Our design seeks to continue Singapore's pioneering vertical urbanism with the 280m tall diverse neighborhood of places to work, live and play inside as well as outside. Due to the unique character of Singapore’s urbanism – both extremely dense and green - we decided to make the design a vertical exploration of tropical urbanism. At grade, the street is closed to form a new linear park and public plaza. A vertical park in the middle of the tower forms a spiraling promenade ascending among tropical tree trunks and canopies. On top, an urban forest feeds all the restaurants and cafes in the building and allows visitors to enjoy the lushness of the summit. Capitaspring is like a vision of a future in which city and countryside, culture and nature can coexist, and urban landscapes can expand unrestricted into the vertical dimension. -- Bjarke Ingels, Founding Partner, BIG. (For Arch Daily)

ParkRoyal Collection Pickering

3 Upper Pickering St, Singapore 058289

Next on the list is a building that literally grabs you from the street and forces you to look up and admire. Don't know how many times I have passed by, and Park Royal Pickering never ceases to amaze. There are always passers by, struck by the extraordinary facade, waving and pointing towards the building. It is a work of design that demands attention. And what can be more rewarding that that for the architects at WOHA. Lush greenery seems to be spilling out of the balconies and terraces around the exterior. For this project the architectural studio has been able to create 15,000 square metres of greenery - around double the area of the site - and give every guest a garden view from their room window. The building is modelled on the topography of natural landscapes, which gives the facade that fascinating and eye catching look.

EDEN Singapore

2 Draycott Park, Singapore 259386

From one green paradise to the next. Yet another project by a world renowned studio. Looking at the architecture of this building, it would be almost impossible to mistake the work of Thomas Heatherwick. The residential complex is located nearby the popular shopping district that is Orchard Road.

For a pedestrian passer by it is unfortunately not possible to get too close to the building and admire its beautiful features, yet even from afar is striking and provides enough detail to understand design direction and approach that has been applied. The residential blook reminds of an eden extending upwards, instead of the usual horizontal orientation that we are so used to seeing. Each of the apartments is given a private hanging garden which connects interior with exteriors which one might say is a response to the disconnection between high rise apartments and the abundant greenery at street level in Singapore. This building is definitely something different and unique on the outside I can only dream to imagine what would it look like on the inside.

The Hive (Learning Hub South - LHS)

52 Nanyang Ave, Singapore 639816

And finally for today another Heatherwick masterpiece to conclude this series of remarkable architecture. The Learning Hub at Nanyang Technological University (NTU Singapore) or otherwise known as the 'Hive' is an educational building like no other. The building is attractive from outside and so well thought through on the inside. It is designed around spaces welcoming an open and contemporary approach to education. The space just buzzes with energy and excitement. An interior courtyard encourages a more casual interactions between peers and academic staff. Everyone is welcome to join a discussion or simply walk around and admire. All rooms are turned to the shared areas of the atrium, clear glass walls convey transparency and allow visual connection.

Another memorable element of the design that contributes to the rich concept is the concrete stair and elevator cores, which have been embedded with 700 specially commissioned drawings, three-dimensionally cast into the concrete, referencing everything from science to art and literature. The overlapping images were specially commissioned from illustrator Sara Fanelli. The sixty one angled concrete columns have a distinctive undulating texture developed specially for this project. As a building 'The Hive' challenges the education system, which only strengthens the power of architecture in today's society, promoting group teaching and active learning.

“The new Learning Hub provides an exciting mix of learning, community and recreational spaces for NTU students, professors and researchers from various disciplines to gather and interact. By bringing people and their ideas together, NTU can spark future innovations and new knowledge that increasingly happen at the intersection of disciplines.” NTU Professor Kam Chan Hin, Senior Associate Provost (for Arch Daily)

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