The Interlace is a high-density residential development that reimagines the skyscraper as a series of horizontal blocks arranged to create an intricate network of private, semi-private and public spaces.

It is an attempt to overcome the straitjacket of the typology of a ‘tower’ where people live in vertical isolation. It introduces a sense of community while retaining the vertical nature of the tower catering to a sizable populace, as a vertical village. Through the design, Architect Ole Scheeren of OMA Architects, raised pertinent questions such as ‘How do we live in a city?’ and ‘How do we think about living, not only in terms of the privacy and individuality of ourselves and our apartment but in an idea of a collective?’

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The Interlace, Singapore ©Büro Ole Scheeren www.buro-os.com
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Building Blocks arranged in a Hexagonal grid ©Büro Ole Scheeren www.buro-os.com

The Interlace is built on an elevated eight-hectare site close to the Singapore city centre.

31 blocks of identical dimension, each 6 storeys high are arranged in a rigorous hexagonal grid creating a strategic form of inhabitable spaces. The stacking of these blocks’ ranges from a minimum of 6 storeys to a maximum of 24 storeys in parts to create a striking topography. The development consists of 1040 units of varying sizes. The homes range from two-bedroom flats to penthouses and garden townhouses. The stacked design along with offsets to have a partially supported, partially suspended nature of blocks creates additional horizontal surfaces on the higher levels. It provides the opportunity to introduce landscape in the form of roof gardens, verdant sky gardens and landscaped balconies. Multi-storey openings allow generous passage of light and air and frame panoramic views of the city.

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Total Green Cover on Site ©Büro Ole Scheeren www.buro-os.com
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Horizontal stacking of volumes ©Büro Ole Scheeren www.buro-os.com

The hexagonal nature of the stacking form eight large courtyards that become spaces of habitation rather than residual spaces. Each of these courtyards has an independent programmatic identity interwoven within a lush landscape. Various public amenities such as theatres, play areas, water parks, picnic zones that can host activities such as barbeques and bathing, specifically catering to the tropical climate of Singapore and further promoting interaction between residents and provide an enhanced quality of life.

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Programmatic distribution within Courtyards ©Büro Ole Scheeren www.buro-os.com

The architecture incorporates a passive design approach using various environmental analyses such as sun, wind and shadow conditions on-site. The strategic arrangement of the blocks creates a natural shading in the courtyards due to the building form. Water bodies in the courtyard are placed along prominent wind corridors such that pleasant microclimates are created via evaporative cooling. An otherwise inert fire truck access looping the perimeter doubles up as a jogging track intertwining the landscaped ground level. The ground level descends into a semi-sunken expanse of the parking deck that is ventilated by open to sky voids that allow abundant light and air in. The vegetation also extends vertically in the form of tall trees through the parking level to uphold the perception of a tropical environment. On completion, the green cover occupies 112% of the total area and exceeds the amount previously on site.

“The Interlace provides an abundance of open spaces and opportunities for social interaction and group activities, while also offering more intimate spaces. It fosters a sense of community while maintaining individuality and privacy” – Ole Scheeren

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Circulation Cores ©Büro Ole Scheeren www.buro-os.com
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Hexagonal arrangement of volumes to create courtyards ©Büro Ole Scheeren www.buro-os.com
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Typical Floor Plan ©Büro Ole Scheeren www.buro-os.com

The scheme is an elaborate arrangement of residential units simplified by three main structural core typologies as per the number of levels to be serviced. The three cores have an arrangement of singular or multiple elevators and staircases. These common cores are repeated across the development and rotated three ways at 120 degrees as a standard solution for any condition. The cores also act as structural centres as they occur at the vertical intersection of each block. Each intersection forms a mini hexagon with a column at each vertex, therefore the entire core acts as a mega column. These standardized cores, minimal circulation and maximised floor area allow the project to be executed on a competitive budget with Singapore’s affordable housing market.

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Hierarchies of Public Spaces ©Büro Ole Scheeren www.buro-os.com

The individual units are configured to receive an ample amount of natural light during the day and boast of ample balconies and terraces form a vertical landscape and form newer datum planes for social activity. Spaces are layered to advance from a communal to private. Gradations of privacy in a variety of these spaces help achieve intimacy and a sense of selective seclusion as per individual preferences.

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Inside the Interlace ©Büro Ole Scheeren www.buro-os.com
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Inside the Interlace ©Büro Ole Scheeren www.buro-os.com
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Inside the Interlace ©Büro Ole Scheeren www.buro-os.com

The Interlace is a novel approach to contemporary living in the tropical context in a metropolis. It rejects the norm on isolated vertical living and devises an articulate and lively design for community-dwelling. It promotes the feasibility of offering exceptional quality of life backed by affordable market price and excellent amenities. The integration of its built form with the surrounding environment and its contribution to social sustainability has brought multiple accolades such as The World Building of the Year (2015) by The World Architecture Festival and 2014 Urban Habitat Award (Council of Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat).

Author

Architectural Journalist

RTF

Mumbai

Ami Mody is a graduate from KRVIA (Mumbai) practicing as an Architect and Interior Designer. She is a voracious reader, interested in the themes of Gender, Space and Politics and their intersection with the built form. She believes the greatest joy in life comes from travelling and a good meal.

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