The Biophilic garden city is that thoroughly bridges the gap and seamlessly blends the built spaces with the unbuilt spaces within its natural precincts. The architecture of this city shows a range of influences from Art Deco to critical regionalism to futuristic buildings. The developing country of Singapore with a dense urban fabric has constructed ecosystems that make the biophilia revived. The city has a moderate to humid climate which allows the flora and fauna to house the buildings easily. Sustainable green buildings are green here! Find out how Singapore evolved through various architectural styles and practices, in this article.
1. The pre-colonial and colonial existence from the past
The 55-year-old nation (2020), displays an extensive amount of restored European colonial architecture as a result of the British rule in the 19th century. The British government rule had established many administrative buildings, eventually, Singapore grew to a prominent port for a trade route to India, Australia, and China. These buildings reflect a Neo-classical style of architecture from a century ago. The restored buildings are being adaptively reused, for instance, the Old hill street Police station built in Neo-classical style was designed under the public works department. An ornate rainbow-colored façade composed of arcades and corbelled loggias. The former use of the building was to house an urban space including a jail, school, and a theatre; now it is renovated to house the ministry of culture. Similarly, the Raffles hotel, National Design Centre, the White rabbit, etc., are some of the exquisite examples of the prevailing neoclassical style of architecture in Singapore.
2. Art Deco and New classical from the Modern Era
One can find numerous influences of Art Deco buildings in Singapore based on the socio-cultural and historical background. These buildings are less ornate than the colonial ones and give a modern and classic aesthetics to the built form. The style was at its zenith in the 1920s to 1930s, with the prevalent features such as machine-Esque aesthetics, symmetrically aligned windows, and balconies, use minimum materials, and colors, etc. The Parkview Square office building in the downtown core with an open plaza reminiscent of Piazza San Marco in Venice. The exterior is clad with brown granite, bronze, lacquer, and glass to give it a modern and classic look inspired by the buildings of New York at that time. Similarly, Tiong Bahru, Cathay building, and Asia Insurance building are few of such examples of Art Deco style in Singapore.
3. The Brutalist Style from Modernism and Postmodernism
This style of architecture evolved in the 1970s in Singapore, majorly in commercial and public buildings. Out of which the most evident brutalist building is the OCBC Centre, also known as ‘the calculator’, built completely out of concrete and steel as structural materials, while glass for the openings. The exposed materials of the building make it a brutalist and iconic design of that era. Although, the present-day importance of the existing brutalist buildings is relatively on the verge of denial. The Singapore land tower in the central business district is a commercial and government office that underwent renovations and still showcases its brutalist features. The Golden Mile Complex is a mixed-use building with a stepped terrace structure.
4. The futuristic Style
The Architectural style of the 20th and 21st century with a ting of sustainability aspect leads to the evolution of futuristic style. The prominent use of glass as a construction material in the façade, to have an organic form of structure, and to maximize views for the user are few of the main features of any futuristic buildings in Singapore. In the case of the Marina bay sands Hotel designed by Ar. Moshe Safdie, the distinctive feature is the Skypark, which is a 3-acre deck on the top of the building. The basic materials used for construction are Reinforced Cement Concrete, Steel, and Glass. The esplanade theatre on the bay has a bioclimate responsive parametric performative façade system, built from aluminum, to be dynamic concerning the sun. It also follows a design concept based on biomimicry inspired by the geometry of the national fruit of Singapore, Durian Fruit, whose skin (facade) protects the inside from the outside. The Duo twin towers designed by Ole Scheeren, are an act of Urban Reconciliation, integrating the surrounding with its high-tech mixed-use built form.
5. Biophilic Style of Architecture
The biophilic style of buildings in Singapore has helped a connection between humans and nature to a larger extent. The energy consumption of the buildings has decreased rapidly and encourages other development projects to be sustainable as well. Biophilic design is a green building in a true sense, and it enhances the microclimate of the built form. For instance, the Gardens by the Bay is an ecosystem in itself. The maximum use of rainwater and recycling systems to the main biodiversity inside the domes of glass. The Parkroyal on Pickering designed by WOHA is a hotel and office in the garden, having pragmatic symbiosis with nature. The orientation of the building and construction material used is such that it reduces the buildings cooling requirements, making it sustainable.
The architecture in Singapore has always kept evolving temporally; the plan remains to create a green city and to contribute to the motive various architecture firms such as WOHA and Grant Associates have given a tremendous contribution by the designs. The vision for the development of the city includes attracting tourists from all over the world and to create an ecological balance in the vertical green city. A philosophy that says, plant the same amount or more vegetation on a terrace or building like that on the ground (site). This concept of integrating nature with humans has helped shape the architectural language of Singapore from the Colonial and Post-Colonial to the Futuristic biophilic city that it is today!