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A U S T R A L I A
DESIGN AND ARCHITECTURE
SPA ESPRIT GROUP WY-TO DESIGNS FOUR OUTLETS
PROJECT #4 STUDIO WILLS + ARCHITECTS
S I N G A P O R E
TANJONG PAGAR WATERFRONT
A TRANSDISCIPLINARY TEAM EXAMINES ITS POTENTIAL
/ SPECIAL REPORT /
COLOUR YOUR WORLD
WHO SAYS THE BATHROOM NEEDS TO BE MONOCHROMATIC? Think sanitaryware and white is most closely associated with them. Why though? Villeroy & Boch is an advocate of using colours to express individuality in the bathroom. This is done through offering a large palette that can be applied onto a wide range of its products. It also has a Colour on Demand service, that has over 200 shades from a wide spectrum of standard RAL or NSC colours in matt or glossy finishes.
The Artis washbasins are crafted from the TitanCeram ceramic material and comes in a host of shapes from round to oval, square or rectangle. It has four harmonious colour schemes in shades of green, yellow, light pink and blue, each with three gradations, as well as a neutral range with three colours in a black-grey spectrum. These colours are handpicked by German-Danish designer Gesa Hansen who was inspired by the kaleidoscope of seasonal colours in Paris.
With its minimalist design, the Memento 2.0 washbasin represents pure understatement. Worth noting is the matt TitanGlaze finish â€“ with colour names like Stone White, Ebony and Graphite â€“ that has a velvet feel because of the high-purity crystalline aluminium oxide in it. This fits equally well in a monochrome concept as well as in a bright and cheerful one.
BATHS The modern design of the Squaro Edge 12 balances comfort and aesthetics perfectly. An inner depth of 45cm means it conserves water well, while a bath rim of only 12mm makes it very slim. Embellish the exterior with vibrant hues like berry red or sunshine yellow to make a statement. This piece won the Interior Innovation Award 2014.
The curved edges of the bath from the La Belle collection
The free-standing Quaryl bath from the Finion collection is an ideal solution
instantly recalls the Romantic era. These juxtapose against
for small spaces. With edges of only 15mm, it comes with an optional design
the straight lines that make up the rim, offering a sensual
ring outside the bath in colours Chrome, Champagne or Gold. The bottom
form that delights. Made from Quaryl, it begs to be ordered
exterior surface can be illuminated in different colours and brightness,
in a pastel pink or baby blue. It won the 2010 Red Dot Design
operated with a remote control, making the bathtub appear to float on a
Award for its elegant and beautiful form.
pedestal of light. The bath received the iF Design Award 2017.
/ FEATURE /
/ WORDS LOW SHI PING
DEALING WITH DENSITY The Future Cities Laboratory has come up with a series of interesting possibilities for how the waterfront at Tanjong Pagar could turn out.
n 2013, it was announced that Singapore’s ports, located in Tanjong Pagar, Keppel, Pulau Brani and Pasir Panjang, will be moved to Tuas by 2027. As a result, prime waterfront land will be freed up, creating a new precinct called the Greater Southern Waterfront. “With about 1,000 hectares of land – an area three times the size of Marina Bay – up for development in the Greater Southern Waterfront after 2030, the landscape we can paint is limited only by our imagination,” says the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA), on its website. The potential of this area caught the eye of Dietmar Leyk from the Future Cities Laboratory (FCL) at the Singapore-ETH Centre. While having a discussion with the URA in early 2016, he came up with the idea
to put together a team to study the site and offer a few possible scenarios. Three years later, in the second quarter of 2019, Leyk is ready to present the findings of his team through a book titled HighDensity Mixed-Use Cities: The Singapore Study, centred around the Tanjong Pagar waterfront area. “We identified the problem to be how we would be living in much higher densities in the future than today. The question therefore is how do we design density well,” he explains, during an interview about the contents of the book. This was the task put forth to a transdisciplinary team he assembled, made up of more than 30 researchers in eight different areas – the largest he has worked with on any project. In doing so, they came up
with five alternative futures for the Tanjong Pagar waterfront. “The goal is to get across a set of ideas about a future that allows the planner and citizen a new perspective on change and on choices yet to be made. “We see our work as being complementary to ongoing work done by the architects or planners, and hopefully by sharing our findings, some ideas, concepts and principles can be applied by the URA.” PIECE BY PIECE Bearing in mind the uncertainty around how the demography and economy of Singapore will develop over the next 40 years, Leyk offers a process that helps to cope with the unknown that includes the use of key strategies for the design
/ IMAGES FUTURE CITIES LABORATORY
ABOUT DIETMAR LEYK
of dense and adaptable urban space and architecture. “We take an interest in the factors and causal relations that influence urban transformation processes. We delve deeper into these relations and make them more transparent by dividing the area into manageable precincts (pictured above and below), and taking into consideration density, inhabitants and workers. “Procedural master-planning and parametric modelling is applied for rapid testing and evaluation of master-planning parameters to explore different urban
configurations of densities.” “Rapid decision-making in the process is supported by visualising large sets of options based on descriptive and measurable parameters. Through this process, planners are better able to react to unforeseen requirements in the future development of the project.” Unsurprisingly, the project was not without its challenges. Because the parameters were not fixed, it was difficult to create solutions without compromising on quality and identity. “It is always a discussion we have when we are working with flexible structures. They look like they have no identity and character but in fact, we are trying to keep a distinct character while being flexible,” points out Leyk. Harnessing new digital technologies to come up with the scenarios was also something that presented its own set of challenges. In creating a highly diverse spatial output, it was important the team implemented a certain “randomness” in the urban space to ensure that not everything looks the same “In this case, we use a certain ‘randomness’ to define spaces that are special for the inhabitants, as a way to create a rich diversity.”
Dietmar Leyk was born in Germany and is a registered architect. He collaborates with multi-national companies, and teaches and researches at renowned universities like ETH Zurich, the Berlage Institute Rotterdam, and FCL at the Singapore-ETH Centre. Leyk has more than 25 years of experience in the fields of architecture, urban design strategies, urbanisation, high-density mixed-use cities, knowledge space architecture, campus architecture and largescale urban projects. He has been responsible for numerous sizable interdisciplinary projects in research, development and design. Design, development and implementation, developing global standards and research projects in urban and real estate developments count among his extensive experience. Leyk is also co-founder of SPACECOUNCIL, which accomplishes international design and research projects in all scales.
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ALTERNATIVE FUTURES The project models five different possible scenarios from which ideas can be adopted. Playing with the elements of population density and land use, Leyk and his team generated a quintet of scenarios, made up of a collection of precincts, that could arise from the Tanjong Pagar waterfront. All five relate to historic morphology and narratives, which were then developed according to specific aims and objectives, such as having fresh water basins and being efficient for autonomous vehicles. Each describes a different way to connect the existing central business district with the new area via the “high park” – the existing Keppel Viaduct – that is proposed to be greened with landscaping.
1 : 20’000
CITY EDGE SCENARIO
CITY EDGE SCENARIO
• This scenario can also be described as minimal impact. • New settlements create a southern edge to the existing northern built developments north of Keppel. • Areas of the harbour (especially those built today on piles that are considered too weak for future development) are demolished and become open water. Pulau Brani and Sentosa are not impacted in this scenario.
GREEN BELT SCENARIO • The entire site acts as a green belt between Pulau Brani and Sentosa. This is similar to having a second Gardens by the Bay. • Two large fresh water basins are located in the centre of the new district. • This scenario acts as a system where flood water can occupy the land inside the green belt in a controlled way. It comes with with a distinct ability to have hydrological, morphological and biological dynamics. • There is a large number of green bridges. 0
VENICE SCENARIO • The mainland and Pulau Brani are connected by two freshwater reservoirs and several green bridges. • Dams are built to create the reservoirs. • Canals are carved out and mixed-use architecture are built along them, like in Venice. The canal system is pedestrianised by bridges. • Industrial buildings in Keppel Distripark are preserved to retain a connection to the site’s past. • Southern Pulau Brani and Sentosa are not impacted in this scenario.
ABOUT THE SITE AREA OF SITE
LAND AREA NUMBER OF INHABITANTS NUMBER OF WORKERS
600 HECTARES (INCLUDING WATER AREA) 300 HECTARES 160,000 100,000
STATUS QUO SCENARIO • New settlements occupy all the existing harbour area, including the area built today on piles on the mainland and Pulau Brani. • Two large fresh water basins are located in the centre of the new district. • Sentosa is not impacted in this scenario.
SENTOSA LINK SCENARIO • The entire site is connected by a generous urban landscape of water bodies, forests and gardens. Higher densities will be found closer to the central business district, with it decreasing as you move away and towards the sea. • Three freshwater basins, promenades and canals are fully developed.
• Two botanical islands, acting as subtropical parks, connect Pulau Brani with Sentosa. • An eco-bridge connects Mount Faber and Pulau Brani. The bridge is dedicated to animals and pedestrians. • A dam system (dyke) is constructed, where building and landscape elements merge. This system located along the water edges provides this part of the coast from the rising sea level in the future. • Sentosa receives a residential cluster closely connected to nature and sports. • This scenario can be described as the maximum scenario, since it uses the maximum parameters of 160,000 inhabitants, 100,000 workers and land use. • This is optimised for autonomous vehicles. The yellow MRT line is extended from the mainland to Sentosa.
/ REPORT /
/ WORDS LOW SHI PING
FAIR FINDS A trip to Frankfurt, Germany in February unearthed a plethora of discoveries at Ambiente 2019 that would interest architects and designers.
ttending fairs is a little bit like peering into the future â€“ and none more so than Ambiente. The annual trade event is one of the most important consumer goods exhibitions in the world, and we had an invitation to visit. Over five days, from 8 to 12 February, we had a front row seat to what brands from the Living, Dining and Giving industries had rolled out for buyers to order (usually by the container-loads) to sell in their home country. But how was this relevant to architects and designers, you might wonder? Simply put, it was a chance to understand what the
trends would be like, mainly in the Living and Dining spaces, and seeing what consumers will be buying in the year(s) ahead. Through her interactions with designers, this writer has learnt that these days, clients are no longer just asking them to conceptualise a space. They are also seeking recommendations for tableware, what to display on a shelf, and even how to match the clock on the wall with the furniture. That is why fairs like Ambiente are important to understand what is being offered by brands in these areas, in order to give the best suggestions to the client.
ON THE SIDE Apart from the exhibition halls, kudos to the organiser Messe Frankfurt Exhibition for curating fringe events to make the experience more novel. A fixture on the calendar is the partner country, and this year, the honour went to India. Set up at Galleria 1 was a presentation curated and created by Indian designer Ayush Kasliwal of AKFD Studio, based in Jaipur. Against the backdrop of a structure designed to be an abstract of an Indian city, distilled into pure and simple lines, Kasliwal selected a range of products to be displayed.
/ PHOTOGRAPHY MESSE FRANKFURT EXHIBITION GMBH / PIETRO SUTERA, JEAN-LUC VALENTIN
AMBIENTE 2019 IN NUMBERS AREA
4,451 FROM 92 COUNTRIES NON-GERMAN EXHIBITORS
NUMBER OF BUYERS
136,000 BUYERS FROM 166 COUNTRIES
The most important criteria was that they are handmade, showing off one of India’s most significant strengths. But what jumped out more was their colours from every shade in the rainbow, to create tables, chairs, fabrics, lamps and flatware, just to name a few. “I broke them down into stories, such as around spices and water, and arranged the products accordingly,” said Kasliwal. Opposite Galleria 1 was an exhibition on the German Design Award 2019. Messe Frankfurt Exhibition has been a main sponsor of the German Design Council for more than 30 years, hence the collaboration
to show the winners at Ambiente. “Messe Frankfurt is the only trade show company which is design-oriented,” said Nicolette Naumann, its Vice President, further explaining the tie-up. “For example, we have a very strict corporate identity and we have one florist for the entire show to ensure consistency.” Among the items on display were NES, an electric scooter designed by NITO; the pearl bottle, a classic mineral water container by Gunter Kupetz that celebrates its 50th birthday; and even a pair of safety shoes, the uvex 1 sport, by Scherf Design. If you are wondering about how a consumer goods fair is faring in an age where brick-and-mortar stores are fast becoming extinct, Ambiente has that covered too. The Gruschwitz design studio was behind the Point of Experience booth that presented ideas on how to integrate online and offline retail.
Using applications such as touch modules that can digitally store entire catalogues, it demonstrated how visual merchandising can use technology to innovate itself. For instance, a brand selling tableware can use augmented reality to instantly “show” the customer how their selection of dinner plates can dress a table. “We are aware that these applications are already available in Asia, but we still don’t see them in Europe. This is about using technology to connect with the emotions to do retail,” said Nikolai Gruschwitz, the Head of New Media.
/ REPORT /
DINING NATURAL MATERIALS, ETHNIC DESIGNS From Villeroy & Boch comes the Manufacture Rock tableware collection, a surprisingly real take on slate, available in deep grey and white. Upon this roughened surface, the dessert décor line goes a step further. It is inspired by the dot painting style of the Papunya artist colony, which are part of the Australian Aborigines, adding an original touch to any table setting.
Frédérick Gautier has worked with Serax to create a collection made from cement stoneware or earthenware. Available as plates, bowls, teapots and mugs, they pay tribute to architecture and a material so key to building construction.
CRYSTAL-BALL GAZING An important fringe event was the trends showcase, curated by design studio bora.herke.palmisano. It presented three major themes: 1. Tasteful Residence is about craftsmanship, rich colours and sensual materials for that relaxed, timeless elegance 2. Quiet Surrounding points towards washed-out, harmonious colours, the search for simplicity and a focus on natural materials 3. Joyfilled Ambience is styled as having no rules, where powerful tones and patterns convey high energy accents to evoke movement and surprise
Apart from the professionals, students from Fontsys university in The Netherlands also trawled Ambiente to identify trends that they then packaged into tours for fair-goers. This writer joined them on one in a Dining hall, and was pleased to discover that there was a meeting of minds on this topic, such as the penchant for natural materials. Here, we present some interesting finds in both the Dining and Living halls occupied by brands that have more contemporary designs.
UNCONVENTIONAL COLLABORATIONS Rosenthal teamed-up with Sardinian tattoo artist Pietro Sedda to release a range, Cilla Marea, printed with his designs. Dreams merge with reality, created with light brush strokes that evoke romance, mystery and a touch of goth. HANDMADE ARTISTRY Representation from Japanese manufacturers was strong this year. Particularly eye-catching were the Wakasa Lacquer Chopsticks from Kawai. Produced in Obama City in Fukui, they are made by applying multiple layers of lacquer and then grinding the surface – entirely by hand, no less.
LIVING JUST PLAIN CUTE The cuckoo clock gets a 21st century update with Progetti. One bird pops out wearing a bowler hat and sunglasses, another swings from the pendulum, aptly named Freebird Tarzan. The Italian brand also creates other time-telling devices that are innovative and cheeky, such as one named Birdwatching, complete with a tree.
SMALL SPACES A wall or standing shelf that can become a table? That is what the Swing does, from the Eve Collection manufacture. Using recessed casters that allow this, all that is needed is to unlock the mechanism and swing it into action. The multi-functional piece saves space and comes in a variety of colours and materials to suit both indoor and outdoor needs.
From Croatia comes Tabushi, a brand making furniture that looks like sushi (salmon, tuna and avocado, specifically). Using wood and polyester, they create poufs that double up as storage bins, bar stools and even small benches, inspired by nigiri. LOVELY LEATHER Need to clad a Nespresso machine in the same colour as a favourite capsule? Or a matching set of trays for a side table? How about a clothes hanger for that haute couture gown? Leather-maker Giobagnara can do all of the above and more. It creates leather products handcrafted to the highest standards, but can also do all manners of bespoke, in every shape and colour.
One tension rod. That was the starting point of Draw A Line, a company founded by Heian Shindo, a Japanese living product manufacturer, in collaboration with creative duo Tent. From there, it can be used to hang items such as clothes hangers, shelves or even a lamp. Free from nails and drilling, it operates using a screw lock method making it easy to install.
“HERE AT AMBIENTE, WE CAN STILL FEEL THE HUSTLE AND BUSTLE OF WORLD TRADE, EVEN IF THERE ARE ALREADY QUITE A FEW SIGNS OF A DOWNTURN IN THE ECONOMIC OUTLOOK.” – Detlef Braun, Member of the Executive Board, Messe Frankfurt GmbH
/ REPORT /
/ WORDS DUNCAN FORGAN
FORWARD MOTION The second instalment of Bangkok Design Week saw Thai designers look to the future while paying close mind to the past.
ith its gold-spired temples, spirit houses, gilded palaces and vibrant street food culture, Bangkok is steeped in tradition. On the other hand, the metropolis – long a cradle for new ideas and a magnet for the country’s sharpest minds – is hurtling towards the future as a hub for different ideas. This frisson between old and new was very much to the fore during “Fusing Forward”: the second instalment of Bangkok Design Week, which took place at the end of January. Organised by the Thailand Creative & Design Center (TCDC), the seven-day showcase of all things design-related built on the momentum generated by the inaugural edition, held in 2018. In fact, with TCDC now firmly installed at its gigantic new premises in the Thai capital’s historic Grand Postal Building on Charoenkrung Road, organisers had the opportunity to stretch out a little creatively during this year’s run. Product showcases were just one aspect of a creative extravaganza that saw the city’s riverside area – home to TCDC and numerous other leftfield ventures – buzz with exhibition openings, food events and other hip happenings. Guests enjoyed film screenings, panel discussions, workshops and networking opportunities held at TCDC and other venues around the city. For many though, the main draw of the event was the opportunity to see how Thai designers warmed to the overarching theme through a range of prototypes and products showcased at various exhibitions held throughout the week. Their eye-catching efforts provided more proof (if it was required) that Bangkok Design Week is, indeed, helping the Thai design scene to “fuse forward”.
TREND 1: / TINKERING WITH TRADITION / Thailand Design Week’s overarching theme of how age-old local traditions can be incorporated into contemporary design informed many products at the event.
TRI PILLOW Anyone who has kicked back at a beach bar on one of the Thai islands will be familiar with the traditional triangle pillow. Once a familiar sight in almost every Thai household where families and friends would gather round on the floor for meals and social gatherings, the triangle pillows have largely been superseded by contemporary seating. With its TRI pillow, Everyday Studio has attempted to update the classic design. Its simple embroidery is evocative of Thai tropes, and it has a timeless look. But this updated take is tailored ergonomically towards supporting sitting positions on modern chairs and sofas.
ARMA HERBAL Although prized by users for their health-giving qualities, it is fair to say that herbal inhalants suffer from something of an image problem in Thailand – especially among the young. Viewed as something of relic used mostly by the elderly, herbal inhalants are largely ignored by Bangkok’s cool set. In an attempt to update this aspect of traditional Thai culture for a younger generation, design house Krit Phutpim x dot studio has housed a range of herbal inhalants in sleek, compact packaging, reminiscent of the hippest new vapes on the market.
THE MIRROR OF FORTUNE In common with other Asian cultures, Thais have a strong feeling for items that can bestow good or bad luck. Even the most innocuous objects can carry meaning in a country where keeping a dirty kitchen is believed by some to be a sure-fire drain on the finances and a handkerchief given to a lover as a gift is said to be a precursor to a split. Therefore, designers Boonmee Sukprasertcha and Kanokpon Yokchoo set out to engender positive vibes from the start by giving this mirror an uplifting name in order to boost the confidence and fortunes of its owner.
/ MIXED-USE /
/ WORDS LOW SHI PING
A GLEAMING BEACON Singapore’s tallest building, Tanjong Pagar Centre, represents a step towards the future while keeping close to the present and past.
ingapore’s skyline has received a prominent new addition. Standing at 290m, Tanjong Pagar Centre is a mixed-use development designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP (SOM) and is the tallest building in the country. It is made up of a retail podium, Grade A offices, residential component (Wallich Residence) and hotel (Sofitel Singapore City Centre).
STEP BY STEP Viewed from the east, the massing appears like it is composed of two buildings instead of one. Go around to the western end and a “third” building is visible. All three are united by a six-storey podium. This solution, says SOM Associate Director Nicolas Medrano, was chosen to prevent a bulky massing due to the sheer amount of program area required. “Splitting the building apart allowed us
/ PHOTOGRAPHY / PHOTOGRAPHY GUOCOLAND, STUDIO STUDIO PERIPHERY PERIPHERY
/ MIXED-USE /
/ 1-2 The City Room is styled as an urban park with solar panels that line the roof of the 15m-tall canopy. It is also made up of glass with BIPV technology that lets light filter through.
to create a sense of slenderness that would have been difficult to achieve otherwise,” he explains. “The much larger office floorplate at the lower half of the [main] tower steps back [from] the [slimmer] residential floorplate above. “The hotel building to the west is an extension of this design language as it steps down to the neighbouring Tanjong Pagar.” The east-west orientation of the site is deliberate, mirroring the flow of pedestrian and public transportation activity on and underground. In order not to dominate the skyline with too bulky a massing, the svelte form of the residential tower tapers upwards, accentuating the building’s verticality. Given how important the crown of the building is both for the tower and
2 Singapore, Medrano reveals that SOM opted for a faceted, shimmering form. “[This is] a beacon that complements Singapore’s ever-changing skyline, serves as a new gateway to the city, and represents a step toward the future.”
TANJONG PAGAR CENTRE LOCATION COMPLETION ARCHITECTURE WALLICH RESIDENCE PUBLIC AREAS SOFITEL SINGAPORE CITY CENTRE DEVELOPER CONSTRUCTION PROJECT AREA NUMBER OF STORIES BUILDING HEIGHT
Inside it is another jewel: the super penthouse of Wallich Residence, a one-ofits-kind triplex that spans 21,000ft2. A glass-floored viewing deck is found on the same floor as the entrance to the unit, albeit in a different section, offering panoramic views of the city and the ocean in the distance. Yet, even as it has lofty ambitions, Tanjong Pagar Centre remains close to the ground. Medrano points to how the lower portions of the project – the office floors
SINGAPORE 2018 SKIDMORE, OWINGS & MERRILL LLP (SOM) WILSON ASSOCIATES SINGAPORE WILSON ASSOCIATES SINGAPORE GUOCOLAND SAMSUNG C&T CORPORATION 157,608.27M2 64 290M
of the tower and hotel – resonate with the conservation shophouses of Tanjong Pagar, while the residential portion aligns with the business district. At the same time, the project is also integrated with the community by way of the City Room on the road level. This is styled as an urban park with retail outlets, eateries, public art, outdoor performance areas and access to the underground pedestrian network that connects to the train station. “The City Room is essential to the
/ ABOVE Cross-section of the six-story podium that connects all three components of the project.
/ COMMERCIAL /
/ WORDS ROSSARA JAMIL
A UNIQUE FAMILIARITY To bolster the Spa Esprit Group’s distinctive feel-good brand identity, design studio WY-TO brought a cross-pollination of ideas to several of its beauty and food and beverage outlets.
Yann Follain, Managing Director and Head of Design of WY-TO
ulti-disciplinary design studio WY-TO’s primary scope entails exhibitions, installations and curatorial works. These include exhibitions at the National Gallery and the ArtScience Museum. Yann Follain, WY-TO’s Managing Director and Head of Design, was also the Festival Director of Archifest 2018. Speaking of his first encounter with the Spa Esprit Group’s founder Cynthia Chua, he says, “She saw our exhibitions and how we could transform spaces to promote the arts, and said that she knew we could do the same for retail. “She asked me what my vision was. Based on what she was explaining to me, I told her ‘Alice in Wonderland’, the idea of gazing through the looking glass.” In 2017 and 2018, the lifestyle company appointed WY-TO to conceptualise four Singapore outlets. These are Strip and Browhaus at ION Orchard, Spa Esprit at Wheelock Place, Strip at Paragon and Tiong Bahru Bakery at Chip Bee Gardens. In line with the Spa Esprit Group’s belief in an individualistic look for each outlet, WY-TO proposed diverse concepts. For instance, Spa Esprit at Wheelock Place
features soft curves and a farm-to-beauty concept. Compared to the quirky vibe of the ION Orchard outlet, Strip at Paragon sports a deeper palette and brass surfaces. These produce an upscale look to cater to the clientele there. “Each project was radically different, in textures and the look and feel, for the target customers and locations,” Follain shares. “What’s important is to ensure a sense of well-being with high customisation, uniqueness and familiarity.” Working with Chua and the Spa Esprit Group team entailed design thinking discussions on the role of design in the retail, beauty and food and beverage businesses. Though the outlets are wildly different, there is one common thread that gives the brands a shared identity. Says Follain, “The Spa Esprit Group is not looking for trends, but experiences and uniqueness. Strip and Browhaus at ION Orchard is different from Strip at Paragon, yet the attention to detail is the same. It’s the idea that it’s something familiar, where you recognise it and you feel good. You would want to come back and share it with others. It’s a very personal feeling.”
/ ABOVE With seating areas here, customers can explore and experience the various products at Spa Esprit, Wheelock Place comfortably.
/ PHOTOGRAPHY FRANK PINCKERS & FABIAN ONG
Scan the QR code for an interview with Cynthia Chua, Founder and Chairman of Spa Esprit Group and Wonderscape Holdings, on the importance of design in her projects.
/ COMMERCIAL /
SPA ESPRIT AT WHEELOCK PLACE The first brand by Chua, Spa Esprit started out in Holland Village over 20 years ago. It has since gone through changes. Comparing the current 200m2 outlet to its former nature-surrounded space, Follain explains, “Customers went to the Dempsey outlet for a reason. How can we create something similar in a highly dense area in a shopping mall? “The vision I had was very soft, all rounded, curved and smooth like our body. We also used a vocabulary of leaves, plants, wallpaper and wooden materials that pay tribute to the old Spa Esprit in Dempsey.”
The material palette supports the “farm to beauty” concept. Customers walk through a winding green-carpeted passageway that contrasts against the wood finishes and blue mosaic tiles. Private treatment rooms flank the passageway. In addition to shelves showcasing skincare and apothecary products, ample
seating lines sections of the passageway. Here, customers can relax and explore the products, hidden away from the busy mall. Inside the private treatment rooms, wallcoverings depict scenes of nature, yet the use of vibrant colours like purple, orange and green give each room a different vibe.
SPA ESPRIT, WHEELOCK PLACE INTERIOR DESIGNER TEAM PROJECT MANAGER AND COORDINATOR CONCEPT FLOOR AREA CONTRACTOR COMPLETION
WY-TO YANN FOLLAIN, NAUFAL KAMAL RAJU THARMARAJAN RAMACHANDRA (SPA ESPRIT GROUP) JUNGLE ESCAPE 200M2 JTECH INTERIOR 2018
/ OFFICE /
/ WORDS NIZAR MUSA
THROUGH THE KALEIDOSCOPE Step into the trendy co-working space of WORQ Subang that uses design to bring happiness and joy.
o-working is estimated to produce 30,000-plus spaces and 5.1 million users worldwide by 2022. Itâ€™s a cracking business, with the Asia Pacific region leading the charge. More than a hundred co-working spaces have emerged in Malaysiaâ€™s Klang Valley in recent years, among them WORQ,
a company whose sophomore outing in Subang builds upon the success of their first outlet using design to outdo the competition. VERSION 2.0 The first WORQ space opened its doors in March 2017 to much success, delivered on a schedule that demanded expediency.
/1 A fluted white desk, suspended company logo, herringbone prints and red sprinkler piping pop against the deep blacks of the reception area.
/ PHOTOGRAPHY RUPAJIWA STUDIO
A feature construct of pseudo-industrial framing, offset by an array of lighting, creates an Instagram-able corridor effect that connects reception to the meeting rooms and event space.
/ OFFICE /
“It was a very tight timeline, one of those things where we had to design and construct at the same time,” says Ramesh Seshan of Seshan Design, the designers behind WORQ’s co-working environments. “The biggest co-working space in the world back then, was WeWork. We started with that sort of model, so what we had in the end (at Glo Damansara) was a WeWork look-and-feel, mixed with some Malaysian elements.” Fast-forward to October 2018, and the community saw the official launch of WORQ Subang, located in a recently completed business park a stone’s throw away from the populous Subang Jaya suburb. The base building came with distinct advantages: 22,000ft2 of floor space, unrestricted external views, more natural daylight courtesy of a central courtyard, a generous floor-to-ceiling and good accessibility via highway and rail. Rather than duplicating the first outlet, the designers opted to revisit the design in Version 2.0 to iron out the kinks. Explains Seshan, “We received a lot of feedback on the original, from tenants and end-users: what they liked, what worked, what didn’t work. And from there, we started to tweak the design.”
/ 2-3 The pantry and breakout area features a myriad palette of timbers, punchy colours and stylised graphics that capture the essence of today’s café culture.
Evidence of up-spec can be seen in meeting room doors and partitions. Annealed panels in powder-coated framing are now entirely double-glazed, offering greater sound insulation and mitigating leakage; phone booths’ soundproofing is likewise upgraded. These are pricey additions, but are nonetheless a big plus for tenants. ECLECTICISM AND CAFÉ CULTURE Creative differences often pose the biggest challenge to design, as was the case at WORQ Subang. But the issues weren’t unsurmountable. “Once the layout was firm, we did take a lot of input from the client. For me, in a
place like this, the direction doesn’t really matter because it’s quite eclectic by nature. You can have pretty much anything under the sun,” offers Seshan. That eclecticism invariably is a selling point. Consider the high-contrast setting of the reception area: a black timber-strip backdrop enhanced by a herringbone chequerboard of batik prints, offset by a fluted powder-white counter, topped by a giant suspended company logo. Inserted into this gamut, virtually indistinguishable thanks to concealed hinges, is a secret door that opens to a private administrative office. The café-styled members-only pantry and breakout area, seen from the lobby,
/ OFFICE /
/ WORDS PRAISE POH
DESIGNED TO CONNECT Defying the image of a conventional researchÂ facility, NICCA Innovation Center in Fukui, Japan is a stimulating space bursting with natural light and ventilation.
/ PHOTOGRAPHY TAKAHIRO ARAI
esigned by Tokyo-based Tetsuo Kobori Architects, NICCA Innovation Center – a new research centre for NICCA Chemical Group – is a user-centred, four-storey building. Asked by the client “to create a facility that would be a source of innovation, bringing people from the world to Fukui”, Kobori and his team wanted the building to be about its people.
As such, they organised multiple workshops with the employees and / BELOW chemists, actively involving them in the Besides concealing ducts and plumbing design and construction process. ELEMENTS OF INTERACTION In his quest to “liberate the researchers” from their otherwise extremely individual work routine that is devoid of human interaction, Kobori glassed in all the
lines, the double layer of aluminium louvers installed on the façade is also used to mitigate sunlight from the east.
/ OFFICE /
/1 A perspective view out to the commons showing the various layers found within the Center.
laboratories that were previously closed off and set up spacious common areas (which he refers to as “commons”) in the centre of the building as a hot-desk work environment. “The glass laboratories are linked seamlessly with the commons to produce rapid interactions while engendering the formation of an integrated research community. The commons is a space where people, the natural environment, activities, and tools are constantly in flux. “We felt that a space that could be used for multiple purposes and facilitate active interactions by a diverse range of people would be an ideal concept for the new Innovation Center,” Kobori explains. While the commons on the second and third floor are restricted to the employees, there is an area for the public on the first floor where visitors can interact with the researchers at NICCA Chemical. A café, cafeteria, laboratory, hair salon, and hall are also located on the first floor as the team wished to create a lively urban bazaar, where knowledge and technologies can be exchanged globally in the open space. This would also help to facilitate and encourage innovation among the people who work there.
2 Interestingly, the lines of sight from these cubic commons overlap threedimensionally. In other words, activities at the commons are visible to all. All furniture and light fixtures in the commons are moveable so that these open spaces can be easily transformed to serve various purposes. The “main street” that runs from the first to the fourth floor allows one a bird’s eye view of the place, akin to one exploring a museum with its multi-layered experience.
/2 To promote learning and interaction, nine neatly designed Show Cubes are displayed on the ground floor for visitors to learn more about the innovation behind NICCA Chemical.
/ OPPOSITE Light-diffusing fabrics were installed in the ceiling to bring natural light to the commons.
/ ABODE /
/ PHOTOGRAPHY FINBARR FALLON, YEO KAI WEN (THE YEO GALLERY) & LIM WEI XIANG
/1 Project #4 is a Kahnsian case study nestled within Bukit Timah’s Victoria Park Villas.
/ WORDS DAVEN WU
A CONTINUOUS CONVERSATION Two consecutive bungalow projects in the same neighbourhood have invariably informed one another while mitigating a range of design challenges at the same time.
or architect William Ng, the principal of Studio Wills + Architects which he set up in 2013, the foundation of every project begins with the question, “What is the served space?”. It is an existential koan that Ng says originates with Louis Kahn, but transplanted into the Singaporean urban fabric in which real estate is finite and social dynamics involve several generations living together. His latest completed work, tagged simply Project #4, is a Kahnsian case study nestled within Bukit Timah’s Victoria Park Villas. W Architects’ masterplan for the CapitaLand development consists of 106 semi-detached terrace houses and three bungalows grouped into a central island of houses designed by AR43 which, in turn, is surrounded by a necklace of houses by HYLA.
CONNECTING TWO PLOTS Sitting at strategic junctions are bungalows, two of which are designed by Ng to provide what he describes as visual breaks. Project #3, which was conceived before Project #4, takes its cues from the neighbouring houses. “How do you impose a big house into a neighbourhood of smaller houses?”, Ng asks. To avoid an out-of-scale silhouette and to comply with local planning guidelines, Ng broke the plan down to smaller masses that are the depth of one room and strung them out along an elongated plot, the better to maximise light, ventilation and views. Ng describes Project #4 as an iteration of Project #3, specifically “a group of prismatic sand-coloured volumes, arranged in a flower-like pattern, linked by black-coloured connectors”. “We took the forms of Project #3 and
/ ABODE /
Project #4 refits the massing of Project #3 onto a tighter triangular plot.
rearranged them onto a triangular plot that, like #3, also took into consideration their relationships with the smaller neighbouring houses,” he says. It certainly helped that Ng’s brief for Project #4 especially was elegantly spare. “‘The house needs to have a living and dining room, and six bedrooms.’ That was it. That was the brief!” Simplicity, of course, brings its own challenges and translating CapitaLand’s brief proved to be something of a headscratcher. “Why anyone would need to have six bedrooms in the first place?” Ng asks. He returned to fundamentals – to Louis Kahn, in particular. Which is why
the American architect’s edict looms large over Project #4. As does Japanese architect Riken Yamamoto who espouses deconstructed spaces that cater for individuality while allowing several generations to live together collectively.
/2 Despite the intricate massing and tight loading, the effect is one of lightness and transparency.
A “SIMPLE” SOLUTION In this way, Project #4 evolved into a multi-generational home in which the living spaces for the main household is hived off from the secondary household and guest quarters. The sectional quality of the floor-plan for the four-storey house explicitly reacts to the triangular plot, the various room-blocks
/ PEOPLE /
/ WORDS LOW SHI PING
THE CASE FOR RAIL Chew Tai Chong, Global Rail Leader at Arup, offers a compelling argument for why this piece of infrastructure is vital to urban planning.
he railway is one of the most efficient methods of moving people from one place to another, especially if the journey takes less than four hours. This is a belief strongly upheld by Chew Tai Chong, Global Rail Leader at Arup. That is why as urbanisation progresses on its merry way in Asia, this mode of transport should remain top of the agenda for city planners. “For example, in Indonesia, only 20 percent of the population lives in urban areas, but that figure will climb. This will inevitably put stress on the cities as people move in. Rail has a big part to play in improving mobility,” points out Chew. Indeed, rail encompasses mass transit, light rail, monorail and even trams. Given the conditions of the urban area, it is important to analyse and understand which solution best fits the situation. Among the factors to take into consideration include the population density, geographical conditionality, vibrancy or how busy the area is, and the state of the road system. Sometimes, all that is needed is a tram system than a mass transit network. “When we look at a city’s development and its railway, it’s all about creating the right kind of mobility and a sustainable means of transport,” says Chew. He cites the example of Strasbourg in France, where the city was suffering from serious congestion and air pollution due to vehicular traffic. After a tram system was built that delivered residents directly into the downtown, it was “transformed”. More importantly, the project has to be financially and economically viable. This means ensuring that the revenue earned from the passengers who use the network should be sufficient to pay for the cost of its construction and its maintenance. If it is not, then alternative sources must be sought, for instance through selling advertising space in the stations, or increasing ridership through a park-andride scheme. Political will is essential too. Chew points
towards Singapore as an example. The Land Transport Authority’s aim is to have more than 300km of railway network by 2030. With this, residents will walk less than 10 minutes from their home to gain access to a transport point. It is already on the way there. By the time the Thomson East Coast Line is ready, that figure will stand at 230km. “Singapore has that vision and political drive to create this. But not every country does, because of different political parties and their expectations. Governments these days are faced with numerous challenges,” he recognises. Another way to look at it is to go beyond the dollars and sense. Chew cites how a study found that an estimated £20 billion are lost per annum in the UK because of congestion, “If we can solve that, how much economic value could we potentially generate? We have to look at the social value too.” Case in point: in September last year, the first bullet train travelled between Hong Kong and Shenzhen, cutting travel time from up to 60 minutes, to just 15 minutes. It means the former’s population of seven million is now connected to the 60 million living in the Pearl River Delta region faster than ever, presenting even more economic opportunities. There are social benefits too. Someone living in Guangzhou can now visit and enjoy a Friday evening cultural performance in Hong Kong, then travel back and be home before midnight, all because of this new high-speed rail connection. “The railway has always been a city connector that enables people from different corners of the city [and a country] to reach in a reasonable journey time,” emphasises Chew. We couldn’t agree more.
Scan the QR code to find out more on how digitisation can solve the challenges faced by railway infrastructure.
/ BEST PRACTICE /
/ WORDS LOW SHI PING
CREATIVE REINTERPRETATIONS Vernacular design and adaptive reuse are the focal points of these two best practices.
he small alleys of Phuket’s old town are packed with heritage shophouses that are long and narrow. These are like a human comfort system with an air-well in the middle that breaks the building’s length, and enables daylight and wind to enter the building naturally. The liberal use of patterned solar screens and patterned lattice panels help maintain the privacy of the occupants, while allowing for proper ventilation. This is interesting as it shows how cultural practices have influenced the shape of a building. It reveals how our predecessors were very resourceful – they were able to make use of whatever materials they had with them to increase natural light and facilitate air flow in buildings. These help in reducing both the cooling and energy load of the building, making the building more eco-friendly. We incorporated these air-wells and patterned openings into our recent project, Hotel Indigo Phuket Patong, in Thailand. They are placed strategically on the exterior façade that connects to the guestroom corridor. The biggest is placed
in the middle to break the length of the building. They have gone on to define and shape the hotel’s identity. By utilising local designs and practices, it adds to the hotel’s character and helps to encapsulate what we call Phuket’s story: a confluence of heritage from the native sea
gypsies (fishing village), a glorious history of the banana leaf forest from the landscape of Patong (tropical rainforest), and a celebration of Thai nightlife.” Pisit Sayampol, Principal, Habita Architects
ustainable design should not be adopted as a trend but be of great priority in any practice. What we do today will benefit future generations and minimise the negative impact on the environment. One way to do this is through adaptive re-use. This is both creatively challenging and rewarding to the Planet Earth. An example of this application is at The Merchant bar of Armada Hotel in Petaling Jaya, Malaysia. The client wanted to refurbish the existing bar as it was outdated, by throwing away all the old furniture and fittings, and replacing them.
However, we saw an extremely beautiful and rare timber swivel bar stool and couldn’t resist reviving it. It is hard to find such good workmanship. Today, the refurbished bar stools blend uniquely with the design concept and new modern furniture. Through this, we proved that old and unwanted materials can be creatively reused.” Chin Pak Loong, Principal, CHINPAKLOONG Architect
/ AVANT-GARDE /
DEMOCRATISING 3D PRINTING / WORDS LOW SHI PING /
Impress your next potential client with a 3D model of the building you are proposing to design for them. HP has just launched its new Jet Fusion 300 and 500 series of 3D printers, targeted at small- to medium-sized architecture and design firms, product development teams, universities and research institutions. This range can also create engineering-grade, functional and fullcolour parts, regardless of industry or design complexity. Additionally, it enables a seamless transition from prototyping to full production on the same printer, which supports the three leading colour file formats of OBJ, VRML, and 3MF.
Other benefits of this 3D printer: the ability to print in a fraction of the time compared to its competitors, and the lowest cost per part. What are you waiting for?
Our April/May 2019 is all about twinning. We published two reports: one on Ambiente, an important consumer goods exhibition, and the other o...
Published on Mar 29, 2019
Our April/May 2019 is all about twinning. We published two reports: one on Ambiente, an important consumer goods exhibition, and the other o...