DUO skyscrapers by
Buro Ole Scheeren


Buro Ole Scheeren has unveiled a pair of skyscrapers with concave walls for Singapore's historic Kampong Glam district.

DUO in Singapore by Ole Scheeren

Buro Ole Scheeren has designed the twin DUO towers to have heights of 186 and 170 metres, with the former to contain over 600 apartments, while the latter will accommodate offices and a hotel.

DUO in Singapore by Ole Scheeren

The building will sit between the city's commercial district and the Kampong Glam area, which was once home to the Malaysian aristocracy and today contains a mix of Malay and Muslim communities.

DUO in Singapore by Ole Scheeren

A hexagonal pattern of windows will cover the facades of the towers and floors will step back and forth using a system of cantilevers.

DUO in Singapore by Ole Scheeren

Both towers will feature concave walls, which will frame the outlines of public spaces and gardens at ground level.

DUO in Singapore by Ole Scheeren

Shops will line the base of these elevations, while pedestrian routes will link up with the metro station nearby.

DUO in Singapore by Ole Scheeren

The architect's proposals also include a rooftop restaurant and a public observation deck.

DUO in Singapore by Ole Scheeren

Construction is scheduled to start in 2013, with completion pencilled in for 2017.

DUO in Singapore by Ole Scheeren

Above: building layout - click above for larger image

Ole Scheeren set up his studio in September 2010 after 15 years of working alongside Rem Koolhaas at OMA, where he worked on the CCTV Headquarters building that completed in Beijing earlier this year.

DUO in Singapore by Ole Scheeren

Above: site plan - click above for larger image

Since then, the studio has also revealed plans for a skyscraper in Kuala Lumpur, which you can read about in our earlier story.

DUO in Singapore by Ole Scheeren

Above: proposed massing elevations

Find out more about Ole Scheeren »

Here's the full press release from the architects:

Buro Ole Scheeren unveils design for twin towers DUO in Singapore

The design for this Malaysian-Singaporean joint venture actively engages the space of the surrounding city to form a new civic nucleus in Singapore’s modern metropolis. The two towers are not conceived as autonomous objects, but defined by the spaces they create around them.

Singapore consistently ranks as one of Asia’s most livable cities. However, it is increasingly dominated by isolated individual towers that favor exclusion over social connectivity. The prescribed zoning confronts the project with a dual dilemma: it splits the site into two separate pieces, and leaves large, bulky footprints for the resulting tower envelopes which risk overpowering the surroundings and the intimate scale of the adjacent historic Kampong Glam district.

DUO in Singapore by Ole Scheeren

Above: concept diagram

The design for DUO subtracts circular carvings from the allowable building volumes in a series of concave movements that generate urban spaces – a kind of “urban poché” that co-opts adjacent buildings and symbiotically inscribes the two towers into their context.

By generating the massing through a subtractive process, the elevations of the new towers are reduced to slender profiles. Vertical facades rise skywards along the adjoining roads, while a net-like hexagonal pattern of sunshades reinforces the dynamic concave shapes. The duo of tower volumes is further sculpted to feature a series of cantilevers and setbacks that evoke choreographed kinetic movements of the building silhouettes.

DUO in Singapore by Ole Scheeren

Above: concept diagram

The buildings dematerialize as they reach the ground to provide a porous permeable landscape traversing the site. Leisure zones and gardens act as a connector between multiple transport hubs and establish a flow of tropical greenery and lively commercial activity, accessible to the public 24 hours a day. A plaza, carved into the center of the towers and integrating the neighboring building as part of its perimeter, forms a new public nexus between the historic district of Kampong Glam and the extension of the city’s commercial corridor.

DUO in Singapore by Ole Scheeren

Above: concept diagram

Multiple levels of vertical connectivity give access to large elevated terraces for the hotel and residents, a public observation deck and a sky restaurant atop the office/hotel tower, while establishing a direct connection to the adjacent underground MRT subway station. Vehicular traffic is lifted off the ground to allow uninterrupted pedestrian circulation. Extensive landscape areas at the ground levels, elevated terraces, and roofscapes provide accessible green space equal to 100% of the site area.

DUO in Singapore by Ole Scheeren

Above: concept diagram

The development incorporates environmental strategies through passive and active energy efficient design and naturally ventilated spaces. The building’s orientation is optimized to prevailing sun and wind angles, while the concave building massing captures and channels wind flows through and across the site, fostering cool microclimates within the shaded outdoor spaces.

Embracing civic spaces in a symbiotic relationship with each other and thereby transforming the surrounding multivalent urban fabric, the two sculpted towers act as urban space generators.

  • EddieF.

    After seeing so many shapely and twisting towers that have nothing to do with the surrounding context, it is refreshing to see something that is so direct and makes space.

    • joh

      Am I the only one that sensed Eddie’s blatant sarcasm and gave him a thumbs-up?

  • Nehru

    Curved walls don’t make for efficient use of floor space.

    • moss on rock

      The internal planning is not considered. The architect does not care about it.

  • Great stuff, Joseph. Can't wait to see the real thing!

  • Ann M.

    Amazing work Buro Ole Scheeren. Congratulations!

  • Curilio

    You’ve got to be kidding me! This thing is awfully mediocre and has a boring extruded honeycomb facade! And it is curved to pay its respect and homage to that nasty PoMo building next to it. LMAO! Seriously, get back to the drawing board. This thing is an epic embarrassment.

  • ola

    Do others also think that all the comments saying “congratulations” are coming from Ole Scheeren himself?

  • JBlaze

    Urban poche, yeah right. How does a figure ground diagram based on a series of arbitrary circles somehow make the towers fit into the context of a metropolis of rectangular towers? From the diagrams provided, the significant agencies are traffic intersections, three neighbouring towers and some swoopy arrows.

    The curvilinear language ties the two towers together as part of one whole visually but alienates them from the context at the same time. All the focus is on the plan, none on the elevation – unless hexagons figure in the curvy paradigm somehow.

    • pgdk

      I think it’s a mistake to assume that they are trying to make the towers fit in. It seems like the idea is only to create a series of interesting urban spaces. Would you really want another building to fit in with the generic context anyway? At the end of the day if you create an interesting space in the city, that is what people will remember about a building, much less than things like finicky facade treatments.

      • moss on rock

        Yes, the buildings themselves are, in fact, a non-entity by virtue of the fact that they are a product of the surrounding context. Context in this case meaning distance through the use of obtuse circles. Conceptually the context argument is very poor. Being a “generic city” its context is not defined by existing buildings but other mechanisms.

        Ironically the focus is on the plan, but the office floor plates, the units and the retail spaces are not considered and integrated at all. The towers themselves look like the product of an incestuous relationship.

        I think the porosity of the landscape through the lower levels has some currency, but there are a number of examples of this that already exist in Singapore. The hexagonal facade is used to homogenize the vertical pockets (Poche) not as sun shading or any useful application.

  • Deland

    I actually like it. The project has a very clear intent, which is great to see and especially on a such large scale. Many projects in Asia tend to be about a massive podium with a tower, either with a formal gesture or some funky surface treatment. The base is porous and generous to the city. The interior, carved space is really interesting.

  • Ghost

    Sorry Ole, but you already were a bore at OMA.

  • eric b

    Has anyone seen this guy’s documentary? OMG, simultaneously the funniest and saddiest thing I have seen in a while. Becoming very difficult to take architects seriously.

    • moss on rock

      I saw a few minutes of it and would love to see the rest. I have heard it is another “epic embarrassment.” Anyone know where to find it?

  • Mickey

    Congratulations to myself! OS

  • Lap Tang

    I like the project for being confident, strong and readable. With a site like that, I bet most designers would not be able to come up with something better than a pair of identical towers and somehow this “odd couple” has an interesting appeal.

    Metropolis is meant to be diversified; I don’t have a problem with the curved lines. I think these curves do make space quite effectively. Arbitrary or not? That’s always arguable. Some ‘”blob” schools claim that orthogonal geometries are arbitrary since landscape and nature all show organic forms.

    I think the world would appreciate designers who have the mind and the guts to put forth ideals, way more than they appreciate architectural critics.

    • Dance Dynasty

      Why so serious?

    • tang lap

      I think we can all agree that Lap Tang works for Ole Sheeren.

  • trevor

    Can’t say I’m a big fan of the hexagons, but the overall massing and the way it frames spaces is exciting. It’s also reassuring to see a mixed-use development try to do something so public. Definitely an original concept/design.

  • stm

    I can't wait until these buildings are built so we can compare how wrong and deceiving these renderings are.

  • Carlo

    It this Ole’s design? It has a totally different philosophy from his previous works.

  • chris

    The project makes a clear and concise statement. Regardless of that concept’s validity, that is more than I can say for plenty of high-profile projects getting published these days.

    You can quibble with the statement itself, but what good does that do (especially considering the highly plausible fact that none of the commentary is coming from anyone who has built anything significant)?

    Arguing the arbitrary nature of the circles is pointless as well; the circles themselves aren’t manifested in any way on the site, so how would they gain significance by being aligned to these so-called un-arbitrary points?

    The circles were placed, with reason or not, and the result is a super-simple form that will hopefully create some unique urban spaces (no way to say for sure until it gets built). Personally, I don’t understand the honeycomb tie-in with respect to the overall concept, but at least it provides some visual complexity to the otherwise super-simple towers.

  • Tom A

    The hexagons came from Islamic art and architecture. May have been a requirement by the developer? The developer is 60% owned by the Malaysian government.

  • armeyn

    Why did Rem accept Ole in his company?