"SINGAPORE HAS BALANCED THE NEED FOR
DENSITY WITH PROVIDING PUBLIC SPACE"

| 4 comments

Dezeen and MINI World Tour: Colin Seah of Ministry of Design shows us examples of how Singapore is responding to the challenge of housing a growing population without sacrificing its green spaces in our second movie from the city.

Colin Seah of Ministry of Design, Singapore
Colin Seah of Singapore studio Ministry of Design

"It has been a perennial issue," says Seah. "How do you house five to seven million people on an island that would fit into Lake Geneva?"

"The government could have just said: 'let's not control it, let's have sprawl and have more people living in houses'. But the strategy instead was to protect public spaces and green areas."

The Pinnacle@Duxton by Arc Studio, Singapore
The Pinnacle@Duxton, Singapore, by Arc Studio

Seah takes us to three of his favourite architectural projects around the city, which each tackle the challenge in different ways.

The first is The Pinnacle@Duxton by Singapore architects Arc Studio, a vast public housing complex comprising seven 50-storey tower blocks connected by large bridges and a sky garden at the top.

The Pinnacle@Duxton by Arc Studio, Singapore
The Pinnacle@Duxton, Singapore, by Arc Studio

"It's amazing because on the same piece of land that housed 150 houses [they have built] up to six or seven times the number of family units," says Seah.

The Pinnacle@Duxton by Arc Studio, Singapore
The Pinnacle@Duxton, Singapore, by Arc Studio

"The top level is open to the public, because it is public housing after all. You have a 360 degree panorama of Singapore."

The Interlace, Singapore, designed by former OMA partner Ole Scheeren
The Interlace, Singapore, designed by former OMA partner Ole Scheeren

Next Seah takes us to The Interlace, a new private housing development designed by former OMA partner Ole Scheeren, who has since set up his own studio.

The Interlace, Singapore, designed by former OMA partner Ole Scheeren
The Interlace, Singapore, designed by former OMA partner Ole Scheeren

"Instead of having these tall vertical towers, they broke them down to horizontal towers," says Seah of the complex, which comprises 31 six-storey blocks stacked diagonally on top of each other.

The Interlace, Singapore, designed by former OMA partner Ole Scheeren
The Interlace, Singapore, designed by former OMA partner Ole Scheeren

The blocks are arranged around large hexagonal communal courtyards, while the roofs of the lower blocks provide smaller gardens for the blocks stacked on top of them.

The Interlace, Singapore, designed by former OMA partner Ole Scheeren
The Interlace, Singapore, designed by former OMA partner Ole Scheeren

"Everybody has a chance to use them and look down into them," says Seah. "But you're much closer to the ground than if you were in a vertical tower."

Marina Barrage, Singapore
Marina Barrage, Singapore

Finally, Seah takes us to Marina Barrage, a dam designed to control the water coming in and out of Marina Bay and prevent flooding in low lying areas of the city. The machinery that operates the dam is housed in a large building alongside, which features a public park on its gradually sloping roof.

Marina Barrage, Singapore
Marina Barrage, Singapore

"Instead of being a utilitarian building, there was a really fantastic agenda to infuse it with a public, park-like quality," says Seah.

"On the weekends and evenings it's incredibly popular with families. So for a building that just houses machines, it becomes this living space."

Marina Barrage, Singapore
Roof of Marina Barrage, Singapore

Seah concludes: "The government has been very clever to balance the need for density with more ample public space that people can share collectively."

Marina Barrage, Singapore
Marina Barrage, Singapore

We were in Singapore for World Architecture Festival and Inside Festival, and will be publishing interviews with some of the key speakers in the coming weeks.

We drove around Singapore in our MINI Cooper S Paceman. The music in the movie is a track called Feeling Beast by Man Oeuvre.

You can listen to more music by Man Oeuvre on Dezeen Music Project and watch more of our Dezeen and MINI World Tour movies here.

Our Dezeen and MINI World Tour MINI Paceman in Singapore
Our Dezeen and MINI World Tour MINI Paceman in Singapore
  • avidnyc

    Architecturally illiterate, Eastern European, communist-style boxed-in mausoleums for the masses.

    • H-J

      Isn’t it amazing?

    • dave

      Just because it didn’t work in Europe doesn’t mean it doesn’t work in ultra-high density Asian states, where if you convert all the high-rises into terraced houses there will literally be no green space left. I love how people fall for these sort of generalising, biased comments.

    • Tom

      God forbid they adopt a system which works for them.