Ole Scheeren's The Interlace envisioned as
"a blatant reversal" of tower-block housing


World Architecture Festival 2014: architect Ole Scheeren has revealed more about the motivations behind The Interlace, an "important prototype" for housing where horizontal buildings are stacked diagonally across one another to frame terraces, gardens and plazas (+ slideshow).

The Interlace by Ole Scheeren

Speaking to Dezeen at the World Architecture Festival in Singapore last week, Scheeren described the 170,000-square-metre complex as a "vertical village".

Conceived as the antithesis to tower blocks, The Interlace is made up of 31 apartment buildings that have been arranged and stacked in a honeycomb arrangement to frame eight large hexagonal courtyards.

The Interlace by Ole Scheeren

"What I think is significant and radical about The Interlace is that it is a blatant reversal of a typology," Scheeren told Dezeen in an interview at the World Architecture Festival last week.

"Housing – through the quantities that it has been produced in, and the formulaic nature it has taken out of an almost lethal mix of building regulations, efficiency and profit concerns – has become simply compressed into a very standardised format. I think this project shows in a really dramatic way, and also in a significant scale, that something else is possible."

The Interlace by Ole Scheeren

Scheeren led the project while working at Rem Koolhaas' OMA, although he now runs his own studio, Buro Ole Scheeren.

The development, which was handed over to residents at the end of 2013, accommodates 1,040 apartments of varying sizes. The six-storey blocks are stacked up in twos, threes and fours, creating three peaks of 24 storeys.

The Interlace by Ole Scheeren

Parts of the blocks rest over others, but several also cantilever outwards to shelter spaces below.  This offers residents elevated gardens and roof terraces, both private and communal.

The Interlace by Ole Scheeren

The large multi-storey voids between blocks also help to bring light and ventilation right through the site, as opposed to the isolated environments created by clusters of isolated towers.

The Interlace by Ole Scheeren

Comparing the building to the radical housing developments of the 1960s, Scheeren said the project helps to foster communities: "I guess in the 1960s there were a number of really good ambitions and really powerful ideas but maybe what was missing was a sensitive-enough understanding of the humane, of structures for inhabitation."

The Interlace by Ole Scheeren

"They were incredible structures and I'm really interested in using this structural dimension, but to really imbue it with a very acute sense of place, of space, of inhabitation of people who actually live and work and exist in those places," he said.

The Interlace by Ole Scheeren
Design concept – click for larger image

The eight large courtyards, which have names such as Theatre Plaza, Lotus Pond and Rainforest Spa, offer a variety of amenities, from swimming pools and gyms to barbecue areas, tennis courts, games rooms, and even a one-kilometre running track that surrounds the site.

The Interlace by Ole Scheeren
Greening strategy – click for larger image

These squares form the main entrances for residents and connect up with a network of secondary footpaths that lead through to each home.

A car park is sunken down on a ventilated basement level, but lit from above by openings in the surfaces of the courtyards.

The Interlace by Ole Scheeren
Garden and terrace distribution – click for larger image

Photography is by Iwan Baan.

Project credits:

Client: CapitaLand Singapore Pte Ltd
Developer: Joint development by CapitaLand Singapore and Hotel Properties Limited
Design Architect: OMA, designer and partner-in-charge Ole Scheeren (now at Buro Ole Scheeren)
Architect of Record: RSP Architects, Planners & Engineers Pte Ltd
Structural Engineer(s): T.Y.Lin International Pte Ltd
MEP Engineer: Squire Mech Pte Ltd
Landscape: OMA (Concept/SD) / ICN Design International Pte Ltd
Lighting: Lighting Planners Associates (S) Pte Ltd
Quantity Surveyor: Langdon & Seah Singapore Pte Ltd
Acoustics: Acviron Acoustics Consultants Pte Ltd
Main Contractor: Woh Hup (Private) Limited

  • Shaw

    So a modern version of the Habitat Housing Project, Montreal, Canada 1967 by Moshe Safdie?

  • amsam

    As nice as this looks, this is not the antithesis of tower blocks; it’s a variation on tower blocks. The antithesis of tower blocks is the village where everyone has their own little house and yard and there’s a town square.

  • Arjay Cee

    “… but to really imbue it with a very acute sense of place, of space, of inhabitation of people who actually live and work and exist in those places.”

    – Hi, which stack do you live in?

    – We live in the third stack just above the huge monster HVAC units to the left of the middle stack, where it connects to the bottom stack.

    – Say, that sounds like our stack!

    – Does it? Small world!

  • maishado

    It is very interesting. On the one hand when you look out the window you might see a very urban, dense, Hong Kong-like view even though you really are on a suburban-like site. I guess this is part of the community feel. On the other hand if you completed a traditional tower then everyone might have access to majestic views, but feel less connected.

  • bill

    I genuinely don’t get this one. I like stacking projects as much as the next person, but they seem better suited for pavilion situations like Vitrahaus. It looks like a nice, formal project but I don’t really see how you can make a genuine social argument for the shapes.

  • Hi

    Being inside, under and within the geometry of Safdie’s habitat is amazing. Visit the project!

  • spadestick

    That’s a dumb assumption. There are no HVAC systems. As all air conditioning systems are split per apartment in this region. HVACs only belong in commercial buildings, not residential. Those thick bases at the bottoms of the stacks are beams… very deep ones.

    • Sam

      Not a ‘dumb’ assumption. I’m working on a residential block with HVACs.

      • spadestick

        Well, you obviously don’t understand how it works over here… air conditioning just isn’t shared in residential applications.

  • spadestick

    I have friends who live in this and let’s just say that it consists of less than ideal layouts in most apartments, and that community thing conveyed here doesn’t exist. Also, the commercial or retail component is a joke as the general public isn’t allowed to enter this gated development. Imagine opening a cafe here with less than 5 customers per day based on the internalised population.

    • Chris MacDonald

      Interesting to know!

  • Kay

    I’d argue Habitat 67 is even more modern, particularly in respect to its time. Still, I think this is a lovely effort and really bold and beautifully designed. I would love to see more of this. I don’t really see the merits in terms of space to be honest, but I think it’s aesthetically stunning.

  • villainesta

    I kind of got the feeling that this might have been what Moshe Safdie was inferring in his recent statement, but looking at his Marina Bay Sands one gets somewhat giddy in trying to reconcile the two.

    I seem to remember Smithsons presented the Arabs with a horizontal organisation as opposed to the vertical trophy structure, but that went nowhere. Oh well. When the wells runs dry they will make interesting ruins.

  • Jonathan Tuffin

    Dreadful. Looks like the University of East Anglia’s campus stacked on top of the University of Warwick.

    “I know, let’s take vertical tower blocks and lay them on their side, on top of each other!” It’s about as radical as a 3-year-old shouting “no” in response to every “yes”.