Moshe Safdie completes Singapore Sky Habitat featuring aerial "streets" and gardens


Moshe Safdie's firm has completed its Sky Habitat project in Singapore – a pair of balcony-covered housing towers linked by three aerial walkways (+ slideshow).

Sky Habitat by Moshe Safdie

The two residential towers in Singapore's Bishan neighbourhood contain a total of 509 apartments, each with its own balcony overlooking a swimming pool and gardens slotted in the central void.

Safdie Architects designed three broad bridges framed by thick white trusses to span this void.

Sky Habitat by Moshe Safdie

These elevated "streets" feature areas of planing and seating, and are intended to provide communal outdoor areas for high-rise residents.

The uppermost bridge also hosts a vertiginous swimming pool – a trend featured in many proposals over the last year.

Sky Habitat by Moshe Safdie

"Three bridging sky gardens link the two stepping towers and create a series of interconnected streets, gardens, and terraces in the air, which provide a variety of areas for common recreation and congregation," said Safdie Architects in a statement.

"As a result, the overall mass is porous and open, allowing breezes to flow through and daylight to penetrate deep into the structure."

Sky Habitat by Moshe Safdie

The 12,080-square-metre complex also includes a 50-metre-long swimming pool, alongside smaller leisure pools, a children's play area, barbecue pits, karaoke and event rooms, and a gym.

Boxy balconies protrude at an angle from the face of both blocks, creating a stepped formation that gives each residence access to a private outdoor space with views of the ground-level gardens.

Sky Habitat by Moshe Safdie

The firm claim this feature provides a "more humane and delicate urban fabric" within the high-rise setting.

"Breaking down the scale of typical singular tower residential development, the community-based solution of Sky Habitat is a three-dimensional matrix of homes with private terraces, balconies, and common gardens, bringing landscape into the air and maintaining porosity on the skyline," said the architects.

Sky Habitat by Moshe Safdie

"The complex's strong stepped form recalls the community texture of ancient hillside developments and provides for lush vertical greenery, multiple orientations relative to the sun, naturally ventilated units, and generous views, all without compromising planning or structural efficiency."

A sunken carpark is concealed below the ground-level gardens, swimming pools and tennis courts.

Sky Habitat by Moshe Safdie

In an exclusive movie for Dezeen, Moshe Safdie claimed architects often fail to see tower blocks as a continuation of public space, but rather as independent objects. He said this has lead to disconnection in cities.

"We haven't cracked that issue, we haven't learned how to do that," Safdie told Dezeen.

Sky Habitat by Moshe Safdie

"And we will not solve it so long as architects are focusing on this object idea of a building and not its connectivity, because the connectivity of a building informs its design," he added.

The 77-year-old architect first rose to prominence in his 20s with his experimental Habitat 67 housing development in Montreal. The concrete complex, described by Safdie as a high-rise village, comprises 354 stacked boxes that provide 158 homes and corresponding balconies.

Sky Habitat by Moshe Safdie

The Isareli architect – who has based his firm Safdie Architects in Boston but also has offices in Jerusalem and Toronto – has continued to develop the concept of high-rise urban gardens.

The idea can be seen in the architect's Marina Bay Sands project in Singapore – a trio of towers topped by a vast cantilevering roof garden that the architect said creates "a new kind of public realm".

Photography is by Edward Hendricks.

Project credits:

Design architect: Safdie Architects
Project design: Moshe Safdie
Project principals: Charu Kokate, Jaron Lubin, Greg Reaves
Project team: Howard Bloom, Chris Guignon, Jennifer Hardy, Dan Lee, Damon Sidel, Temple Simpson
Executive architect: DCA Architects Pte Ltd
Landscape architect: Coen + Partners, USA
Executive landscape architect: Coen Design International, Pte Ltd Singapore
Structural engineers: RSP Architects Planners & Engineers Pte Ltd
Mechanical and electrical engineers: Squire Mech Pte Ltd
Client: CapitaLand

Sky Habitat by Moshe Safdie
Site plan – click for larger image
  • Dariusz

    Great work! I just have a question to all pool designers: what’s the point of designing an infinity pool (with edge detail) and then having a massive balustrade in front of it? Surely a few changes in levels could make this truly beautiful. I do understand the various limits, though.

  • Jordan

    I like how the bridges are incorporated into the two buildings. I want to like this building but I just can’t.

  • Chris MacDonald

    The green bridges are cool, but that is where my praise both begins and ends. Everything else is unfathomably ugly.

    • kinetic

      Safdie’s buildings tend to be heavy-handed, not elegant.

  • goodmaab

    Connection of building to landscape and the layering of public to private space. It’s the issue Safdie is aiming at, but cannot fully achieve in this high-rise design.

    Not everyone wants to live in a tower or a box so you need a variety of housing types on this site. Thomas Dolliver Church had it more balanced in Parkmerced in San Francisco with low-rise townhouses and some towers dispersed.

    Infill some modern units and even re-designing the towers would have made Parkmerced even more ideal. The Dutch architects who visit during architecture in the city week noted that for social housing types the Parkmerced layout is what should be strived for in the rebirth of the garden city movement.

  • mehr

    Love the way Singapore has responded to population density!

  • Damian

    Looks like someone having fun with a Lego architecture kit.

    • tony365

      Well he famously used Lego for Habitat 67, so yeah you might be right. I think it is beautiful. Cheers.

  • Durgen Jensen

    Interesting as a diagram but kind of brutal and a little bit stale as a building design.

  • Kay

    It is beautiful. He successfully managed to live up to his own legend and bring his classic back to life in a 21st century context. It could’ve gone horribly wrong but instead it went delightfully well.

  • Nuno Almeida

    So much resource and technology to raise one of the most awful buildings ever.

    • Ayesha Wbm

      Someone is jealous.

  • Mark

    Architects in Singapore love to play with people’s fear of heights.