Integrating communal living and nature within living spaces, this unique creation indeed redefines dense urban living in Singapore.
Words by Isabelle Pinto
Photography by Iwan Baan
The island state of Singapore, although a very tiny one, is well-known throughout the world as a highly advanced and developed city with modern infrastructure and architecture lining its cityscape. Being a very small city, its urban environment is dense with many tall buildings and skyscrapers spanning across its entire land area. Even most of its residential developments are high-rises with apartments, flats and condominiums being some of the most popular forms of housing among Singaporeans. And amidst these conventional and typical forms of high-rises stands the Interlace, a groundbreaking and innovative architectural design by German architect, Ole Scheeren.
Also known as “Vertical Village”, the Interlace is an extensive high-rise residential development comprising 31 apartment blocks, each six-storey tall, which are stacked on top of one another in a unique hexagonal or “beehive” arrangement, creating eight generous courtyards. Completed and handed over to residents in late 2013, the 170,000 msq development provides 1,040 apartment units of varying sizes that are reasonably priced for private housing.
Emphasis on communal living
Deviating from the default typology of housing in dense urban environments – clusters of isolated towers – the Interlace’s unique arrangement of interlocking blocks creates a sense of connectivity between them, reinstating the notion of community as a central issue in today’s society. Besides that, the design also creates a multitude of shared outdoor spaces, further accentuating its theme of communal living.
At the Interlace, community living is also integrated with nature with an abundance of greenery incorporated throughout the development. Extensive roof gardens and landscaped terraces generously line the facades of its apartment blocks, creating quality communal spaces embedded within nature. The multi-level gaps between its blocks also allow natural lighting and air to weave through the landscape of its courtyards, creating a healthy and well-ventilated environment.
Shared amenities available throughout its courtyards include a clubhouse, function and games rooms; theatre, karaoke, gyms, reading rooms, and shaded outdoor play and picnic areas. Water facilities include a 50m lap pool and sun deck, as well as family and children’s pools.
Moreover, residents can also enjoy specific areas within the courtyards which offer more contemplative environments with additional swimming pools, spa gardens, and outdoor dining. Lining the perimeter of the project are also a wide selection of other communal activity areas, for instance, multiple barbeque areas, tennis and multi- courts, an organic garden, and a pet zone. There is also a 1-km jogging track which forms a continuous loop around the site.
Due to its contemporary design which goes against the conventions of urban dense living, the Interlace has managed to earn positive recognition through several awards, the latest of which being the prestigious World Building of the Year Award – considered the Oscars of architecture-at the World Architecture Festival (WAF) 2015. “We’re honoured to win this award in recognition of the social value and sense of community that our design creates,” says Scheeren, on receiving the award. “This project is a prototype for new qualities of dense urban living integrated with nature – it shows at a significant scale that something else other than the status quo is possible.”
WAF Director Paul Finch also commended the project, saying “The Interlace is blazing a trail with an example of bold, contemporary architectural thinking. The project presents an alternative way of thinking about developments which might otherwise become generic tower clusters. It’s a proposition which is fertile”. Winning the top award at the festival, the Interlace beat 16 other category winners from a total of 338 finalist entries after also winning the Completed Housing category.
The Interlace’s groundbreaking contributions to the urban realm and social sustainability has also earned it the global Urban Habitat Award 2014, while sustainability features incorporated throughout its development has also earned it the Universal Design Mark Platinum Award and Green Mark GoldPLUS Award from Singapore’s Building and Construction Authority.