London-based Serie Architects worked with locally based office Multiply Architects to design Oasis Terraces for Singapore’s Housing and Development Board (HDB), which was seeking a new model for community centres to serve its public housing neighbourhoods.
The building is located on the banks of the waterway in the densely populated Punggol area, and comprises communal facilities, restaurants and shops, alongside a government polyclinic.
The structure’s open facades reference the design of the surrounding housing blocks and are intended to lend the building a sense of openness that emphasises its public-serving purpose.
“Our design is informed by the open frames commonly found in the facades and corridors of the HDB housing blocks of the 1970s and 1980s,” said Serie Architects principal, Christopher Lee.
“We’ve transformed this precedent into a light and open frame that captures and accommodates diverse programmes for the community in a landscape setting — it is an architectural framework for communal life to unfold.”
At the heart of the community centre is a series of stepped garden terraces that slope down towards the water and accommodate various communal amenities, including gathering places, playgrounds and a natural amphitheatre.
Rooms and outdoor areas arranged around the gardens are used for purposes such as communal dining, restaurants, education centres and the polyclinic.
Some of the spaces including the restaurant and the clinic’s waiting rooms connect directly with the garden terraces, so diners can choose to sit outside and the clinic’s users can look out onto the greenery and water.
At the front of the building, facing the water, is a large sheltered plaza lined with columns. All circulation routes through the site cross this open-air space, which can be used for a variety of community actives and events.
The building’s elevations and verandahs are covered with planting that creates an environmental filter between the exterior and interior spaces, whilst allowing daylight and breezes to pass through the open structure.
Extensive landscaping on the centre’s roof incorporates planting beds that locals can use for urban farming, which the architects suggested adds a further layer of social value.
“The gardens play more than just an aesthetic role in the community; they are a collective horticultural project,” added Serie Architects. “By bringing residents together to plant, maintain and enjoy them, the gardens help nourish community bonds.”
The two architecture studios previously collaborated on the design of an extension to a law court in Singapore featuring stacked terracotta-clad courtrooms contained in a cage-like structure.
Serie Architects’ previous projects include an arts centre in Dubai comprising clusters of low-lying white aluminium boxes that is intended as an understated contrast to much of the city’s architecture.
Photography is by Hufton + Crow.
Design architect: Serie Architects
Executive architect: Multiply Architects
Civil and structural engineering: KTP Consultants
Mechanical and electrical engineering: Bescon Consulting Engineers
Quantity surveying: Northcroft Lim Consultants
Fire engineering: C2D Solutions
Facade: Aurecon Singapore
Landscape: WNE Integrated Design
Greenmark: Afogreen Build
Acoustic and audiovisual: Alpha Acoustics Engineering
Lighting: Light Cibles
Interior design: Multiply Interiors
Medical planning: DP Healthcare
Project management: SIPM Consultants
Main contractor: Rich Construction Company
Piling contractor: Keat Seng Piling
Instrumentation contractor: Geo Application Engineers
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