Singapore’s high-density urban model presents numerous planning challenges, not the least of which is how one fits the needs of different demographics, particularly the aged, and services together in a limited space. On every metric, the newly minted Kampung Admiralty – designed by leading local studio and Aga Khan-laureate, WOHA – is an elegant parse which has important implications for the world’s increasingly crowded cities.
Spread over an entire city block of about 0.90 ha in the north of the island-state and styled as a vertical kampung (a traditional village in the region), the complex is billed as Singapore’s first integrated public development.
Comprising public housing, senior housing, day-care facilities for everybody, hawker centre and commercial facilities, the project’s centerpiece is the medical centre – a massive cantilevered platform that bisects the space into a shaded, ventilated plaza below, and a lushly landscaped park and urban farm above.
In Singapore’s high density urban landscape, Kampung Admiralty is an example of clever architectural planning. Photography: Darren Soh
As lead architect Wong Mun Summ puts it, this unexpected configuration takes its inspiration from the club sandwich, an approach his firm has been experimenting with for years in the context of high-density/high amenities complexes. ‘It enables us to layer the amenities and programmes vertically, which saves a lot of space,’ he says, referring to the existing model of containing facilities in standalone buildings.
Still, there is never a sense of over-packing. The porous nature of the complex is scrupulous maintained, a feat attributable to WOHA bringing to bear spatial detailing and aesthetics perfected from their numerous hospitality and large-scale residential work to demarcate zones. The landscaping of native trees, fruit trees and curtains of wall vines by Ramboll Studio Dreiseitl is especially effective in providing shade, ambient temperature control and noise shielding from the adjacent public train track.
In realising the four-year project, the greatest challenge, says Wong, involved convincing four government ministries and seven institutions to accept this ‘radical, innovative idea’, an effort that has clearly paid off as the government recently announced plans to replicate the model elsewhere on the island. §