Vertical gardens bring nature closer to residents and encourage social interactions

Like how a skin protects the body, The Tembusu functions as a living host which shelters its inhabitants from the environment.

ARC Studio’s high-rise, high-density housing of 337 homes is enlivened by the “living façade” which involved threads of nature around the columns interweaving with the architecture to create an organic exterior bringing the landscape closer to the residential units. It also creates an impression that the landscape drapes over two sky links, creating an even more intimate experience with nature.

“…The idea that though you live high up in the sky, you actually have a feeling close to the ground and you are surrounded by nature and greenery,” says ARC Studio’s founder and architect Khoo Beng Peng in an interview.

“…The idea that though you live high up in the sky, you actually have a feeling close to the ground and you are surrounded by nature and greenery.”

The Tembusu expresses these ideas of human-scale with its “thick skin”. Unlike a tropical high-rise which is typically enclosed by a glass wall, the Tembusu embraces the outdoors in with its “living façade” and hosts public spaces, thereby creating a new tropical identity.

About President*s Design Award Singapore

The President*s Design Award (P*DA) is Singapore’s highest honour for designers and designs across all disciplines. It recognises the achievements of an extraordinary group of people making a difference to the lives of Singaporeans and the global community through excellent design.

In 2017, P*DA was re-launched as a biennial award with a greater emphasis on the impact of design in enabling economic transformation; raising the quality of life; advancing Singapore brand, culture and connecting communities; and making ground-breaking achievements in the field of design.

Established in 2006, P*DA is presented in two categories – Designer of the Year and Design of the Year. It is conferred by the President of the Republic of Singapore and is jointly administered by the DesignSingapore Council (Dsg) and the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA).

The Kampung life in the city

The vertical green elements throughout the levels help to soften the overall façade of the building, while also acting as buffer zones to blur out the public and private boundaries.

Founder and architect Belinda Huang adds, “What we hope to do in the Tembusu is to re-create that kind of village feeling to think of the many ways we can actually encourage community interaction.”

The intimate spaces are achieved by the adoption of slender structural elements holding the elevated pathways and the creation of transitional zones, which provide shade and shelter at different levels of the project.

The public circulation is extended to the elevated landscaped pathways and wrapped around the units to create a community experience. Link bridges provide for the continuity of communal spaces, and yet the articulation of the spaces does not compromise the privacy of the dwelling units.

Passive features that are integrated into the landscape provide comfort for the occupants and contribute to sustainable living. Its architecture allows capture and retention of rain water which adds streams to the lush landscape.

“As the city grows, people and communities look for identity. Architecture has the power to give that presence and unique identity,” say Khoo and Huang paying further homage to the natural splendor that makes The Tembusu a special place.


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