Heatherwick Studio was commissioned to design an apartment building in the historic Newton district of Singapore. Inspired by the vision of a ‘city in a garden’ imagined by Lee Kuan Yew fifty years ago, and by the lush tropical setting of the area, the studio’s design is a radical departure from the glass and steel tower typology. The studio set out to craft homes within a garden that also harnessed all the benefits of apartment living; a place where residents would feel connected to the city’s tree-lined streets whilst enjoying views, light and privacy.
By pulling apart the square block of a conventional residential tower and moving the services to the perimeter, each apartment has a large central living space, surrounded by smaller individual rooms and wide shell-like balconies. The apartments are lifted 27 metres above an intensely planted ground-level tropical garden. The greenery from the garden is threaded upwards and around the building through a series of planted chandeliers which grow as they rise up the building’s dramatic 18 metre high lobby, to become generous private planted outdoor spaces. The balconies are alternated to create double-height outside spaces filled with planting from more than twenty species of flora. As well as surrounding each apartment with tranquil and calming greenery and natural shading from the Singaporean sun, the plants will grow to cascade down the building, softening its appearance.
The building represents a unique way of living in the city, with its combination of evocative natural materials, textures and crafted details and its celebration of the area’s natural landscape. Over time, the building is designed to mature, as the lush planting grows, like a sapling that has taken root beneath the streets, pulling the landscape of Singapore up into the sky.