Practicality and invention

Thursday 07 Apr 2011

Local context and tradition intertwined with contemporary forms and ideas

The architecture of WOHA, founded by Wong Mun Summ and Richard Hassell in 1994, is notable for its constant evolution and innovation. A profound awareness of local context and tradition is intertwined with an ongoing exploration of contemporary architectural form-making and ideas, thus creating a unique fusion of practicality and invention. Environmental principles have always been fundamental to the work of the practice.

Their School of the Arts Singapore (completed October 2010) is a specialist school for visual and performing arts. The design strategy creates two visually connected horizontal strata, a space for public communication below (containing several performing spaces) and a space for controlled interaction above (containing naturally ventilated classrooms and studios).

This strategy solves the twin objectives of porosity and communication and a secure learning environment. The Met, Bangkok (completed December 2009) investigates the opportunities for high-rise living in the tropics. Rather than adopting models developed in temperate countries, with a strong separation of interior and exterior, this project explores how aspects of low-rise tropical housing can be applied to create outdoor-indoor spaces in the sky.

Bras Basah MRT Station (completed April 2010) resolves two conflicting requirements with a single strategy - a visual connection to the exterior, while the historic district and park location required a station that disappeared into the landscape. The solution was a water-covered glass roof that doubles up as a skylight and landscape element. The water film circulates over the glass, carrying away and releasing heat in evaporative cooling as it tumbles over waterfall walls.

Alila Villas Uluwatu, Bali (opened June 2009) is an ecologically sustainable hotel and villa development investigating the potential of the fusion of vernacular architecture with modernist design. The design combines the delights of traditional Balinese pavilion architecture and rural landscapes with modern dynamic treatment of space and form.

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