Exquisite adaptive reuse in Singapore

Monday 15 Dec 2014

SCDA's transformation of a convent school and chapel into Singapore's National Design Centre takes the Adaptive Reuse Award title

After an exciting debate to choose the fantastic shortlist in the WAN Adaptive Reuse Award the judges then had the challenge to select a winner. From an array of different projects with varying briefs, budgets and locations it was a tough decision for all involved. The judging panel for the day comprised of: John Assael, Founder of Assael Architecture; Jonathan McDowell, Partner at McDowell + Benedetti; and Sandy Wright, Co-Founder of Wright & Wright.

With some discussion the jury came down to two extremely solid projects: National Design Centre, Singapore by SCDA Architects and NOAA Inouye Regional Centre, USA by HOK. Two very different projects but exceptional for their integration of adaptive reuse.

John Assael thought the NOAA Inouye Regional Centre was simply amazing, commenting: “It's interiors, it's structure, everything is there for a reason.” On the other hand, Jonathan McDowell was very taken with the National Design Centre, remarking: “They have done this very beautifully.”

After another detailed read through the shortlisted projects the jury were unanimous in their decision to pick the National Design Centre by SCDA Architects as the winner of the 2014 WAN Adaptive Reuse Award. Comprised of multiple interlocking boxes, this convent school and chapel turned Design Centre is a shining example of what can be achieved through sensitive adaptive reuse.

In particular, the former chapel redesigned into a flexible exhibition space-cum-auditorium really captured the attention of all three of the judges. They were not just impressed with the level of detail in this project but how the user really had the feel of what the building once was.

Jonathan McDowell commented: “To be in there you are really aware of the relationship between the old and the new. I think this is at the level of what would inspire me.” Sandy Wright was also on board with this project and reiterated some of Johnathan’s comments by saying: “This one does it for me. I see some very successful bits in this that have transformed this space but kept its history and that’s what I quite like.”

The intervention is minimal and the major sculptural elements are conserved, with only a veil-like folded aluminium mesh screen ceiling installed to frame and enhance the features. John Assael pointed this out mentioning: “It’s great. The old plaster angels and then this. Fabulous.”

So a big congratulations to SCDA for winning the 2014 WAN Adaptive Reuse Award. With so many tremendous projects entered into the WAN Adaptive Reuse Award we would like to say thank you to everyone involved.

Francesca Maw
Senior Awards Co-ordinator 

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