Turning vertical into horizontal

Nick Myall
20 Mar 2017

As WAN’s Urban Challenge event in London approaches we take a look at a project from Singapore where green belt restrictions resulted in an imaginative solution to housing pressures

Countries across the globe are grappling with housing issues as supply lags behind demand. London’s own crisis is approaching a critical point with many prospective buyers are being priced out of the market as pressure on the city’s green belt land increases. 

With the aim of tackling the main issues underlying London’s housing crisis a gathering of like-minded visionaries and innovators will assemble in central London on May 23rd.

The World Architecture News Urban Challenge is a global ideas competition and housing symposium. Drawing on 10 years of experience running the largest International architectural awards programme, the main aim of this initiative is to bring together talents from across the world inviting them to put forward ideas and projects that will tackle London's housing crisis.

In the run up to the event WAN will take a look at various innovative schemes that have been adopted across the globe to tackle housing issues.

This week we take a look at The Interlace in Singapore by OMA/Ole Scheeren. 

The project is outside the commercial centre of Singapore in a green belt area that has a 24-storey height limit.

Architect Ole Scheeren explains, “The developer wanted 1,040 units on the 8 hectare (20 acre) site and the conventional way would have been a cluster of twelve towers – a miniature high-rise city with too little space between and no privacy for residents. The solution was to turn vertical into horizontal; stacked bars that would generate a diversity of urban spaces. We wanted togetherness, not isolation; a return to when Singapore was a village of little buildings, tightly knitted together.”

Ole Scheeren was looking at how to approach something with such a high density more on the scale of a vertical village rather than a single building or tower typology.

The project presents an alternative way of thinking about developments which might otherwise become generic tower clusters.

The development, made up of 31 apartment blocks, each six storeys tall, comprises an extensive and integrated network of private and communal spaces. The scheme reinterprets ideas behind contemporary living, with horizontally connected volumes establishing a better connected and less isolated residential environment.

Stacked in a hexagonal arrangement, the units are articulated around eight generously proportioned courtyards forming a unified topography where terraced gardens are positioned across the stepped volumes. Blocks are arranged on four main ‘superlevels’ with three ‘peaks’ of 24 storeys, while multi-storey openings allow light and air to weave into and through the landscape. Imagined as a ‘vertical village’, the 170,000 sq m project provides 1,040 residential units that are both spacious and reasonably priced.

World Architecture News are holding a Housing Symposium on May 23rd in Central London.

Experts will debate the Perfect Storm of conditions on the near horizon, which could provide a unique, once-in-a-lifetime climate for delivering a record number of housing units to the London boroughs. Follow the link to book your place...


The WAN Awards Residential category is now open until 30th June.

Click here for more details or email wanawards@haymarket.com


Nick Myall

News editor

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