This project is a specialist high school for the visual and performing arts. The school is located in the heart of Singapore’s Civic district, at the gateway to the Arts and Entertainment district.
The school combines a high-density, inner-city school with a professional performing arts venue. The design strategy for this inner city school creates two visually connected horizontal strata, a space for public communication below, and a space for safe, controlled interaction above.
This strategy solves the twin objectives of porosity and communication with the public and wider arts community on the one hand, and a secure and safe learning environment on the other. The two parts were called the Backdrop and the Blank Canvas.
The Backdrop is the podium that contains a concert hall, drama theatre, black box theatre and several small informal performing spaces. Against this backdrop, the school communicates with the public realm.
The high volume, naturally-ventilated informal spaces in between the performance spaces are designed around an urban short-cut, thereby allowing the public to see the activities of the school.
A civic amphitheatre has been created under conserved trees, and is very popular. Architecturally, the Backdrop is designed as a faceted sculptural space, which frames the surrounding city views in new and interesting ways, The Blank Canvas is the secured school area, and is a simple, flexible space.
The metaphor suggests the open possibilities and focus on the educational content rather than the architectural frame. Three long rectangular blocks have a secured point of access yet are visually connected from all the circulation spaces, to the public areas below.
This environment is simple, practical, bright, airy and is designed for maximum flexibility and sustainability. Classrooms, studios and circulation are all naturally ventilated, with dynamic visual and physical links between blocks.
The green façades are environmental filters, cutting out glare and dust, keeping the rooms cool, and in combination with the acoustic ceilings, absorb traffic noise. The breezeways in-between the blocks are designed for maximum comfort and interaction, providing spaces for different sized groups to interact and relax.
The wind-directing design has proved to be successful and extremely comfortable, with constant cooling breezes even in Singapore’s low wind environment. The rooftop is designed as a large recreation park in the sky.
Location: Zubir Said Drive, Singapore
Project Team: Wong Mun Summ, Richard Hassell, Sim Choon Heok, Chan Ee Mun, Esther Soh, Ian Donlan, Teh Tien Hwa, Alina Yeo, Burapa Prommul, Kwong Lay Lay, Nixon Jose Sicat, Alen Low, Christina Ong, Evi Syariffudin, Germain Goh, Merlinda Song, Muhammad Halim Bin Wahab, Ong Ker Shing, Pamela Choo, Sabrina Foong
Mechanical, Electrical Engineers: Lincolne Scott Ng Pte Ltd
Structural Engineers: WorleyParsons Pte Ltd
Landscape Architect: Cicada Private Limited
Acoustics: Arup Acoustics/Theatreplan LLP
Architectural Lighting: Lighting Planners Associates
Main Contractor: Tiong Aik Construction Pte Ltd
Area: 52,945.54 m2
Cost: S$121 million
Client: Ministry of Information, Communication and the Arts
Photographs: Patrick Bingham-Hall