Singapore food, architecture and design, and a little from other countries across the world

World-Class Forms that Breathe

World-Class Forms that Breathe

Singapore, Architecture –

DP ARCHITECTS’ footprint in its award-winning designs is the passionate engagement of humanity and the human spirit

CREATING A HUMANISTIC environment in any part of the world that is visually appealing and spiritually uplifting requires a deep understanding of a whole range of dynamics. DP Architects composes these dynamics beautifully to hold dialogue with each other – light with texture, space with volume, urban with natural landscape, architectural form with organic form. The numerous awards achieved every year is testament to DP Architects’ success, not only for their outstanding projects worldwide but also for their company’s work ethic of enriching the human spirit.

CEO Angelene Chan garners many of her own awards, recently winning the 2018 President’s Design Awards Designer of the Year (Architecture), presented by Singapore’s President Halimah Yacob.

Award-Winning projects by DP Architects:

What separates a world-class project from the ordinary?

RMZ ECOWORLD IT PARK

BENGALURU, INDIA

Creating a world-class humane environment in such a large tropical urban fabric commanded a deep understanding of terrain, topography, climate, infrastructure, visibility, walkability and accessibility to achieve sustainability and resourcefulness
Walkway
Circulating vehicles around the periphery with parking tucked underneath the project footprint, creates greater walkability, and richly landscaped central areas and water features

Nestling in the Silicon Valley of India, RMZ Ecoworld IT Park brings together commercial, civic and amenity spaces within a sizeable scale that spans 650,000sqm. The project required an infrastructural design that sensitively considers the spatial experience and human comfort. Creating a world-class humane environment in such a large tropical urban fabric commanded a deep understanding of terrain, topography, climate, infrastructure, visibility, walkability and accessibility to achieve sustainability and resourcefulness. Key to the architecture schematics was to create buildings in proportion to its human scale. This was achieved by ‘breaking up’ the massing into smaller surfaces and volumes.

Building orientation and strategically placed openings channel in natural breezes from nearby open areas such as Saul Kere Lake and Devarabisana Halli Lake, thus eliminating the need for air-conditioning in certain areas, while innovative placement of glass and stone panels significantly reduces heat gain. Circulating vehicles around the periphery with parking tucked underneath the project footprint, creates greater walkability, and richly landscaped central areas and water features. These engaging public spaces at multiple levels from ground and mid-level terraces to roof terrace are ideal not only for leisure and relaxation, but also for work meetings and brainstorming sessions. ‘The Bay’, which lends an element of sophistication with its convergence of social amenities such as F&B outlets and an amphitheatre, is considered the heart of the development. Its art gallery, a rare amenity in this part of Bengaluru, is conceived as the soul of the development – an unexpected delight and a confirmation of the engagement of humanity in the world of IT.

AWARDS

Third Award – Global Architecture and Design Awards (GADA) 2018

NOVOTEL AND MERCURE SINGAPORE ON STEVENS

SINGAPORE

Seen from above the Novotel and Mercure Singapore on Stevens hotel building takes on the form of the Chinese character ‘ren’ 人 , meaning people

Good architecture tells a story. DP Architects’ story of Novotel and Mercure Singapore on Stevens takes the shape and proportions of a high-end urban hospitality project that places people at the heart, as well as within the context of the surrounding skyline and Singapore’s green nature. The glass tower housing the two hotels, floats above while the distinctive sweeping wings accommodating the guest rooms take their form from the Chinese character 人 (‘ren’, meaning people). The parallels between architectural form, human form and nature’s form can be seen in the organic volumes and flowing movement of the development.

The overall design and planning created a green respite at the fringe of the city not only for the hotel guests but also for the neighbouring residences

Angelene Chan, CEO of DP Architects, and 2018 President’s Design Awards Designer of the Year (Architecture):

I find the creative process inspiring, every project that I work on stimulates me to come up with the best design solutions. For the Novotel Singapore and Mercure Singapore at Stevens Road, our vision was to create an integrated and cohesive development to add both commercial and civic value to the urban fabric along Stevens Road. We designed a series of organic glass pods that provide intimate retail and dining experience, and adopted a green-wall approach with respect to the residential district the project is situated in. *

The grand drop-off to the south
Walkways and volumes curve to create flowing, organic movement between the wings of the hotel

The form inscribes the triangular site into three distinctive public places: a grand drop-off to the south that inspires the hotel arrival sequence, a more secluded hotel pool and courtyard space to the east, and a functional sports zone to the west. Each wing of guestrooms receives an optimal distance from the remaining wings, generous aspects and an efficient circulation core at its fulcrum. The design concept takes the form of a series of organic glass pods which spill out from under the hotel tower, like pebbles sprinkled over a lawn, and engage with the surrounding urban context. Creeper plants form a floral crown to these pods, complementing the meadowed groundscape.

AWARDS

Gold – (Architecture, Mixed Use, Constructed Category) Melbourne Design Awards 2018

Gold – (Architecture, Mixed Use, International Category) – London Design Awards 2018

Silver (Architecture, Mixed Use, International Category) – New York Design Awards 2018

Best Hotel Architecture Design (Asia) – PropertyGuru Asia Property Awards 2017

A chat with ANGELENE CHAN, CEO of DP Architects

In the future, the effects of environmental deterioration will be more keenly felt than now. When we face the depletion of resources like clean air and water, rising sea level and temperatures, the design principles that we employ now will no longer apply. The criteria for comfort will be different. Architects will have to think like ecologists and environmentalists.

DP Architects is one of the most successful companies in the world with a footprint in many countries. What is the unifying philosophy for business and creativity that connects each of these companies?

Angelene Chan: DP Architects was founded two years after Singapore’s independence on a need to create architecture of excellence that enrich the human experience and uplift the human spirit. Our founders believe in the power of architecture to help foster a national identity. We have since evolved in tandem with the country’s nation building and have worked on some of the country’ most important public projects and notable building. The practice is still guided by this philosophy today.

Team work and collaboration is the cornerstone of our practice. We believe in the collective over the individual, that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. This belief has helped us become the largest practice in Singapore, and among the largest in the world. The practice of architecture is a collaborative process; so, it is important to work as a team towards a common vision. This applies to our people and also our partners. Cross-disciplinary collaboration is very much part of the built environment industry, and working with other disciplines is an essential part of the practice of architecture.

What Singapore vernacular architecture do you have a soft spot for?

Angelene Chan: I see architecture as a visual narrative of a city and its identity, so they are all special because they express different traditions, social and cultural values and influences of different periods. They add charm and character to our city. Vernacular architecture tells us a lot about the changing constitution of a society.

I like the colonial-era black and white bungalows for their high ceilings, large windows, pitched roofs and verandahs, and how well adapted they are for the tropical climate. Active building technologies are becoming more sophisticated, but passive design, excellently integrated in these bungalows, is still the key to sustainable architecture. You can learn a lot about sustainability solutions through vernacular architecture.

How do you add a bit of ‘Singapore’ to the architecture you create worldwide – for example The Dubai Mall, the world’s largest mall?

Angelene Chan: What we, and most Singaporean firms, bring to their overseas work is not a specific style, but the qualities associated with Singapore – our culture of honour, quality of design and service, appreciation of cultural diversity and efficient delivery.

Having said that, a distinct feature of Singapore architecture is its approach to planning. In the short span of 50 years, Singapore has leap-frogged from a city with a drastic shortage of housing and infrastructure to a thriving metropolis and one of the most desirable places to live on the planet. It is impossible to talk about Singaporean architecture without first recognising this. Stringent planning and a problem-and-solution approach determined Singapore architecture in its formative years. Contemporary Singapore architecture is a product of the wholehearted embrace with modernity and urban planning.

In the case of The Dubai Mall, the first thing that we focused on was circulation planning and wayfinding. If one gets lost in a mall of that scale, it would take some time to re-orientate, and the visitor is unlikely to want to return. The Mall is now the world’s most visited leisure and shopping destination, and we attribute this to the successful planning.

What materials do you love to work with in terms of architectural design? Are you an advocate of eco and sustainable design?

Angelene Chan: I love natural materials like wood, stone and bamboo. Choosing materials is an enjoyable part of the job, but what materials I work with depends on the design, function, climatic condition, and client’s budget.

With heightening awareness of the array of environmental issues that are threatening the quality of life, the responsibility of the architect as a custodian of the built environment has become more evident and critical. DP grew our in-house environmentally sustainable design unit to a full-fledged specialist firm, DP Sustainable Design, which comprises architects, engineers and environmental simulation experts. Our green design supported by an evidence base of intelligent simulations and empirical data.

In the future, the effects of environmental deterioration will be more keenly felt than now. When we face the depletion of resources like clean air and water, rising sea level and temperatures, the design principles that we employ now will no longer apply. The criteria for comfort will be different. Architects will have to think like ecologists and environmentalists.

How do you sketch your ideas?

Angelene Chan: I sketch on mylar paper roll. When I need to sketch something on the go, I will do it on iPad and email to my team. I carry a small notebook everywhere with me to jot down ideas, things to do, talking points for my presentations, and so forth.

You’re not only a successful architect and CEO of one of the biggest companies in the world but also a mother. What are the most important character elements do you instil in your children?

Angelene Chan: I instill in my children the values of honesty and hard work, and faith in God. I also teach them to be polite, down to earth and to care for others.

What Singapore food do you crave for after a hard day at work?

Looking forward to Johor Laksa for Chinese New Year

Angelene Chan:I don’t usually crave for a particular food. But I try to have dinner at home with my family every evening unless I have dinner engagements that I cannot miss. Sharing a meal with my family helps me to decompress after a day of meetings, emails, calls, design charettes and reviews.

I do look forward to certain food on specific occasions, like Johor Laksa during Chinese New Year; and the same food I always have at the restaurants I frequent, like the spaghetti vongole at a restaurant in Changi.

What advice would you give a young student who wants to be an award-winning architect like you?

Angelene Chan: You have to love architecture. If you have the passion, you will have the tenacity to endure the long training process and the arduous profession. Read constantly and travel often to open your eyes, to be inspired. Dream big and work hard. Have courage to pursue your ideas. Be curious always. Be ready to embrace change.

*The quote from Angelene Chan was adapted from National Design Centre interview: https://www.designsingapore.org/modules/design-news/in-conversation-with-angelene-chan-ceo-of-dp-architects

Story by Carol Kraal. Photographs courtesy of DP Architects Pte Ltd: RMZ Ecoworld IT Park photographs by Harshan Thomson; Novotel and Mercure on Stevens photograph 1 by Evan Lim; Angelene Chan photograph by Juliana Tan