Singapore’s Utopian Vision of 21st Century Air Conditioning Nears Completion
Ken Yeang has worked for 30 years in many of his projects to realize his vision of the eco skyscraper, in which the natural world is much more comprehensively interwoven into the structure of large commercial buildings than now. His latest, to be completed this year is the culmination of that vision, and it’s in an equally ambitious and Utopian setting.
The site, Fusionopolis, is an entirely self-contained township that makes it possible to live and work within walking distance in a natural green setting. The master-planned site encompasses both intensive office park development and high-rise living in an ecologically sensitive zero carbon footprint design. Yeang’s philosophy? â€œIâ€™m not pro skyscrapers, but if we have to have them, then letâ€™s make them green. If we shy away from them, then other people will continue to build them as they are at presentâ€.
It combines the best of the low carbon footprint lifestyle of living in an 11th century village, yet makes possible the 21st-century urban live-work two-career lifestyle of the future. And it is in that setting that the 15 story Solaris building at Fusionopolis 2B in Singapore, will house an array of of creative media and online businesses.
The refreshingly looped white louvers over the windows moderate the tropical temperature of Singapore, while maintaining both a futuristic and yet nature-based organic look, almost like layers of calcium on shells.
The most extraordinary element is the astonishing 90,000 square feet of vegetation that winds up in a continuous 10 foot wide spiral for a mile, from the ground to the roof. This creates a mile-long micro-ecosystem – much more so than if each floor had its own separate green roof. It makes it possible for all of the components of the local eco system at ground level to climb what is virtually an artificial hillside of vegetation to cool the interior.
The sheer scale of this use of “nature’s utilities” for cooling and air conditioning is the most ambitious of its green building elements.
For its human inhabitants, trying to work in a tropical climate while not adding too much to the world’s carbon footprint, the building will save up to $700,000 a year in both water and energy costs, because the spiral of vegetation outside will absorb heat that would otherwise go into the building.
The ecosystem created is integral to the structure, and provides a series of semi-public, landscaped spaces for the buildingâ€™s tenants, making their office environment both healthier and more connected to the natural world.
It is separated from the structure’s less organic systems. A waterproof masonry bed isolates it safely from the rest of the structureâ€™s less organic systems.Â The ramp will be supplied with water from the buildingâ€™s rainwater collection for irrigation.
At 90,000 square feet, the green spiralled hillside next to the skyscraper actually comprises more square footage than is displaced by the building itself (75,000). As such, in terms of displaced environmental footprint, it is a net-below-zero building!