A Garden within an Apartment Complex
Inspired by the vision of a ‘City within a garden’ Heatherwick Studio designs Eden in Singapore, an apartment tower that seems to rise from a tropical garden, branching out into individual floors with wide shell-like balconies, almost resembling a tree in bloom.
Heatherwick Studio, founded by Thomas Heatherwick, a British designer whose prolific and varied work over two decades is characterized by its ingenuity, inventiveness and originality, was commissioned by Swire Properties to design an apartment building in the historic Newton district of Singapore.
Inspired by the vision of a ‘city in a garden’ imagined by Lee Kuan Yew 50 years ago, and by the lush tropical setting of the area, the studio’s design is a radical departure from the glass and steel tower typology.
“We have crafted homes within a garden that harnessed all the benefits of apartment living; a place where residents would feel connected to the city’s tree-lined streets whilst enjoying views, light and privacy. By pulling apart the square block of a conventional residential tower and moving the services to the perimeter, each apartment has a large central living space, surrounded by smaller individual rooms and wide shell-like balconies. The apartments are lifted 23 metres above an intensely planted ground-level tropical garden,” explains Thomas Heatherwick, founder of the studio.
The greenery from the garden is threaded upwards and around the building through a series of planted chandeliers which grow as they rise up the building’s dramatic 18-metre-high lobby, to become generous private planted outdoor spaces. The balconies are alternated to create double-height outside spaces filled with planting from more than twenty species of flora. As well as surrounding each apartment with tranquil and calming greenery and natural shading from the Singaporean sun, the plants will grow to cascade down the building, softening its appearance.
The unconventional concrete walls are moulded with a topographical map of Singapore’s terrain, which has been abstracted to create a unique three-dimensional texture.The building represents a unique way of living in the city, with its combination of evocative natural materials, textures and crafted details and its celebration of the area’s natural landscape. Over time, the building is designed to mature, as the lush planting grows, like a sapling that has taken root beneath the streets, pulling the landscape of Singapore up into the sky. The lowest floor is raised 23 metres above street level so that every apartment benefit from views across the city skyline. Interior surfaces have been crafted to give the living spaces warmth by celebrating the natural imperfections of organic materials; natural knot marks are left visible in the handmade parquet flooring which continues outdoors with a textured herringbone-patterned slate.
At ground-level, entrance is through a canyon-like corridor, 1.5 metres wide and more than ten times as high, lined with black granite. This opens into a dramatic 18-metre-high lobby at the heart of the building, hung with living plant chandeliers. The exposed underside of the balconies is rendered in smooth, highly polished concrete.
“The studio developed a bespoke casting technique to bring the ideal mixture and concentration of stones to the surface at these points, giving a rugged, industrial material a precious, gem-like quality,” says the team from the studio.
This is a complex with high-end luxurious amenities and nothing is spared to bring in utmost comfort to its inhabitants. A beautifully crafted lift takes residents to their private floor. At the heart of every apartment, there is a large light central space, sheltered by the concrete structure and wrapped in the greenery of the lush tropical balcony, with views of the city beyond – this is conceived as a place for togetherness. More private rooms and discreet service areas extend from this main living space in an intuitive, flexible arrangement.
At ground level the language of mineral textures and lush tropical planting is continued: the swimming pool is clad in deep green ceramic tiles to give the impression of a natural lake, the paths, social spaces and hard landscaping are paved in different shades of green granite, and the fitness centre is in a garden pavilion. Specially commissioned Spun chairs made from polished green granite are set within the natural shade provided by the landscaped garden at ground level.
Project Name: EDEN
Completion date: December 2019
Site Area: 33,425 sq ft
Gross Floor Area: 70,193 sq ft
Car Park Spaces: 41
Designed by Heatherwick Studio
Client: Swire Properties Ltd/Celestial Fortune
Interiors: Heatherwick Studio
Local Interiors: Ensemble
Local Architect: RSP Architects, Planners & Engineers
Landscape Designer: COEN Design International
Main Contractor: Unison
Mechanical & Electrical Engineers: Squire Mec
Civil & Structural Engineers: RSP Structures
Green Mark Award for Building – Platinum Rating