EDEN Singapore Apartments by Heatherwick Studio

EDEN, Singapore
Fifty years ago, Singapore was imagined as a ‘city in a garden’. When Heatherwick Studio was commissioned to design an apartment building in the historic Newton district, they were inspired by this vision, and by the lush tropical setting of the area’s nineteenth-century houses. They wanted to move away from the enclosed steel and glass towers of recent decades and instead, create a more natural ‘home in a garden’ – a place where residents could feel connected to the city’s tree-lined streets, yet enjoy the views, light and privacy that come with living high above them. From the ground, they wanted it to appear as if these green streets were rising up into the sky.

A ‘home in a garden’
EDEN contains twenty apartments, with just one per floor. When stacked on top of each other, the apartments are quickly lifted out of reach of a ground-level garden, so the design team examined how to raise this greenery and thread it upwards through the building. By pulling apart the square block of a conventional residential tower and moving services to the perimeter, they were able to create a large central living space on each floor, surrounded by smaller individual rooms and wide shell-like balconies. These balconies are alternated to create a series of double-height spaces, which are filled with tropical planting, drawn from more than twenty species of flora. As well as surrounding each apartment with greenery, the plants will grow to cascade down the building, softening its appearance.

Material and texture
Looking beyond the luxury glass towers found in cities across the world, the design team saw the potential of concrete to create something unique, which could enclose more private spaces and reflect a sense of place. Concrete also contributes to the building’s environmental strategy, as its mass blocks warm air to aid natural cooling. Instead of casting a flat concrete facade, Heatherwick

Studio wanted to bring the material to life and give it tactility and a texture that couldn’t be seen anywhere else in the world.
The studio took the natural contours of Singapore’s terrain and abstracted it to create a new topographical texture, then worked with fabricators to produce one-off moulds for each concrete panel. Embossed with an outline of the building and its immediate surroundings, these panels reveal and make a virtue of their location, giving the material greater physical and conceptual interest. The colour of the building also plays a role in differentiating EDEN. To find the ideal tone that would appear natural and complement the concrete, more than a hundred deep red, purple and brown shades were tested under the Singaporean sun.
The exposed underside of the balconies and the handrails are also rendered in smooth, highly polished concrete. Here, Heatherwick 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.

 

 

Interiors
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. This space is made possible by raising the first apartment 27 metres above street level, ensuring that every residence benefits from elevated views. Throughout the building, every interior detail has been crafted to express a sense of warmth. The natural imperfections of the organic materials have been celebrated; for example, the imprints in the 180 million-year-old Jura limestone are revealed, saw marks are left visible in the handmade parquet, and the balcony floor is laid with a textured herringbone-patterned slate. This idea flows through to the solid exposed timber of the oak kitchen cabinets, and the walnut entranceway, which mimics the topographical texture of the exterior concrete panels. In the bathrooms, the sink, vanity unit and bath were also custom-designed for the project by the studio, and utilise a similarly restrained yet rich palette of materials.
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. This space is made possible by raising the first apartment 27 metres above street level, ensuring that every residence benefits from elevated views.
Throughout the building, every interior detail has been crafted to express a sense of warmth. The natural imperfections of the organic materials have been celebrated; for example, the imprints in the 180 million-year-old Jura limestone are revealed, saw marks are left visible in the handmade parquet, and the balcony floor is laid with a textured herringbone-patterned slate. This idea flows through to the solid exposed timber of the oak kitchen cabinets, and the walnut entranceway, which mimics the topographical texture of the exterior concrete panels. In the bathrooms, the sink, vanity unit and bath were also custom-designed for the project by the studio, and utilise a similarly restrained yet rich palette of materials.

 

EDEN represents a unique way of living in the city, with its combination of evocative material textures and crafted details, and Heatherwick Studio’s celebration of the area’s natural landscape. Over time, the building is designed to mature, becoming overrun by its lush planting – like a sapling that has taken root beneath the streets, pulling the landscape of Singapore up into the sky.

Sustainability
The building incorporates a number of features, both active and passive, to conserve energy and promote naturally cool, comfortable spaces. These include deep cantilevered balconies which provide solar shading whilst also maximising the benefits of natural light coming into the apartments through full height bi-folding doors. Windows in the living space open on three sides to allow natural cross-ventilation. The glazing is set back to reduce solar gain. As a vertical series of gardens, the building is also symbolic of how Singapore has led the way in embracing the conservation of the natural world in the city.

Amenities
The residents’ facilities at ground level share the same language of mineral textures and lush planting: 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. Where the building emerges from the ground, the walls do not touch the street, but continue down through the basement levels – the edges of the ground plane are detailed in bronze, and the gap provides a light well for the parking below.

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