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The Interlace

Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA), Buro Ole Scheeren

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  • RSP Architects, Planners & Engineers
  • Structural Engineer: ARUP

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170,000 sq. meters
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Project Description

The Interlace, a vertical village in Singapore, has been crowned World Building of the Year 2015 at the World Architecture Festival. The residential development, designed by OMA/Buro Ole Scheeren, is a radically new approach to contemporary living in a tropical environment.

The Interlace is one of the most ambitious residential developments in Singapore's history, generating an intricate network of living and social spaces intertwined with the natural environment. Instead of following the default typology of housing in the region – clusters of isolated towers - the vertical is turned horizontal, with 31 apartment blocks, each six stories tall and 70 meters long. Stacked in hexagonal arrangements around eight large-scale open permeable courtyards, the scheme creates a network of internal and external environments that create a multitude of shared and private outdoor spaces on multiple levels.
World Architecture Festival Director Paul Finch praised the project, saying ‘The Interlace is blazing a trail with an example of bold, contemporary architectural thinking. The project presents an alternative way of thinking about developments which might otherwise become generic tower clusters’.
The Interlace is now the eighth project to claim the illustrious title of World Building of the Year, since its inception at the annual World Architecture Festival in 2008. The home project win marks the culmination of the Festival’s four-year run in Singapore, before it moves to Berlin in 2016.
Ole Scheeren’s design generates an extensive network of private and shared social spaces in a radical reinterpretation of contemporary life in a community. Instead of following the default typology of housing in dense urban environments – clusters of isolated towers – the design turns vertical isolation into horizontal connectivity and reinstates the notion of community as a central issue in today’s society.

31 apartment blocks, each six stories tall, are stacked in a hexagonal arrangement around eight generous courtyards. The interlocking blocks create a multitude of shared outdoor spaces, forming a dramatic topography of inhabitable terraced gardens across the stepped volumes. Partly resting, partly floating, the blocks hover on top of each other to form an expressive “interlaced” space that connects the individual apartments with an accessible and inclusive community life.

The design generates a multiplicity of qualities and choices for its inhabitants and gives a sense of multi-layered richness and freedom of possibilities for living.

The 170,000m2 development, which was completed and handed over to residents in late 2013, provides 1,040 generous residential units of varying sizes that are reasonably priced. The unusual geometry of the hexagonally stacked building blocks creates a dramatic spatial structure populated by a diverse array of activity areas.

The blocks are arranged on four main ‘Superlevels” with three ‘peaks’ of 24 stories. Other Superlevel stacks range from 6-18 stories to form a stepped geometry, resembling the dramatic topography of a landscape more than a typical building. Multi-story openings allow light and air to weave into and through the landscape of the courtyards.

Eight expansive courtyards and their individual landscapes are defined as the heart of the project and form distinct spatial identities. Each courtyard, spanning a distance of 60m across and extending further through the permeable interconnections, possesses a specific character and atmosphere that serves as a place-maker and spatial identifier.

The primary pedestrian route through the project leads residents from the main entrance through and to the courtyards as primary points of orientation and identification – you live in a courtyard, a space, rather than a building or an object. Pedestrian circulation is grouped and bundled according to the density of residents around each courtyard in a central ‘connector’. A system of secondary footpaths brings residents from the connector to the private front doors of their homes.

The Interlace generates a space of collective experience within the city and reunites the desire for individual privacy with a sense of togetherness and living in a community. Social interaction is integrated with the natural environment in a synthesis of tropical nature and habitable urban space.

The notion of community life within a contemporary village is emphasized throughout the project by an extensive network of communal gardens and spaces. A variety of public amenities are interwoven into the landscape, offering numerous opportunities for social interaction and shared activities integrated with the natural environment.

A Central Square, Theatre Plaza, and Water Park occupy the more public and central courtyards and contain numerous shared amenity areas such as a clubhouse, function and games rooms; theatre, karaoke, gyms, and reading rooms; and a 50m lap pool and sun deck, family and children’s pools. Surrounding courtyards such as The Hills and Bamboo Garden provide shaded outdoor play and picnic areas with lower blocks around its perimeter. The Waterfall, Lotus Pond, and Rainforest Spa complete the eight main courtyards and offer residents further choices and areas in a more contemplative environment with additional swimming pools, spa gardens, and outdoor dining.

Multiple barbeque areas, tennis and multi-courts, organic garden, pet zone, and ‘the rock’ line the perimeter of the project and offer a wide selection of communal activities for residents. A continuous loop around the site provides a 1km running track and connects the ‘internal’ courtyards to the activities around the edge of the site.

The character of a vertical village embedded in a rich landscape of activities and nature is evident throughout the project. Elevated roof terraces and sky gardens extend outdoor space on multiple levels with views above the tree line to the surrounding courtyards, parks, sea, and city. The diversity of the various offerings and atmospheres of natural environment encourage social interaction with the freedom of choice for different gradients of privacy and sharing, contributing to the overall sense of community.

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