While I while away time on my self-inflicted sabbatical there have been advices from several quarters, one special one coming from my co-pilot as I steered the Microlight over the cool climes of Jakkur and Hebbal, prodding me to get back to work, in his words, “do not rust, whatever you may”, I very reluctantly after more than a month of receiving that advice, opened my favourite site for architecture dope, archdaily.com and trundle upon the news of the World Architecture Festival held in Amsterdam. They have crowned the World Building of the Year and I was so happy to note that WOHA’s Kampung Admiralty Project in Singapore wearing the crown. For starters the WAF is my personal favourite Architecture Awards and then WOHA are my favourite architects from the island city not only because their work is spectacular and my kind but also because Wong Mun Summ and Richard Hassell taught us at the National University of Singapore. Having attended the WAF Awards in 2012 and 2013, I really enjoyed the format of presentations, the open and diverse diaspora, architects, mind you both star and humbler ones share the stage along with critics and thinkers alike to have a meaningful discussion on design, specifically architectural design.
Now Kampung Admiralty from what I gather is a typical WOHA project, just that their evolving style may have yet reached its high-point with this building. From the horse’s mouth, as the architects claim it is a vertical kampung (village), layered like a club-sandwich with community spaces tucked in the podium along with a medical centre above which rest the apartments for the elderly. With a large ageing populace the island country has been innovating on homes for the elderly for a while now, but the concept of this kampung is winning as it ties community, nature and a host of other factors that make the village more village like! A small enough, close-knit unit. Inter-generational bonding and active ageing as the architects put it. The plan is simple enough, the elevation practically a foliage but whats eye-catching in the concept is the spirit or rather the essence. With increased sustainability ideals in every architect’s mind, greenery incorporated into the building is now a common factor. Terraced structures with ample maintainable greens have come a long way since the days of Ken Yeang’s often teased “hairy buildings”. Today greenery is a luxury, “every window with a green view” is a phrase that makes its way to every realty brochure.
Green’s the way to go, not just highly maintained green, but mostly laissez faire greens. Its a vision to the eyes, a welcome break to the lungs and a favour to smaller specie of flora and fauna for sure. I’d bet its a much welcome to combat global warming, air-pollution, health disorders and such, much more welcome than inventing products in factories to do just the same. Sustainability could be truly sustainable, a better way would certainly be to embrace greenery and open up our spaces, living or working to nature.