Living Factories 2: The Arcadian Campus

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Calvin Chua, London/Singapore, Spatial Anatomy (

Site: Kent Ridge, Singapore
Size: 200 hectares

Design Brief

Living Factories is a design studio focusing on rethinking forms of architecture that enable new paradigms of working and living to take place through the adaptation of existing urban infrastructural spaces. For the second year of research, the studio is interested in rethinking the suburban low-density campus model as an environment for knowledge production. In particular, we will be focusing on the potential revitalization of the Singapore Science Park (SSP) and its wider context.

Similar to other global examples of low-rise, landscaped campus environments as the ideal setting for research and scholarship, the SSP was one of the first attempts by the Singapore government in creating an environment to stimulate R&D culture. Tapping on the proximity to existing university research facilities and influenced by prevailing global trends in suburban research campus design, the SSP – comprised of various stand-alone research buildings – was sited within the suburban environment of Kent Ridge.

However, with an increased emphasis on urban life as an important quality in fostering knowledge exchange within today’s context, newer research campuses are situated in denser and more compact urban environment. Responding to the next wave of economic development that is dependent on research and innovation, one-north, unlike SSP, was planned as a compact urban environment to facilitate the cross-fertilization of ideas between researchers and entrepreneurs. Such a paradigmatic shift in the way knowledge is exchanged reveals the importance of rethinking the existing SSP suburban environment. Therefore, this studio aims to formulate a series of urban-architectural interventions that could transform SSP into a new generation of knowledge campus and a catalyst for urban transformation of the wider Kent Ridge region.

Given the existing isolation of SSP1 and SSP2 and the varied topographical and environmental contexts of Kent Ridge, a similar strategy of land-use intensification to one-north would not be optimal. Instead of injecting urban qualities through density, this studio will focus on developing a series of intensity nodes within the larger context of SSP – a 200 hectare area that borders the boundaries of NUS, Haw Par Villa, Ayer Rajah Expressway and Normanton Park. Through the semester, students will collectively formulate an urban design framework, stitching together SSP1 and SSP2 through strategic individual architectural interventions that will sensitively adapt and transform the suburban SSP campus.

Working with Ascendas, the studio will respond to existing development plans and visions for the site, which include incremental land intensification from a plot ratio of 1.0 to 2.1 over time, creating a car-light, pedestrian-oriented environment, working with varying duration of building leases and defining programs which complement the existing business park model.

Sustainability Statement

This studio will address issues of sustainability in two ways. Firstly, we will consider the life-cycle of our proposals and the relationship it has with the existing natural environmental context of Kent Ridge. Secondly, going beyond functional performance as a design prerequisite, we will address the larger socio-economic effects of coexisting together and managing environmental systems through our proposals. Issues that will be addressed in our design intervention include: spatial ownership, resource sharing, economy and means of construction, and the relationship between the private and the common.