Micro-Towers: Big Ideas on Tiny Footprints

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Studio Instructor(s)

Michael Budig

Program: Production and Technology

Scale: Varied

Site: River Valley Road, Singapore

The studio focuses on wood as a material and on the design of micro-towers. It investigated in alternative construction methods, inspired by the idea of re-inventing wood construction and revitalising a dormant industry sector that has disappeared from urban construction. Wood, composite materials and hybrid construction systems were explored to envision new concepts of vertical construction. Our aim was to unlock the enormous potential of wood for future applications by recording a material and craft with a long history (wood is one of the oldest materials in use for building), re-conceptualising it and projecting our recordings into entirely new concepts. The concepts go beyond using wood as conventional straight and planar elements by exploring bending, peeling of layers, fractal formations, and form-active behaviour.

Many of the fastest growing cities including Singapore have expanded with massive consumption of concrete, steel and other non-renewable materials. However, society is increasingly challenged by a scarcity of material resources. Recently, wood has resurfaced as an attractive alternative with the invention of new manufacturing and construction methods. It offers manifold potentials if applied wisely – wood is a renewable material and can have a significantly lower impact on the environment than most of the materials currently in use.

Big ideas on tiny footprints: the studio developed a series of small towers on a site along River Valley Road in Singapore. This site offers a unique situation with narrow plots adjacent to the backsides of traditional shophouses and the possibility of building up to 10 stories high. A few of these plots are still empty; others have already taken advantage of densifying the available land. We designed a series of inspiring micro-towers for this area. The programmes were developed into various types of functions: living, working, healing, relaxing, exercising, shopping, praying, and so forth. These occupations correlate with innovative spatial arrangements challenging the notion of a sliced space with a vertical array of horizontal plates – spaces have unconventional vertical relations and are as high as the entire 10 stories in the most extreme cases.

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