Featured in ‘Prestige – SIA Archifest 2020’

Nature-centric design

Chu Yang Keng, IX Architects, Singapore

Chu Yang Keng (Image: IX Architects/Archifest)

With dense, high-rise housing in Singapore, how can nature-centric design be incorporated more into our living spaces?
Firstly we have supportive government policies that encourage our developments to embrace a strong presence of nature, and we should continue to build on that. Secondly, developers and architects could introduce spaces that have more sensorial access to connect with the outdoors, for example terraces, balconies and vertical green walls. These spaces should be engaging and enable natural transformation to evolve with time.

While designers could put in place suitable green environments, we need more ground-up initiatives for communal greenery to provide a form of ownership for the occupants. This will also bring about a sense of belonging and also fulfill the vision of sustainable ecology.

What are the benefits of adopting nature as one of the key elements of our homes and space?
Undoubtedly, being close to nature and green spaces have several benefits like providing a sense of calm, enhancing personal wellness and promoting therapeutic healing. These green features can also be extended to our working space. In the broader context, strong natural elements in our built spaces help reduce the destruction to our environment with lower temperatures, cleaner air and better spatial ambience. Additionally, when we incorporate nature into our living spaces, we enable wildlife to co-exist with us. An environment filled with sustainable nature is a healthier space for us to live and grow.

Not A Sweat Shop by IX Architects is a breakthrough from conventional garment factory design. Ample green breathing spaces, thermal comfort, and well-being of workers were taken into account in the design. (Image: IX Architects)

Do you see it as a trend among landed home-owners in Singapore? What are some ideas you’ve applied to your Asean projects that can work in Singapore?
Yes, we definitely see more homeowners accepting and embracing nature in their designs. As landed properties here are limited by general plot size, architects find creative means to inject pockets of green spaces into the built environment in the form of terraces, vertical green walls and externalising spaces to connect intimately with the outdoors.

We are able to share and apply our knowledge to our Asean projects that have the same climatic conditions as Singapore. Some of these ideas include the emphasis of courtyards, green terraces and usage of sustainable materials. One example is the Courtyard House in Surakarta, Indonesia, that we had designed for a young family. Another example is an ecologically sensitive industrial development in Phnom Penh where great attention was given to the natural elements and connectivity with nature at the workplace.

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