WOHA global and Indian projects
WOHA is known for its emphasis on environmentally sustainable design and building community. Talking about the firm’s design beliefs Richard said, “We think that buildings should have similar “personality” traits as people and ask ourselves: Is the building generous? Is it friendly? Is it open? Does it help foster community? Does it engage with people? Does it pollute the environment or help contribute by lower energy consumption, by being green, by recycling water etc.?
We love projects in which we can integrate all sorts of functions into one development: living, working, recreation, retail, medical and social services. We feel that mix-use buildings can solve several problems at the same time. Populations are growing and we are running out of space, traffic is increasing and long commuting adds to our carbon footprint with all the emissions that vehicles produce. By building skywards, incorporating the public realm and adding multiple functions to one structure, we reduce the need for people to commute and we can create beautiful living spaces in the sky.”
WOHA is currently involved in two projects with Lodha Group in Mumbai. The New Cuffe Parade and The Park. Both projects are housing developments that have a strong emphasis on greenery, environmental features and community. Briefing on the distinct features of these projects Richard stated, “The New Cuffe Parade project features “pleasure gardens”, integrates passive features like wind scoops to ventilate parts of the underground carpark and provides a total of 730 sky gardens. Whereas, The Park project’s main feature is the huge podium sculpted into a terrain of landscaped green thereby, giving 4hectare of park to the residents of the development. We encouraged the developer to create an active retail street edge rather than a gated development which just presents a wall to the city.
Both projects have strategies in place that lower energy consumption, such as natural cross ventilation of the apartments and sun shading of the windows and facades, and we had more the idea of a neighbourhood in mind rather than a single, isolated development. The community aspect is very important to us, that is why we created many areas in which people can meet and spend their leisure time together.” WOHA hotel projects - such as the Park Royal
on Pickering with its “hanging gardens”, the Oasia Hotel Downtown (both in Singapore) that is wrapped in a green façade and our Alilavillas Uluwatu project in Bali which has very recognizable pavilions made from reclaimed wood – all have very distinct green features. They show that luxury hospitality and ecological responsibility can go hand in hand, and can even be a feature that sells rooms. “Our public housing project Skyville @ Dawson in Singapore and our newest private residential project Sky Garden in Taipei share the idea that gardens in the sky contribute to everybody’s well-being and that creating access to greenery is something that does not have to be limited to certain market segments. Concluding the conversation Richard briefed on his latest project, “Later this year, our Kampung Admiralty project, which is a mixed-use, integrated public housing development will open. We are very excited to have the first occupants move in and experience this new prototype of public housing. It combines living with retail, food and beverage, medical services and social services. The project is tied into the public transport system, has a state-of-the-art bicycle parking/storage system and seamlessly connects to the neighbourhood, inviting everyone in to take advantage of the services on offer. The public spaces were designed to connect people of all ages and abilities, to facilitate the building of community.”
As architects, the challenge is to create a balance between what drives the developer, the market reception and what our own longterm values are. WOHA’S long-term values are to build green, resilient, simple projects that incorporate good passive principles. The challenge is synthesizing solutions which align all of these aspects with the image-based market expectation and the more short-term goals of the developer. One of the solutions we have come up with is to create environments that are based on “resort living” which appeal to the market and the developer but can also be very sustainable.