WOHA and Patricia Urquiola merge architecture and nature to create sustainability and delight
In contrast with the conventional, completely sealed-off, air-conditioned tower, this hotel, designed by WOHA and Patricia Urquiola, merges architecture and nature, and combines indoor and outdoor spaces in a striking fashion to create sustainability and
The Oasia Hotel in the central business district of Singapore, redefines what a high-rise can be in humid tropical climates. According to the architects, the aim was ‘to create an alternative imagery for commercial high-rise developments. It combines innovative ways to intensify land use with a tropical approach that showcases a perforated, permeable, furry, verdant tower.’ The 190m tower contains four large outdoor spaces: three enormous verandas on the 6th, 12th, and 21st floor, as well as a roof terrace on the 27th floor. The roof terrace is surrounded and protected by a 10-storey-high screen, covered in the same red aluminium mesh cladding as the rest of the tower. The facade will gradually be overgrown by 21 species of creepers and vines, creating a lively contrast between vibrant reds and lush greens.
While the pursuit of sustainability is often accompanied by humourless earnestness, WOHA shows that it prefers to stand apart as it combines sustainability with delight: two terms that are prominently present in the office’s design philosophy. Aside from the red/green façade, the sky gardens also offer greenery, fresh air, and opportunities for natural cross-ventilation, as well as representing the most visibly sustainable and delightful aspects of the building. Given the small footprint, WOHA adopted what they call ‘a club sandwich approach by creating a series of different strata, each with its own sky garden.’ Introducing these sky gardens as ‘elevated ground levels’, allowed ‘the precious but limited ground floor space to be multiplied, creating generous public areas for recreation and social interaction throughout the high-rise.
While WOHA can be credited for the architecture of the tower itself and the concept of stacking layers, the actual design of the sky gardens is the work of Spanish designer and architect Patricia Urquiola, who was responsible for all interiors as well as the outdoor spaces of the hotel. For the pools on the 21st and 27th floor, she has used Agrob Buchtal ceramic tiles from the German company’s Chroma series, and has given each pool a different character. Unlike most rooftop amenities in hotels, which are all about the panorama, here the city’s skyline is almost completely concealed by the vegetated screen. This underlines the unconventionality of WOHA’S architecture. Instead of a view, the rooftop offers a place of unexpected intimacy and tranquility from the bustle of the city.