With a little ‘green ingenuity’, AgFacadesign deftly turns a stark atrium into a lively and stimulating space.
18 August, 2011
158 Cecil Street used to be a modest building in a sea of commercial skyscrapers along Singapore’s Central Business District.
Built in 1984, it was designed to be environmentally responsive where receding floor plates and external RC planters provided shading.
Over the years, commercial changes have led to A&A works to optimise the site’s potential.
The latest project involved adding 4 floors to the 10-storey building, supported by a new 1.5-storey high transfer-floor structure spanning over 40 metres across the depth of the building’s floor plate. The result was a new facade with an external recessed atrium juxtaposed against the existing receding floor plates.
Although the use of wire mesh in the new facade met local fire authority requirements, aesthetically it did meet the client’s expectations.
AgFacadesign was thus challenged to come up with a creative solution to make the facade and atrium more inviting for tenants.
The primary objective, according to AgFacadesign’s principal architect Kelvin Kan, was to maintain the atrium as an ’external space’ without the need for any fire fighting provisions such as sprinklers and smoke detectors.
With that in mind, the team has designed a unique ’layered’ facade using alternating full-height glass panels spaced wide apart. The resulting gaps between the staggered glass sheets (clipped onto the sides of steel mullions) bring a good amount of natural ventilation and light into the atrium.
To inject more life into the stark and sombre looking atrium space, a ’hanging garden’ – which can be seen from most office floors – has also been introduced.
Two 7-storey high green walls are positioned on either ends of the atrium with 2 intermediate green columns stretching from level 2 to 10. A total of 13,000 pots of plants are mounted onto metal frames – water tanks feed each one through individual drip tubes via an automated irrigation system, though the opened facade also allows some rain to drizzle through.
Disused RC planters have also been reinstated with draping money plants while glass floor panels on level 3 provide visual connectivity to the pavement and road level below.
As the atrium’s orientation offers only limited sunlight during the day, artificial ’growth lights’ have been strategically mounted to ensure all plants receive their full lighting needs.
By night, architectural accent lights make the striking green landscape clearly visible through the layered glass facade.
Though not intended, birds, butterflies and dragonflies have also become frequent ’guests’ to this unexpected hanging garden in the city!
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