Winner of the international design competition for Singapore University of Technology and Design’s (SUTD) new student housing and sports facilities, LOOK Architects’ design proposal envisions a spatial framework embracing creative liberty and possibilities. Drawing a parallel to traditional Chinese painting (empty space being regarded as a spatial element sharing equal if not greater importance as solid figuration), voids are seen as spaces for imagination to thrive.
This dimension of ‘energised voids’ in the design approach is manifested as a peek-aboo trail of collaborative spaces along the common corridors of hostel blocks – an orchestration of multiuse spaces open for leisurely exchanges. On a macro scale, these perforations in the 12-storey hostel blocks are strategically located to allow for increased air movement through the building mass, a passive environmental control measure that promotes natural ventilation through housing units.
Exhibiting an innovative housing morphology, the modularity of undergraduate, graduate and faculty units enables various room permutations to be accommodated within the hostel blocks, introducing flexibility and scalability to the spatial framework. Iterations of housing units are stringed together to form elongated linear blocks linked up by the winding ‘peek-a-boo trail’.
A living-learning spine linking the academic, housing and sports components of the campus is effective in maintaining a low carbon footprint, by enabling seamless connectivity on foot without the need for shuttle buses plying the campus road network. Open spaces between buildings – across which the living-learning spine spans – are lushly landscaped, a welcome respite for faculty members and students hurtling through their daily hectic schedules. An expansive biological pond in the landscape serves as a basin collecting rainwater and surface water run-off for landscape irrigation.
Behind the iconic form of the sports complex lies careful consideration for environmental sustainability, as demonstrated by the use of a double façade – the external faceted expanded mesh panels diffuse daylight passing through the glazed façade, enabling a high degree of visual porosity without the glare. Another design investigation into complexity arising from modularity, the faceted mesh envelop is composed from variations of a single base module. Bright, evenly illuminated interiors of the sports complex offer an inviting environment for enjoyment of recreational activities, while the visibility of this activity from the building exterior creates a unique character for the campus.