Duxton Plain Housing Competition 2001
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THE DESIGN
As the residential population of the city is increased, there has to be a corresponding increase in parks and open spaces. But this is impossible, as there is limited availability of land for parks in the city. If parks and other forms of public open space can be made part of high rise buildings then the shortage can be ameliorated. Thus, if one can imagine a vertical park in the 50-storey residential towers presently contemplated a pioneering process could be set in motion. Imagine the vertical park linking all the floors together. Imagine every 7 to 9 apartments (if one apartment is substituted by granny flats) can have access to a pocket park on every floor. These then can be linked in a spiral formation to the pocket park above and below it. Gentle step-ramps could allow connection up and down the entire height of the building. As the spiral makes a complete turn, it serves between 56 to 72 units. 6 turns rises the full 50 storeys. The total length of the vertical park created is approximately 1km. in length in each tower block. A total of over 4 km. of linear park is thus produced in the 5 blocks! Plants in the park will be selected for low maintenance and wind tolerance. Amenities such as park benches, koi ponds and other community facilities can be installed as and when needed. An automatic irrigation and fertilising system will ensure healthy plant growth. A small composter on each floor recycles nutrients from the leaf litter back into the plants.

Residents thus have the opportunity to stroll up and down the high-rise towers enjoying the views and nature close by as never before. Opportunity in forming cohesive communities is generated. Apartments next to the pocket parks on each floor can be planned as granny flats for oldies to live close to their loved ones and give them the opportunity to enjoy and care for the pond and greenery at their door step.

The rooftop is a viewing deck and a rainwater-collecting surface for rooftop tanks. Extensive lightweight rooftop sunshades block off the west sun on the western facades.

Carparks are in a 3-deck basement but a single three stack deeper basement with mechanical car stackers is also considered with possible cost savings. The high clearance basement also allows maintenance truck access.

Block identity is achieved by trellised canopies clearly located at all the vehicle drop-off points. Basement lobbies are clearly positioned and lit. The drop-off point for the low slab-block (Block E) along Cantonment Road is in the basement lobby. Step-ramps also connect pocket parks on each floor adjacent to the lifts of this block. The façade of this block is planted-out by creeping ficus onto a solid sound-barrier wall with fix glass lights along the naturally ventilated common access corridor.

URBAN DESIGN
The gently sloping landform is preserved and most of the perimeter trees are kept. The two LKY trees are transplanted back after the completion of the construction. The openness of the park-like character of the site is maintained as an urban park amenity for the residents and for the local community alike. Perimeter block layout is deliberately avoided so that views from the surrounding roads are not blocked. The terrain can thus be seen to flow smoothly down to meet Duxton Plain Park. A large planted trellis with retractable fabric roof underneath shelters a paved multipurpose surface located adjacent to the Tanjong Pagar Community Club for related and spillover activities.

A one-storey colonnade and landscaped pedestrian deck surrounds the base of the towers. This forms an urban edge to the central green oval. The various retail, civic facilities and service shops are designed to produce a variety of behavioural settings to encourage a lively civic urban culture to evolve. A specially commissioned bronze elliptical monument at the main entrance to the scheme commemorates the historic importance of the site.

COSTING
The cost yardstick of S$1350/sq m is derived from schemes where the densities are much lower and thus there is ample open space for residents. At the extremely high densities proposed for this scheme, a separate provision has therefore to be made in addition to the budget for vertical open spaces integrated into the buildings. The proposed vertical park has thus to be treated as a separately funded element outside the budget. It could, perhaps be drawn from an enhanced park infrastructure budget of the city allocated to encourage urban living. Setting the additional cost of the vertical park aside, the preliminary cost plan indicates that the inherent economy of the central core geometry of the tower structures and the special design of the parking basement enables the cost to be within the cost yardstick of S$1350/ sq m.

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