Competition entry to redevelop the Red Cross headquarter
In March 2016, we participated in the design competition to redevelop the existing site and the Red Cross heritage building in Penang Lane, Singapore. The competition brief called for these issues to be addressed in our proposal:
1. Conserve Red Cross House as a heritage building
2. Increase density of site with additional floor areas of up to 5000 m2
3. Restrict building height up to 10 storeys
4. No ostentatious design yet the architecture should be aesthetically befitting of the corporate headquarters of a humanitarian organisation
5. Strategize the building layout to avoid direct loading onto the expressway tunnel beneath
6. Incorporate eco-friendly and intelligent building features to reduce energy and maintenance costs
7. Plan for open office spaces with hot desking capability
8. Avoid basement car parking due to the underground highway and MRT tunnels yet provide for at least 15 ambulance parking lots
Upon closer examination of these requirements, we asked ourselves the question: "How does Red Cross further sink its roots in the site and Singapore in response to the neighbourhood and the severe land constraints?"
We proposed the concept of 'Criss Crossing' building form, organisational culture and society which led us to these site planning strategies:
1. Pull apart the various functions of the offices and supporting spaces to spur spontaneous interactions between staff, volunteers and the general public as they traverse the building. Moreover, this creates avenues for natural breezes and sunlight to seep into the architecture.
2. Step up and criss-cross the building blocks in response to the topography of Fort Canning Hill and the idiosyncratic street character of Penang Lane's neighbourhood.
3. Create a new pedestrian thoroughfare within the building to Fort Canning Park - which hosts regular art festivals and outdoor concerts - to foster deeper engagements between the organisation and the people.
4. As opposed to fully air-conditioning the offices, create deep and wide corridors to reduce heat gain and promote serendipitous 'hot desks' for people to take in the calm and greenery of Fort Canning Hill.
5. Infuse the roofs with solar panels, lawns and gardens not only to respond ecologically to tropical high rise design, but also to promote the well-being of staff and volunteers working in the tropics.