Part 12 of IGS Through the Lens Series takes us on a revisit of the WOHA designed Oasia Hotel in downtown Singapore. New photographs released by ceramics manufacturer AGROB-BUCHTAL show nature beginning to claim the building. WOHA Architects’ 30-story scheme was designed to be a “verdant tower of green” in the heart of the city’s financial district.
The Oasia Hotel in the central business district Singapore is by all means and standards a unique project, redefining what a high-rise can be in humid tropical climates. In contrast with the conventional, completely sealed-off, air-conditioned tower, this hotel, designed by local office WOHA, merges architecture and nature, and combines indoor and outdoor spaces in a striking fashion. 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 tower, which has a height of 190 metres, contains four large outdoor spaces: three enormous verandas on the 6th, 12th, and 21st floor, as well as a roof terrace on 27th floor. This 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. This facade will gradually be overgrown by 21 species of creepers and vines, creating a lively contrast between vibrant reds and lush greens.
The Oasia is, like the majority of WOHA’s work, located in Singapore. WOHA was founded in 1994 by Singaporean Wong Mun Summ in partnership with Richard Hassell, who hails from Australia and moved to Singapore in 1989.
While the pursuit of sustainability is often accompanied by humourless earnestness, WOHA shows that it prefers to stand apart. This Oasia Hotel, which is part of an eponymous chain, combines sustainability with delight, two terms that are prominently present in the office’s design philosophy.
Aside from the red façade – soon to be completely green – 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.
The sky gardens came about in response to the client’s brief, which asked for distinct parts in the hotel. 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, which WOHA describes 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. Urquiola adds a breezy elegance to WOHA’s delightfully quirky architecture.
Article text and images courtesy of AGROB BUCHTAL