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Welcoming community center ENABLING VILLAGE

Woha

Welcoming community center ENABLING VILLAGE
By Michael Webb -

Wong Mun Summ and Richard Hassell founded WOHA in 1994 after working together for Kerry Hill, an Australian minimalist with a flourishing practice in Singapore. Over the past two decades, they have created some of the island’s most emblematic buildings, responding creatively to the hot, humid climate and the progressive spirit of place. Their portfolio includes subway stations and hotels, public housing and educational facilities, commercial projects and a church. Large or small, they share the same concern: to create naturally cooled, humanely scaled environments that everyone can enjoy. They have far exceeded the official requirements for public rooms and green spaces in every development, and are now introducing their enlightened concepts to cities in India, China and Australia. It is no exaggeration to say that WOHA are helping to save the planet by putting their philosophy into practice and demonstrating the economic feasibility of their design strategies. “Singapore is in a sweet spot between a very developed economy and one that retains many traces of the developing world”, says Hassell. “That is very exciting for a firm like ours who likes to customize and incorporate hand-work, while relying on sophisticated construction companies”. Each of their projects has a distinct character; the only common feature is greenery. “We see landscape as a principal ingredient in our buildings, not as garnish”, Hassel explains. “It is very stressful to be surrounded by hard surfaces that fill your visual frame. Greenery in the city relaxes us, as it does in a park”. It certainly does so at the Oasia Hotel Downtown, a high-rise hotel that contrasts boldly with the generic office towers that wall it in. Rounded corners and a tapered crown give it an organic character, and its red aluminum mesh wrapping serves as a climbing frame for 21 species of creeper. Deep cuts reveal sky gardens at different levels, giving it a...

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