German architect Ole Scheeren has won the first Urban Habitat Award by the Chicago-based Council of Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH), the organisation said on Thursday.
The prize was presented for housing development The Interlace, built in Singapore.
The project combines environmentally-friendly urban living with social sustainability, qualifying it for the new category of the CTBUH, which awards a range of architectural prizes.
Mr. Scheeren rose to fame with the landmark cuboid CCTV Tower in Beijing, the headquarters of China’s state broadcaster, which won the council’s Best Tall Building prize in 2013.
“The idea was to create a vertical village,” Mr. Scheeren said. The 170,000 square metre complex in Singapore was completed in 2013 and is now fully occupied.
“It evolved around the question of how to redefine the living realm of human beings not only in an individual but also a social sense, and how to develop a building structure out of that.”
Instead of following the usual typology of urban housing with clusters of isolated towers, the design turns the vertical into the horizontal.
Its 31 apartment blocks, each six stories tall, are stacked in a hexagonal arrangement around eight courtyards.
“You could also say, I took vertical high rises, knocked them over into the horizontal and piled them up, Mr. Scheeren said.
The interlocking blocks with their outdoor spaces are intended to form a topography. Roof gardens and landscaped terraces together provide a green area 112 per cent the size of the unbuilt site.
The blocks hover on top of each other to form an “interlaced” space that connects 1,040 individual apartments with community areas, “to turn vertical isolation into horizontal connectivity,” Mr. Scheeren explained.
“Interlace opens a space of collective experience within the city and reunites the desire for individuality and privacy with a sense of togetherness and living in a community,” the architect said.
“Social interaction is integrated with the natural environment in a synthesis of tropical nature and habitable urban space.” This way the design “generates a multiplicity of qualities and choices for its inhabitants,” he said.
The environmental analysis and low-impact passive energy strategies earned the housing development the Green Mark Gold Plus Award for sustainability from Singapore’s Building Construction Authority.