SkyVille @ Dawson envisions a new typology for public housing in high-density urban areas. The architects manage to break down the scale of the high-rise block into a series of vertical villages, creating meaningful communal spaces akin to the traditional kampong, or village.
At 11-storey intervals in elevation, horizontal planes with luscious greenery are inserted to create a spacious and airy environment for each residential cluster. These intervals coincide with, and recall, the heights of the first generation of public housing in Singapore. This brings the familiarity of a ground-level void deck to even residents who are living at higher levels.
A variety of communal spaces such as 'living' rooms and sky gardens are carefully curated along the 'streets' in the sky at three strategic levels to create a more human-scaled environment in a 47-storey building complex. A repetition of simple geometry creates a rich diversity of spaces, visual connectivity and a sense of orientation.
The Jury commends SkyVille @ Dawson for being an exemplar for future public housing design, while still retaining the spirit of the old kampongs.
World Architecture Festival
In the history of Singaporean public housing, SkyVille @ Dawson represents a new peak of design quality. Over the past 50 years, the necessity for economical homes, delivered in quantity, has presented architects with a difficult challenge: how to create high-density estates without losing a sense of community for their inhabitants? This is an even greater challenge with respect to tall buildings, but WOHA has demonstrated that it is possible to respond triumphantly.
For many reasons, SkyVille's design is an exemplar for public housing authorities beyond Singapore's boundaries. First, despite the provision of 960 units in three linked blocks, residents can relate to a discrete group of neighbours as a result of the arrangement of stacked 'sky villages', thereby humanising the scale of the towers themselves.
Secondly, community terraces and gardens have been designed into each of these 'villages'. These enhance the sense of neighbourhood, but they are also supplemented by beautifully detailed facilities for all residents at ground and roof levels.
Third, the environmental design marks a sophisticated synthesis of a contemporary aesthetic with construction and materials technology, and a deep understanding of tropical conditions that exploits the benefits of light, sun and breeze while mitigating overheating and monsoon conditions.
Finally, the design celebrates what is often treated in a utilitarian way. The height of the blocks is enjoyed, not disguised, even though scale is modified through the village strategy. The generous landscape provision means that formal family occasions can be conducted, as well as more prosaic day-to-day activities.
The result is a residential and architectural landmark for users of all ages that is simultaneously large and small in scale, intimate and public, generous and economical, protective and inviting. It is no exaggeration to describe SkyVille @ Dawson as proving the dictum of Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) Gold Medallist Berthold Lubetkin: "Nothing is too good for ordinary people".