Wah Son @ Seletar Aerospace Park is a simple factory building with a sophisticated expression. It makes a strong statement for the architectural potential of a simple typology. By articulating the solid mass as two volumes that frame a narrow slot garden – the first, a straightforward office block and the other, a highly functional workspace for the making of precision tools – an inspiring, dramatic space emerges. This sudden splash of life is unexpected in industrial buildings and provides a point of respite for its occupants. A series of openings in the building’s envelope creates a rhythmic interplay of light and shadow that changes throughout the day, providing workers with a well-ventilated and illuminated working environment. The use of concrete for both the external and internal façades alongside the simple, volumetric detailing adds sculptural quality and displays a remarkable economy of gestures. The Jury commends this project and the architects for their courage in challenging the usually mundane design of business parks, the masterly handling of volume and light, and the creation of a balanced working environment that is infused both by nature and culture.
Architecture & Design Journalist
Yip Yuen Hong of ipli Architects is a creator of soulful spaces. His architecture is born of an honest study and understanding of light, materials, and the corresponding relationships humans have with their built environment. Wah Son @ Seletar Aerospace is an example of his approach. Production and machinery spaces are often defined by a mundane, functional architecture, but Yuen Hong has, through a combination of dramatic and subtle manoeuvres, crafted a building that is textural, airy and creates a close relationship between the occupants and the vicissitudes of nature’s patterns. Instead of one giant shed to accommodate the biggest overhead crane, the design breaks the spaces down into smaller forms, mitigating the potentially massive scale to create more human-friendly proportions. As such, the office block is peeled at the fulcrum to form an internal courtyard between the production and office blocks to be enjoyed by staff from both buildings. This communal gathering space also becomes a vegetable garden that provides food for the kitchen that’s located on the first storey of the office block. The peeling gesture also opens up glimpses of the vista beyond the compound, providing visual respite. From both the top and sides of the building, delicately designed apertures let in natural ventilation and light that not only make the interior workspaces comfortable and conducive, but also create a lively pattern on the façade. The concrete walls, left unpainted, are the perfect foil for the play of sunlight and shadow.