Alsop’s first major project in Asia, a dramatic redevelopment of the river front district of Clarke Quay in Singapore, gives the area a new identity and repositions Clarke Quay as a vibrant and attractive destination.
For Alsop the challenge was to provide a new lease of life not just by developing an attractive redesign of the streetscape and waterfront but also to address the perennial climate problem, and to find ways to mitigate against the Singapore ambient temperature and heavy rainfall, without resorting to the traditional scenario of creating an internal air conditioned mall.
The streetscape has been transformed into a pleasant climate-moderated environment of landscaped arcades. Elegant canopies, providing environmentally friendly shading and cooling, which protect visitors against the extremes of the Singaporean climate and maintain the temperature at 28 degree Celsius, cover the four internal streets and central courtyard.
Known as the “Angels,” the willowy umbrella-like structures comprise ETFE (Ethyl Tetra Fluro Ethylene) cushioned canopies, supported on steel frames. Cantilevering over the roofs of adjacent shop houses, the Angels provide solar shading and rain protection.
Tree planting in the streets provides further shading and solar absorbency and the installation of a feature fountain in the centre of the restaurant-lined courtyard affords further visual and cooled environmental benefit.
The frames of the Angels support large Whale-tail slow speed fans that provide a low level artificial breeze in the streets.
A revival of the river front itself has been achieved through the creation of an elevated dining area that projects out over the river wall to maximise the waterfront experience, and create a level of separation and privacy for diners.
This is dramatically effected by the installation of a series of elevated “Lilypad” dining platforms covered by distinctive bespoke sun and rain umbrellas, known as “Bluebells” that animate the water’s edge. Illuminated at night in a variety of colours the Bluebell umbrellas, and their reflection in the Singapore River, are reminiscent of an array of traditional Chinese lanterns arranged to celebrate the Chinese mid-autumn festival.
The development of a new urban entertainment block, containing Ministry of Sound and Crazy Horse, along River Valley Road away from the river, creates a dynamic and stronger presence for Clarke Quay from River Valley Road, and from Fort Canning beyond.
The first phase of the diamond shaped site, completed in March 2006, has effected a total transformation of the area’s ambience, activity and appearance through the redevelopment of the three main areas; the river front, the streets and River Valley Road.
This project is an integral part of Alsop’s expansion into Asia. The practice now has offices in Singapore, Shanghai and Beijing to serve a growing workload in the region.