My reason for picking this building is to explore and share the great impact making and using green architecture designs can do for the surrounding area and to take away from the monotony that a city can have. Singapore-based WOHA Architects have long been advocates of the ultimate green city one that would be comprised of more vegetation than if it were left as wilderness and the Parkroyal on Pickering was designed as a hotel-as-garden that actually doubled the green-growing potential of its site. Massive curvaceous sky-gardens, draped with tropical plants and supporting swathes of frangipani and palm trees, are cantilevered at every fourth level between the blocks of guest rooms. Greenery flourishes throughout the entire complex, and the trees and gardens of the hotel appears to merge with those of the adjoining park as one continuous sweep of urban parkland.
Most of Singapores recent architecture especially in and around the city centre is nothing more than generic and can be seen anywhere in the world, regardless of climate and culture. An equilibrium point of architectural anonymity has been derived from a number of factors corporate and bureaucratic risk-avoidance, a desire to promote a global (homogenous) image rather than local, and the ubiquity of semi-famous international architects but a uniquely progressive tropical city has been sold short. WOHA paid no attention to the placeless blandness of the modern Singapore skyline, and finally the city has a uniquely expressive urban landmark that reinterprets and reinvigorates its location. WOHA are proposing that commercial architecture must respond to the city as its civic duty and as public architecture.
Now for the site it occupies and the materials used that WOHA used. The Parkroyal on Pickering occupies a long and narrow site on the western edge of the central business district, between Hong Lim Park and the HDB apartment blocks of Chinatown, and overlooks the historic shophouse district between the park and the Singapore River. The development could thus respond to many separate and disparate environments, it could provide public connections between those zones, and as the building would be extremely visible from and across the parkland to the north the architects could make a grand (and green) urban gesture. The architecture is fundamentally organic, but the fluid geometry has a loftier sense of purpose. The elaborately composed timber mouldings above the reception area reveal WOHAs fondness for utilising crafted ornament as interior design, thus incorporating the traditions of vernacular Asia within the modern city. However, the decorative forms of the Parkroyal on Pickering tangibly pay homage to the lingering legacy of the mosques of the Moors and the Persians, to the exotic patterning of Isfahan and the Alhambra. WOHA also made this great podium that is a remarkable piece of architectural theatre: it presents a monumental embellishment to the Singapore streetscape, and has thus immediately achieved something that no other recent building has even attempted. Referred to by WOHA as topographical architecture, the stratified undulating layers of pre-cast concrete wrap around, through and above the car park and the public areas of the hotel, as contour lines weaving through a modular grid of cylindrical columns.
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