Singapore just got leafier
Architect WOHA creates sky gardens high above the metropolis in Park Royal Hotel
One manifestation of luxury in the hotel sector is air conditioning. Some hotels - particularly in Dubai - seem to treat it as the epitome of fine living, with staff nipping in to turn it back on or up, even when guests have turned it off or at least down.
You’d think that a hotel in hot-and-steamy Singapore would be forgiven for installing hermetically-sealed apertures, but the Park Royal on Pickering is instead embracing its tropical-rainforest climate. By perching the hotel’s towers on tall pillars and adding some external shelving, local architecture practice WOHA has created for guests a rainforest of their own.
Since celebrated Frenchman Patrick Blanc started plugging moss and ferns into walls, we’ve seen plenty of vertical gardens. London’s Athenaeum Hotel in Mayfair sports a marvellous example of Blanc’s upwardly mobile planting system for example.
But WOHA has done something rather more ambitious. This is no floral retrofit, but an integration of forestry into the fabric of the design. Three ‘skygardens’ sit on ledges the length of each tower, meaning hotel rooms have green balconies. These ledges have been given meandering, irregular edges, adding to the impression of nature. In fact the rock-like strata effect is created by pre-cast concrete, which the architects claim mimics the contours of an Asian paddy field.
WOHA’s team describes Parkroyal on Pickering as “ a study of how we cannot only conserve our greenery in a built-up high-rise city centre but multiply it in a manner that is architecturally striking, integrated and sustainable.” Richard Hassell, the firm’s founding director, enjoys blurring the distinction between hard architecture and soft landscapes but admits that working with plants is a challenge.“For architects, it is quite a change in mindset to deal with living things,” he says.
“Normally an architect is trying to make things that are as static as possible, and resist wear and tear. But plants grow, and change, and drop leaves, and wilt and die if you forget about them.” One thing's for sure: rather cleverly, all that foliage hides the building’s rather unsightly above-ground car-park. The feel of the buiding reminds us a lot of some of the projects in our book Vitamin Green. And if you like this kind of thing and you haven't taken your summer break yet A) what's taking you? and B) remember to download a copy of the Phaidon Architecture Travel app before you go. You'll find more about it here.