Sandcrawler by Andrew Bromberg at Aedas

November 25, 2017

Sandcrawler: It is the new regional headquarters for Lucas film Singapore on plot CX2-1. Combining the intended use with a strong civic ambition within the one-north master plan in Singapore, the design for this project not only enjoys this duality but also seeks a solution which celebrates that diversity.

The master planning guidelines for this project are highly defined, dictating envelope heights and setbacks, roof profile which has to follow a specific sloping topography and the minimum amount of mass on all faces of the enclosure. A ‘horseshoe’ plan was developed to achieve the desired daylighting and meet master plan requirements while achieving a lush tropical garden enclosure.

Floors were reduced from the bottom up until the correct allowable gross floor area was reached. The result was an 82% efficiency, maintaining the height requirements as well as carving out a double volume space in the center for a state of the art 100-person theatre and gallery. The taut external metallic facade is a low-iron insulated glass with an inner metallic frit layer, allowing for good solar protection and privacy on the more exposed faces. The courtyard side façade is more contained and private with highly transparent glass and overhanging terraces providing shading to the lower levels.

Site: – The building is located within one-north, a master plan in Singapore developed to house R&D, high technology activities in the biomedical sciences, infocomm technology and media industries. As part of the broader pedestrian connectivity network and one-north space concept linking two areas – Central Xchange and Life Xchange – across one-north Park, it is important to create a visual and physical connection between Nepal Hill and one-north Park. This ultimately results in the provision of a publicly accessible space across Sandcrawler along Portsdown Road.

Undoubtedly, placing retail or activity generating spaces like cafes along the side of the building facing one-north Park comes almost naturally as this stretch is able to activate the frontage along Central Exchange Green and draw the continuation of activities from Fusionopolis 3 and 2B, while tapping onto the park. The placement of activity areas is also encouraged to be extended to the publicly accessible space along Portsdown Road. In contrast, blank walls such as escape stairs and service exits that face the public space and one-north Park are strongly discouraged.

Planning Restriction: – The master planning guidelines for this project are highly defined, dictating envelope heights and setbacks. What is unusual about the controls is that it stipulates a certain height and a specific sloping topography for the building. The guidelines also regulate the minimum amount of mass on the enclosure.

Project Brief: – As the regional headquarters of one the world’s leading entertainment companies, the building form has to portray a unique statement while commanding a strong presence within the one-north vicinity. In tandem, the client requested for a state-of-the-art 100-seat movie theatre for screening and other events. An efficient floor plate is needed as well to complement the building as a revenue-generating office development.

Design Concept: – The design approaches the strict master plan guidelines deliberately to fulfil the viability requirements as well as provide a strong civic quality for the regional headquarters. Marrying these factors with the client’s aspirations resulted in a horseshoe plan enclosing a lush tropical garden at its heart. At the horseshoe’s ends, a series of overhanging terraces are draped with luxuriant foliage. Such plan not only provides a great civic space that most office buildings do not have the luxury to enjoy, but also offers spectacular garden view for the office tenants.

The building is also elevated up to 13 metres above ground to create a generous and sheltered public space on ground level, further giving a strong civic dimension not normally associated with corporate offices. The high performance façade addresses different audiences and contexts with a smooth combination of polished, sleek surfaces and jarring sharp angles that taper towards the courtyard. The outer skin of low-iron glass with an inner metallic-frit dot layer underneath allows daylight to penetrate the interior without solar heat gain; while on the lush courtyard side, the façade is more open and wrapped in a layer of highly transparent glass.

In addition, the floor slabs off the wing walls and courtyard and slowly steps out from the lower floors to the upper ones. This maximises ‘perceived’ volume within the landscape deck and reduces the aperture moving up to reduce solar heat gain in office spaces. At the horseshoe ends, luxuriant planting and green terraces hanging down further shelter the offices from the sun while tying the spectacular building into the untamed landscape below.

Use of Space: – The width of the floor plates are kept at an average of 19 metres in depth for reasonable daylighting within a double aspect office space. These floor plates were designed with regards to the three faces of the building. On the face which does not have any minimum requirements, the floor plate is kept open. The resulting horseshoe plan achieves an efficient floor plate with an average net to gross area efficiency of over 82% – exceeding client’s expectation.

Inside the building, space is carved out to create an expressively contoured 100 seat theatre for screenings, performances and other events for the client as well as other commercial tenants. The facility is located in the middle of the vessel on the upper levels of the lower end user zone and immediately below the leased tenant spaces to ensure convenience. Slightly visible through the metallic façade from the outside and openly visible to the courtyard, this feature further differentiates the building from other corporate office buildings. The nine-storey building is elevated on 13-metre-high pilotis, creating a generous and lush public space for the tenants and passers-by to enjoy.

Sustainability: – The overhanging terraces at the horseshoe ends with greenery cascading down the building in time, the heavily landscaped garden, the outer skin of low-iron glass over a metallic dot-frit inner layer on the façade, and the covered walkways all help reduce solar heat gain. Other sustainable highlights include: Light, Heat (Mechanical Services), Water, Conservation and Recycling.

Safety and Security: – The lobby security system is based on a state of the art ‘optical’ turnstile, replacing the obtrusive physical barrier by utilising active infra-red beams to create invisible electronic field between two pedestals. It automatically monitors the passage of every individual entering and leaving the facility and alerts security staff the presence of unauthorised entrants. Tenants pass through gates speedily while unauthorised entry attempts can easily be identified. This offers a similar level of security as a ½ height turnstile and is designed to connect with an audible alarm and other security measures such as CCTV systems, lighting and locking doors.

Project Name:  Sandcrawler

Project Location:  Singapore

Architect:   Andrew Bromberg at Aedas

Client:   Lucas Real Estate, Singapore

Structural Engineer:   Arup Singapore

Consultants:   J Roger Preston (M&E), Adrian L Norman (Landscape)

Arup Acoustics (Theatre), Lighting Design Partnership (Lighting), ALT (Facade)

Main Contractor:   Obayashi Corporation

Project height:   74.5 metres

Site area:   6,816.90 square metres

Gross floor area:   22,495.77 square metres

Completion year:   2013

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