How Landscape Architecture Helps to Integrate Two Monumental Buildings
Article by Irmak Bilir – The National Gallery / ICN DESIGN Landscape Architects, Singapore
National Gallery Singapore shows us how to integrate two national buildings with landscape architecture successfully. It is one of Asia’s most significant architectural projects in the cultural sphere. It is designed between two national and neo-classical buildings of Singapore.
One of them is the former City Hall and the another one is former Supreme Court, completed in 1929 and 1939, respectively. It was the main aim to integrate these buildings and their surroundings for the art gallery as well as to integrate exterior and interiors. The landscape architecture project makes us see them better in a coherence.
An extensive group from different professions are worked at the National Gallery of Singapore. The leading company is studio Milou architecture in collaboration with CPG Consultants Pte Ltd, and the landscape architecture company is ICN Design Landscape Architects.
The opening of the gallery was held in November 2015, on the day 50th Anniversary of Singapore’s Independence. And the project won Excellence Skyrise Greenery Award and Design of the Year President’s Design Award both in 2015.
Architecture of Monuments
The buildings which were used for some cultural activities or as art museums, in the past, have some different features -like their slightly different colors- but in many ways they integrate. For preserving the buildings’ architectural authenticity and character, restoration works have been planned around the original structure.
“Adding layers to, rather than altering essential aspects of the monument in the name of creating one institution”
Being a national monument, conservation guidelines had to take precedence. Jean-François Milou:“Adding layers to, rather than altering essential aspects of the monument in the name of creating one institution” For integrating the buildings inside, the monuments are conjoined within the basement and for the outside, two sky bridges linked between them.
The gallery spaces, a public atrium, dining terraces and the elegant roof garden and a venue ,where people can put on shows, are the landscape project’s parts, and all of them designed to make people have an amazing experience while they enjoy the gallery.
ICN Design’s professional work includes soft scape and water design, design and documentation, implementation inspection, and for the landscapes features; streetscape and public realm, grand roof garden, roof terraces.
Variation of spaces(scale, character, etc.) is created with small touches inside the buildings, rooftops and at the 3.000 square meters extensive outdoor garden of the National Gallery. Vents and voids are well-integrated into the overall landscape.
New walkways which radically change the circulation and allow visitors new perspectives are added between the buildings. The competition jury is appreciated the team how they transform the visitor experience while changing very little things.
An atrium, which is covered by stylized canopy made of cut-aluminum panels, joins the buildings. The grandly proportioned court looks skyward and it is sloping downwards at the entrance between two monuments and creates a visual continuity.
It is one of the most important elements in the project for integrating buildings with landscape architecture. Linear seating elements are placed longly, next to large planting pots.
There is also some level elevations and some different paving types which give a more dynamic atmosphere to the atrium. Outdoor garden welcomes to arrivals, allow to ceremonies, events, parades, special civic and national occasions, gathering and interaction.
Roystonea palms and layers of hedges reinforce a civic character of the design with their linear form. Their harmony with the buildings is also spectacular. Bauhinia trees, Schefflera and Monstera are some of the other plants which are preferred in planing design, so this lush tropical planting attracts sunbirds and other avian visitors.
Sky bridges and Vertical Gardens
An upper (level 4) and lower (level 3) sky bridges, located in the atrium where the main entrance is, link both City Hall and former Supreme Court. These two bridges offer grand vistas of the buildings. Moreover 5 m tall, and 129m long massive vertical green-walls extending the length of the building.
One wall is adapted to suit shady conditions, and the other to Singapore’s tropical climate. Fresh tropical greenery softening the light to interior galleries. These green canvases create a strong visual and physical connection.
Roof and the Roof Garden
For integrating interior and exterior, a filigree metal and glass structure roof is designed, which drapes over the monuments, is letting in daylight while serving as a screen against the harsh tropical sun.
The roof filters the light, filling the atrium and many of the interior spaces with natural light. The roof system is supported by tree-like steel columns and stretches across both buildings. It gives a sense of continuity between the two buildings and softer ambiance.
The rooftop’s of the former City Hall and the Supreme Court was previously empty, and not opened to the public, so people could not experience the view.
The rooftop garden, located on Level 5 & 6 of old City Hall, is open to the public now, and it is possible to enjoy new perspectives of the buildings and 180 degree views of the spectacular city skyline and seascapes, with garden spaces, water features, and dining areas while they are at the buildings’ highest points.
The surface of the rooftop is smoother luminous and it allows to reflect even soft shadows. For creating flexible spaces while exhibitions and events, movable planters and large pots were used. Furthermore, the roof garden helps to reduce the heat-load within the building with planting.
National Gallery inspires with it’s architecture, landscape architecture and modern art from Singapore, Southeast Asia, and the world. In two weeks after the opening of it, the museum attracted about 170,000 visitors.
What do you think about landscape architecture’s role in integrating the historical buildings and creating new public spaces on this project? Let us know in the comments below!
Full Project Credits For The National Gallery:
Project Name: The National Gallery
Location: St Andrew’s Road, Singapore
Landscape Architect: ICN Design Landscape Architects
Architects: Studio Milou Singapore, CPG Consultants
Image Credits: ICN Design Landscape Architects
Project Year: 2009
Client: Ministry of Communications and Information
Owner: National Gallery Singapore Capital partnership
Completion Date: November 2015
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