In a move away from the enclosed steel and glass towers that populate the skyline of Singapore, Heatherwick Studio’s EDEN draws inspiration from the lush tropical setting of the area’s 19th-century houses. Containing twenty apartments with just one apartment per floor, EDEN is less a tower and more a home in a garden. Over time, the building is designed to mature and become overrun by its lush planting.
To accommodate the plethora of greenery, Heatherwick Studio had to rethink the floorplate of a typical apartment tower. By moving services to the perimeter, they were able to create a large central living space on each floor, surrounded by smaller individual rooms and wide, shell-like balconies that could be filled with tropical plants.
Concrete plays a key role in the design. Firstly its mass blocks warm air to aid cooling inside the apartments but further, the material takes on a lively tactility and form. Inspired by the natural contours of Singapore’s terrain, forms were abstracted to produce one-off moulds for each concrete panel. Heatherwick Studio developed a bespoke casting technique to bring the ideal mixture and concentration of stones to the surface, resulting in a rugged, industrial material with a gem-like quality. Numerous deep red, purple and brown shades were tested under the Singaporean sun. Meanwhile, the exposed underside of the balconies and the handrails are rendered in a smooth, highly polished concrete.
The entrance at ground level to EDEN matches the drama of the building’s exterior. Only 1.5-meters wide, the entrance is more than ten times as high and lined with black granite. The entry opens into a 19-meter-high lobby at the heart of the building, hung with living plant chandeliers.
Throughout the building, materials were selected for their warmth and natural quality, with imperfections revealed rather than concealed. This includes the natural imperfections inherent in the 180 million-year-old Jura limestone that was used for the handmade parquet, and the balcony floors laid with textured herringbone-patterned slate. Solid exposed timber is used for the oak kitchen cabinets and walnut for the entranceways.
Additionally, the building includes a luxurious swimming pool clad in deep green ceramic tiles, giving the impression of a natural lake. Paths, social spaces and hardscaping are all paved in different shades of green granite.
In terms of sustainability, the building incorporates several active and passive energy-conserving features. The deep cantilevered balconies provide solar shading while also maximising the benefits of natural light coming into the apartments through full height bi-folding doors. Windows in the living space open on three sides to allow for natural cross-ventilation while the glazing is set back to reduce solar gain.