Heatherwick Studio designs tower to become overrun by its lush planting

Heatherwick Studio designs tower to become overrun by its lush planting

27 May 2020 News

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. 

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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. 

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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. 

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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.  

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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. 

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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.  

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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. 

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