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Bamboo Skyscraper  > Bamboo Skyscraper Competition. Singapore >  2014. Special Mention Award



The Urban Hybrid Catalyst project proposes a new city center that integrates city poles and areas with different character, from the urban downtown frame to the natural structure of Marina Bay generating an interface area with a predominant single element that incorporates the Singapore diversity of different flows and urban realities. In urban scale terms, the project proposes a system in which the city is open both to the waterfront and to the actual urban frame, simultaneously providing decentralization from the actual business district and spreading of future activities along the bay.


On the other hand, the project proposes a double expansion: vertical and horizontal. The vertical expansion, 344 m, integrates the project into the current Singapore skyline and its future development. The horizontal expansion is adapting its shape to the site and urban conditions. This double expansion strategy maximizes the mixed used capacity and quality of space, generating a landscape area that incorporates an urban plaza facing Nicoll Highway and Ophir Road that then turns gradually into a natural park area facing Republic Avenue and the South Marina Promenade, Park and Gardens.


This system allows the development of recreational uses in open public spaces, with local pedestrian and bicycle paths and parking areas. The proposal also includes a direct connection with the SMRT city system inside the building to increase the connection capability of the area with the general public transport systems of the city.


In programmatic terms, the project strategy is to create an intermediate urban space that encourages both self-containment and the mixing of uses and communities, thereby creating a new place for social interaction. In this case, the city is activated through the hybridization of architecture and urbanism, incorporating the rhythms and cycles of urban space into the interior of the building as an internalized micro-scale urban solution. This emphasizes a polychronic approach of the space with capability to operate in different time frames, blending spatial and temporal design. 


Incorporating the diversity of surrounding businesses, such as large corporations and vast commercial areas of the west side of the plot with the small traditional shops located on the north side creates a new proposed area with completely different uses. These include offices, studios, residential housing, hotels, and recreational areas. It is a complement to the actual uses that at the same time creates a contrast colliding in one element.


The construction solution proposes a system that maximizes contrast and interconnectedness between actual global construction technology and vernacular traditional solutions. This strategy of technological hybridization between high technology and traditional technology not only makes the project more sustainable in terms of cost through the use of vernacular construction solutions but also provides alternative solutions to solar protection and facilitates the development of passive systems of ventilation and temperature control.


The bamboo facade system covers more than 70% of the total area of the facade (60,663,40 m2), considering that the climate conditions of Singapore are tropical rainforest with high degrees of intense sunlight and humidity the whole year. The combination of the bamboo system and open facade and vertical gardens in the building public areas increases natural ventilation, providing better wind flow to produce a feeling of freshness with the sea breeze and a solar protection system the whole year.


In constructive and structural terms, the bamboo facade serves not only as a way to create the building envelope, but is also a protective skin that provides structural resistance, flexibility, and increases the capacity of the whole structural system in combination with the core and slab systems of the building.


The bamboo facade system is developed through an interweaving process, much like an open lattice system, in which the density of the bamboo frame increases in different steps and at the same time, the scale of the elements diminishes the same way. As well, the use of different bamboo species creates a color gradient effect from lighter bamboo tones to darker ones. The flexibility of the bamboo enables it to create the curvature of the elements through processes of heat and pressure. In this way the system is developed by the following materials on the different steps: 


Step A. Composed by Aluminum Tubular Structure of 800 mm of diameter, is the supporting structure of the bamboo system and constructive connection with the floors and slabs of the building. This structure is connected to the bamboo poles of the next structure (step B) through an interlocking connection technique using metal anchors or wood-cores.


Step B. Bamboo Structure Type 1. Species Phyllostachys pubescens, 120 mm diam. Interlocking connections by metal anchor or wood-core techniques.


Step C. Bamboo Structure Type 2. Species Phyllostachys bambusoides, 70 mm diam. Interlocking connections metal anchor or wood-core connection technique.


Step D. Bamboo Structure Type 3 (Non Structural), Species Phyllostachys aurea, 50 mm diam. with a nominal minimum thickness of 10 mm. Plug-in/Bolt connection.


Step E. Bamboo Structure Type 4 (Non Structural) , Species Phyllostachys nigra, 40 mm diam. with a nominal minimum thickness of 10 mm. Friction-tight rope connection through bamboo or nylon strips.


Bamboo in exterior applications has to withstand the influences of weathering, which requires a suitable durability; the solution proposed is through copper solution by impregnating it.


In conclusion, the Urban Hybrid Catalyst project is like the city of Singapore, simultaneously global and vernacular; it includes high technological solutions with traditional construction systems connecting the city with its natural structures and borders, and incorporating small scale as well as territorial scale uses. It can be a transit space and also a permanent new center. It is activating the city from the district scale to urban territorial scale, all the while activating the natural boundaries of the city creating new recreation and outdoor activities.

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