Our Tampines Hub (OTH)

The design typology for Our Tampines Hub (OTH), the model of an integrated hub, is uncommon and unprecedented in Singapore. More than a dozen governmental stakeholders, providing more than 30 community, sports, cultural, civic and lifestyle facilities, are brought together for a common social goal of enhancing the daily lives of the Tampines community.

The design of OTH allows for the exploration of the new concept of intensification, optimisation and integration, bringing together multiple agencies to transform the original site of the single-use stadium and sports hall into a wider array of not only enhanced sports facilities, but also a host of additional ones such as town square (dual-use as a FIFA football pitch) a regional library, a hawker centre, performing arts theatre, a myriad of community activity spaces, arts and dance studios, F&B, lifestyle shops and more.

OTH is envisioned as a highly collaborative effort between various agencies, stakeholders, grassroots organisations and most importantly, the residents. From day one, the decision was made that the wider community had to be engaged and participate in the design process. That triggered a whole array of extensive and intensive community-related engagement activities—from newsletters to social media channels, roadshows, focus group discussions, workshops, block parties and floor parties. These engagements of different scales, which are still ongoing, helped shape the design process and influenced numerous design approaches and outcomes. As such a level of engagement has rarely been seen in Singapore, it was a refreshing experience for the architect to empower the community to shape their environment. This aligns well with the ambition to make the project a truly community-owned one that is for and by the residents of Tampines.

Besides generating high social value, OTH also offers an opportunity to explore a distinctive paradigm of integration, as one of Singapore’s first integrated community and lifestyle hubs, in this scale and magnitude. This typology also allows stakeholders to explore fresh ways to co-locate, co-share and collaborate synergistically in hardware and software, ultimately aiming to serve residents better.

Strategically located at the heart of Tampines Town Centre, well served by major vehicular and pedestrian arteries, OTH is designed to sensitively respond to the surrounding context—from form and massing, to how it relates and integrates surrounding networks of nodes and modes of connectivity. Seen as a part of a larger Tampines heartland, OTH is planned to weave in prevailing networks, to further enhance connectivity that is not only efficient, but highly experiential for the Tampines community. As an epicentre of community, sports, culture and recreation, OTH is poised to be an integral part of the new residential fabric that forms a key everyday destination for the enjoyment of Tampines residents from all walks of life, regardless of age and interests.

In planning and design outlook, OTH has been distinctively and strategically designed and expressed in interlocking programmatic volumes, challenging conventional organisation of facilities by silos, to further promote wider integration and synergy in hardware and software. Evident in the expression of OTH is also a highly porous ground floor imbued with community programmes with elevated streetscapes weaving various clusters in various materials and textures, adding interest and presence. OTH will also feature a characteristic sheltered community pedestrian street that runs eastwards and westwards through the heart of the hub, connecting the residents from Tampines Central to and fro the Central Park, bringing further bustle and lease of life to the Tampines locale.

Further enhancing softer aspects of the hub, OTH is also conceived as a large and integrated green infrastructure, designed sustainably with green in look and in heart. Extensive green walls, accessible sky terraces and rooftop gardens are designed for leisure and enjoyment, as well as eco-community farming. In addition, besides utilising solar PV roof to harness renewable energy sources, latest techniques such as wormeries and food waste recycling technologies like eco-digestors will also be introduced and showcased in the development to cultivate greater environmental consciousness. All of these features in OTH aim to develop a self-sustaining and holistic ecosystem of active and sustainable living, with an ecological mindset of reducing carbon footprint and impact to our environment.

Key organisation principles of interlocking clusters are expressed in OTH to provide a clear manifestation of the dynamic nature of the development. Each of the clusters are expressed differently in materiality and textures. The community cluster is expressed in pockets of volumes of spaces enclosed in aluminium cladding in solid and dichroic panels with windows that encourages visibility to the activities in these spaces and breaks the boundaries between the Community Club/Library and residents.

The sports halls are cladded in green walls to soften the large voluminous spaces that are typically solid façades. The green walls provide further passive cooling to the building. The selection of plants comprises native and non-native plants that have been normalised to local conditions to ensure that they are able to thrive and grow.

The design of the festive spine is to perform as a natural gathering space for the residents whereby the use of ethylene tetrafluoroethylene (ETFE) pillow roof encourages daylight and provides shelter to maximise residents’ comfort.

Reminiscent of Tampines’ rich history as a sand quarry, the festive spine is flanked by layers of glass fibre reinforced concrete (GFRC) panels on each storey, with textures and patterns that pay homage to the memory of the strata layers in the sand quarry.

The major challenges of OTH naturally stem from its complex scale as a development. It was set up with multistakeholder involvement in the physical construction and aspirations of full integration in design, operations and programming. The stakes were high to make sure that the development will not become a white elephant, but as envisioned, a major community place relevant for the community, by the community. Hence, it called for a people-centric approach in intensive engagement with the residents and stakeholders.

One of the challenges that came with the cooperative design process was while respecting various aspirations and points of view, numerous overlapping or conflicting requirements emerged. In resolving these cases, the team worked closely to bring various parties together to discuss, deliberate and dissolve silos, guided by aligning the established shared vision of resident centricity and greater collective interest of the project as core principle, to balance the different needs in a coherent and purposeful way.

Another aspect of the challenge was the complexity of the physical construction and management of the project and the large team. Existing site conditions of the underground train tunnel running diagonally across the site, coupled with deep-basement construction and complex nature of multifunctional development, posed various challenges in site and construction works. The team of consultants and builders worked closely together with the client to iron out issues and address the challenges expeditiously, so as to meet the different project milestones.

Lastly in operation and programming, as a pioneering model of integrated management and operations, the client’s operational team developed a robust system of management, weaving in a host of programmes and calendar of activities to ensure that this large social infrastructure is fully inclusive.

Through the course of this project, the experience has continued to strengthen the team’s beliefs in the importance and benefits of social-based architecture as well as more participatory design process, to purposefully co-create a project that brings the community closer together in a more cohesive way.

The exposure has also elevated the team’s experience to better work with and manage a complex assemblage of stakeholders, end users, consultants, contractors in an integrated project of this nature, through recognising the importance of constantly aligning to an established common vision within the team. These past years on OTH has also given the team opportunities to work closely with policy makers, agencies, grassroots, community and residents on the ground directly, giving critical insights to the dynamic and evolving social landscape, rising expectations and shifts in the psyche of the society.

Project Name: Our Tampines Hub (OTH)
Location: 1 Tampines Walk, Singapore
Completion Date: November 2017
Expected Final Completion: June 2018
Site Area: 56,810.16 square metres
Gross Floor Area: 121,600 square metres
Building Height: 7 storeys with 2-level basements
Owner: People’s Association
Architecture Firm: DP Architects Pte Ltd
Principal Architects: Teoh Hai Pin; Seah Chee Huang
Interior Design Firm: DP Design Pte Ltd
Principal Designer: Mike Lim
Project Manager: Arcadis Project Management Pte Ltd
Civil & Structural Engineer: TY Lin International Pte Ltd
Mechanical & Electrical Engineer: AECOM Singapore Pte Ltd
Quantity Surveyor: Davis Langdon KPK (Singapore) Pte Ltd
Lighting Consultant: WSP Consultancy Pte Ltd
Landscape Architect: DP Green Pte Ltd
Green Building Consultant: Meinhardt (Singapore) Pte Ltd
Demolition Contractor: Aik Sun Demolition & Engineering Pte Ltd
Main Contractor: Hexacon Construction Pte Ltd
Piling Contractor: Resource Piling Pte Ltd
Roofing Contractor: Ava Global Pte Ltd
Interior Fit-Out Contractors: Sunray Woodcraft Construction Pte Ltd; Tat Wai Enterprise Pte Ltd
Images: DP Architects Pte Ltd