The 31-storey Singapore Business Federation(SBF) Center is envisioned to be an enclave of Green respite. In this prime central business district (CBD) locale of dense high-rise towers, chancing upon a park within this concrete jungle is a rarity. Previously a public park, the development carries a memory of the park on the first storey. As one walks along the bustling street of Robinson Road, with its imposing built-up street arcades, the relief of an urban park is both a pleasant and welcoming reprieve. These nuances, imbuing the previous memory of this site, were sought to be integrated into the architecture, in an effort to reinstate and retain valuable environmental qualities back into this dense urban condition in the heart of the city.
The development is situated in a tight site that is sandwiched between urban blocks. There is restriction on vehicular access through the service lane. Due to the party-wall to party-wall development in the city centre, punctuations of voids were deliberately inserted to introduce daylighting and air into the medical units. They also created opportunities for pockets of respite spaces to be interspersed along the entire development.
A partial top-down construction method was used to create working space at ground level. Otherwise, a conventional bottom-up construction method was generally followed. Pile raft foundation system, post-tensioned beam and slab construction method, flat slab with drop panel system, self-climbing system formworks and precast U-channel beams were also utilised.
The materials used in this project included hot dip galvanised steel, highly stressed post-tensioned strands/tendons reinforcement, Green concrete for superstructure, ground-granulated blast-furnace slag (GGBS) concrete for heat/temperature control, reinforced concrete, self-compacting high strength concrete (grade 70) and waterproof concrete for water tightness.
The forest plaza at the first-storey public concourse features a grove of Brazilian ironwood trees (Caesalpinia ferrea), filtering sunlight through its crown of fine, delicate foliage. The mural panels reach up to 10 metres high, alluding to trunks of large rainforest trees reaching up to the sky. The ceiling design of organically shaped, cut-out panels mimics the canopies of ancient trees hovering above with pools of dappled sunlight streaming through.
The granite paving of the concourse with its pixelated striations of two nuanced tones of grey and grey-green tiles further suggests the shadow play of sunlight through the foliage of tree canopies, subtly adding to the urban forest imagery.
At the third-storey medical suites and offices, the view from the lift lobby opens up to a narrow, courtyard terrace with a similar backdrop of the abstract forest mural, as if continuing from the thoroughfare directly below and concealing the common party wall that separates from the adjacent property. Viewing at eye-level across this courtyard, a long reflective pool cuts across the linearly planted shrub rows that recall the hardscape patterning at the concourse below. The view from the lift lobby at the third-storey medical suites and offices opens up to a narrow, lush courtyard terrace. Teflon-roofed cabanas are cosily nestled between forest trees and shear-wall columns to create a secret hideaway in the woods.
A long reflective pool cuts across the linearly planted shrub rows on the third-storey courtyard. A linear allée of trees along the pool’s 20-metre length affords privacy and filtered views towards the cityscape. The poolside experience further carries the urban forest concept, culminating at a green wall with a pixelated expression of arboreal foliage. Its visual appeal is doubly magnified when reflected on the pool and lends a magical quality to this rooftop amenity.
Due to the development being wedged between the busy Cecil Street and Robinson Road, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) did not permit any road access into the car park off these roads. The access is taken from the service road off McCallum Street. Viewing this as an opportunity, the frontages facing the two main streets were made pedestrian-friendly, with no cars to watch out for. Particularly along Robinson Road, a water feature acts as a soothing feature for users of the existing bus stop. The design was integrated into the frontage by means of a planter covered canopy.
This project not only serves mainly the office community within the premier financial and commercial hub, but also acts as a space for all. The public spaces infused with dining areas within a park setting are suitable for people from all walks of life, age groups and families.
Greenery replacement and landscape add an area of respite in the dense urban concrete jungle for the office community, not just within the development but for the commercial precinct of Robinson Road and Cecil Street in general. There is better pedestrian connectivity for commuters arriving from the key public transport (train, buses and taxis), in terms of convenience, 24-hour free access and weatherproof connections. It is now possible to move around and across the site from Cecil Street to Robinson Road via the 24-hour accessible covered Through Block Link.
The covered public space on the first storey is a free space within the dense and hectic urban cityscape. This garden setting acts as a respite space for the office community. The space is also able to accommodate public events, family hang-out areas and dining in a park-like setting.
CITY IN A GARDEN
SBF Center, being in the heart of Singapore’s prime financial and commercial hub, strengthens the city’s image as a ‘City in a Garden’ by being conceived as a Green and environmentally friendly commercial development. It is hoped that the design can be a new benchmark for achieving holistic living standards and influence other new developments to follow suit with more Green buildings in the near future. The prominent night lighting design and the roof crown also add a certain vibrancy and dimension to the skyline, especially during key festive periods and celebrations, enhancing the pulsing life of the city.
Project Name: Singapore Business Federation (SBF) Center
Location: 160 Robinson Road, Singapore
Completion Date: 21 June 2016
Site Area: 3,290 square metres
Gross Floor Area: 34,839 square metres
Building Height: 31 storeys and 2 levels of basement car park
Number of Rooms/Units: 8 floors: office units / 10,500 square feet per floor
Levels 10 to 23: 192 office units / 592–1,496 square feet with 5-metre floor-floor height
Levels 3 to 5: 48 medical suites / 689–1,582 square feet with 4.5-metre floor-floor height
Ground floor: offices and medical suites with double volume lobbies
Client/Owner/Developer: Far East Organization
Architecture Firm: DP Architects Pte Ltd
Principal Architects: Lesley Lim; Paul Appasamy
Interior Design Firm: KKS International (S) Pte Ltd
Principal Designer: Kunio Iwata
Civil & Structural Engineer: KTP Consultants Pte Ltd
Mechanical & Electrical Engineer: Meinhardt (Singapore) Pte Ltd
Quantity Surveyor: Arcadis Singapore Pte Ltd
Lighting Consultant: The Lightbox Pte Ltd
Landscape Architect: DP Green
Green Building Consultant: DP Sustainable Design
Main Contractor: Woh Hup (Private) Limited
Images: Ivan Yap (courtesy of DP Architects)