Tahir Foundation Connexion

The Tahir Foundation Connexion is a new five-storey addition to the Singapore Management University (SMU) city campus to support experiential learning through real-world projects and cultivate innovation and entrepreneurship.

“The project set out to fulfil four key design goals, namely: encourage experimentation, enable 24/7 learning, engage the city, and embrace new environment sustainability initiatives,” said Sundaravadivelan Selvam, vice president of SMU’s Campus Infrastructure and Services.

The 8,600-square-metre space includes active learning classrooms, brainstorming hubs, collaborative zones, a dining commons, integrated learning studios, makerspace, student lounges, and incubation spaces for start-ups.

For maximum flexibility, the building has open floor plates—with minimal fixed walls—that can be adapted to accommodate new learning modalities in the future. Learning spaces will be defined through creative use of furniture for a sense of openness and transparency.

The design includes various distinctive urban spaces, such as the North Plaza and the Campus Boulevard, which help improve connectivity and strengthen the relationship between the campus and the city. The North Plaza is designed as a natural extension of the adjacent greenery, blurring the boundary between the building and its surroundings.

The Tahir Foundation Connexion is designed to meet the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) Green Mark Platinum certification and the international WELL Building Standard.

It also holds the distinction of being the city centre’s first large-scale mass engineered timber (MET) development and an on-site net zero energy building, with its own power generated from a photovoltaic system.

Other Green features and technologies include advanced passive displacement cooling, smart LED lighting and predictive smart building control systems.

Fitting all the building’s functional requirements into five storeys, with a building height limit of 24 metres AMSL, on an odd-shaped site is a design achievement.

Due to the small building footprint and limited roof space, the roof canopy has to be extended across the Stamford Canal, which runs along the site, to accommodate the required number of solar panels. This extension also creates an all-weather pedestrian boulevard below, transforming an under-utilised space into a vibrant student street, activated by a cafeteria at ground level.

Given the close proximity of various existing critical infrastructures—such as the Fort Canning tunnel, the Stamford Canal and the School of Accountancy building—construction work and vehicular movements have to be carried out sensitively.

The construction of a three-storey-high link bridge building, connecting Tahir Foundation Connexion to the School of Law over a busy three-lane Fort Canning link road, is also an engineering challenge that requires careful planning and specific construction methodologies for safety.

The site also includes an inherited congested network of underground services; SMU managed to divert some of these ahead of the construction, while the building’s design had to accommodate the rest of the constraints.

Project Name: Tahir Foundation Connexion
Location: Stamford Road Land Parcel A-South 2, Singapore
Expected Completion: Q1 2019
Site Area: 3,543.5 square metres
Gross Floor Area: 8,600 square metres
Building Height: 5 storeys
Owner: Singapore Management University (SMU)
Architecture Firm: MKPL Architects Pte Ltd
Principal Architect: Siew Man Kok
Interior Design Firm: MKPL Architects Pte Ltd
Structural Engineer: Meinhardt (Singapore) Pte Ltd
Mechanical & Electrical Engineer: Meinhardt (Singapore) Pte Ltd
Quantity Surveyor: Rider Levett Bucknall (LLP)
Landscape Architect: Salad Dressing
Main Contractor: Lian Ho Lee Construction Pte Ltd
Images: SMU