Great works of architecture can transform the way we experience and shape the world, says architect Ole Scheeren (opens in new tab). Over the past decade, Scheeren has transformed skylines all over Asia with landmark buildings including the conjoined towers of Beijing’s CCTV Headquarters, the Jenga block-like forms of Singapore’s Interlace (opens in new tab), and the pixelated skyscraper that is Bangkok’s MahaNakhon (a set of terraced towers for Ho Chi Minh City is in the works (opens in new tab)).
Returning to Singapore, Scheeren took the stage at the Brainstorm Design conference (opens in new tab) to discuss the power of architecture. Buildings, in his view, should not only be functional and economically viable, but also facilitate cultural exchange and enrich public life.
Singapore is a case in point. The city-state ‘embodies some of the issues that many Asian, and indeed global cities face today,’ he said. ‘As population density increases, the predominant typologies that define urban spaces are towers. Many of them stand in no relation to each other. I want to reestablish context and define a world in which we live in relation to each other.’
About a kilometre away from the conference venue (the Mandarin Oriental on Raffles Avenue) is his latest Singapore project, Duo (opens in new tab), built on land between what he called ‘two completely unrelated buildings.’ The solution? Forming a circular swoop with the twin towers to embrace a plaza that ‘adds to the public life of the city itself, creating a civic nexus for a previously isolated part of the city.’ The concave façades channel the winds, creating microclimates in the courtyards to create more liveable spaces.
Ole Scheeren addresses the Brainstorm Design conference (opens in new tab) in Singapore on 6 March 2018.
With the Interlace, Scheeren avoided towers altogether, instead stacking horizontal structures to create a complex form. ‘From the outside it evades logic, but inside there is a precise system of courtyards and gardens, spaces that enhance the diversity of life,’ he said.
He also used greenery everywhere. ‘If we add the amount of greenery left on the site, plus the gardens we created on the roof, we get 112 per cent of the greenery that the strip of land would otherwise accommodate.’ At the 2015 World Architecture Festival, Interlace was named World Building of the Year. ‘It recognises that Asia is able to set new standards in what is possible in the world today,’ says Scheeren.
More recently, Scheeren unveiled the Guardian Art Centre (opens in new tab), a layered structure in stone, glass and steel adjacent to Beijing’s Forbidden City. Scheeren found a typology that didn’t disrupt the dense, low-slung alleys in the neighborhood.
‘My idea was a base that would be in extension of the small scale of the city. I would put smaller cubes on the site and flow a single volume of glass on top.’ The cubes harmoniously blend in with the existing structures, while the 1700 sq m, column-free space above opens up all sorts of possibilities for exhibitions, auctions and other forms of public activity.
‘It’s a celebration of life in all the hybrid forms in which it exists. History can be an important part of how we build the future,’ says Scheeren.
The Brainstorm Design conference is jointly organised by Fortune, TIME and Wallpaper*, bringing together more than 300 top speakers and delegates from 33 countries. See more here
For more information, visit the Brainstorm design website (opens in new tab)
TF has been editor of Wallpaper* since December 2020. He is responsible for our monthly print magazine, planning, commissioning, editing and writing long-lead content across all our content pillars. He also plays a leading role in multi-channel editorial franchises, such as our annual Design Awards, Guest Editor takeovers and Next Generation series. He aims to create world-class, visually-driven content while championing diversity, international representation and social impact. TF joined Wallpaper* as an intern in January 2013, and served as its commissioning editor from 2017-20, winning a 30 under 30 New Talent Award from the Professional Publishers’ Association. Born and raised in Hong Kong, he holds an undergraduate degree in history from Princeton University.
Seth Rogen is hosting a Houseplant creative retreat in LA with Airbnb
Available to book from 7 February 2023, the LA retreat in collaboration with Airbnb will see guests experience Seth Rogen’s creative process during a series of one-night stays, available on 15, 16 and 17 February 2023
By Rosa Bertoli • Published
‘Brutalist Paris’ is a book that lays bare the legacy of the city’s concrete architecture
Architectural cartographer Blue Crow Media launches ‘Brutalist Paris’, its first book, a photographic study of the French capital’s surviving brutalist treasures and concrete impasses
By Jonathan Bell • Published
Creatures great and small: Matthew Campbell Laurenza’s exquisite naturalistic jewellery designs
Matthew Campbell Laurenza’s insects in precious materials encompass magical forms
By Hannah Silver • Published
The Standard Bangkok and The Standard Hua Hin bring pioneering hospitality to Thailand
The Standard Bangkok, in Ole Scheeren’s Mahanakhon tower, and The Standard Hua Hin, designed by Onion, bring the global hospitality brand to Thailand
By Shawn Adams • Published
‘Ole Scheeren: Spaces of Life’ celebrates ‘form follows fiction’ in architecture
‘Ole Scheeren: Spaces of Life’, a comprehensive look into the work of the German architect, opens at ZKM | Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe
By Ellie Stathaki • Published
Interiors for Ole Scheeren’s Fifteen Fifteen in Vancouver revealed
Fifteen Fifteen, a high-end, high-rise residential development by Ole Scheeren in Vancouver, Canada, reveals its apartment interiors ahead of sales launch
By Ellie Stathaki • Last updated
Scale meets ambition in Vancouver’s architectural future
The latest instalment in our ‘Letter from...' series journeys through the urban future of Canada's ‘most liveable city’
By Hadani Ditmars • Last updated
Büro Ole Scheeren’s MahaNakhon tower in Bangkok launches with floating glass sky deck
By Harriet Thorpe • Last updated
Ole Scheeren reveals design for Barclay Village in Vancouver
By Harriet Thorpe • Last updated
WeWork’s Miguel McKelvey says design is all about connecting people
By Robert Horn • Last updated
Büro Ole Scheeren adds DUO high rise complex to Singapore skyline
By Daven Wu • Last updated