Sunday, May 2, 2010

'Skyrise greenery' reaching new heights

Architects report growing demand for green spaces on rooftops and decks

More building owners are going to great heights - such as the rooftop - to go green.

This trend has the official nod. The Government hopes to see some 50ha of such 'skyrise greenery' by 2030, architects say.

The concept refers to greenery integrated into building structures, like rooftops, walls and sky terraces. It can make a skyline striking when it adorns high-rise blocks.

While there are no figures on how much skyrise greenery there is now, architects say they are getting more requests for their designs to incorporate the concept.

A Singapore Institute of Landscape Architects spokesman said that, given the land scarcity and competition for space, 'the logical solution is to integrate greenery onto built structures, for instance, on roofs, skyrise decks and even building facades'.

There are even annual awards, jointly organised by the Singapore Institute of Architects and National Parks Board (NParks), to promote and recognise the greening of high-rise developments.

Known as the Skyrise Greenery Awards, this year's awards - the third edition - were open for submissions last month.

Said Mr Tai Lee Siang, a director at DP Architects: 'Skyrise greenery is a trend here due to the high density of our developments, where green spaces are desirable and it is insufficient to depend only on ground-level green space.'

Mr Vincent Koo, managing director of DCA Architects, which designed the greenery at One George Street office building, said it also uses skyrise greenery for its other projects like Reflections at Keppel Bay and Marina Bay Residences.

The 23-storey One George Street, in South Bridge Road, won a Skyrise Greenery Award in 2008.

Mr Ng Cheow Kheng, assistant director of Streetscape (Projects) for NParks, said even schools are introducing greenery in their buildings.

He said skyrise greenery can have benefits such as improving air quality by absorbing airborne particles, reducing energy cooling costs and increasing property values.

The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) and NParks have a series of incentives to promote skyrise greenery.

The URA's Lush (Landscaping for Urban Spaces and High-Rises) programme encourages developers of high-rise buildings to incorporate greenery from the ground level upwards.

NParks' Green Roof Incentive Scheme encourages owners of existing buildings to green their rooftops.

Malls, too, are heeding the call.

DLQ Design director Lena Quek said DLQ was commissioned to design two sky gardens, with trees and water plants, for the Orchard Central mall. Its design won the first prize in the Skyrise Greenery Awards last year.

VivoCity won an award for its rooftop garden designed by DP Architects in 2008.

DP Architects' senior associate, Mr Paul Appasamy, said many condominium projects being built and launched have sky terraces, as do office buildings in the heart of the Central Business District, such as NTUC Tower in Collyer Quay.

Even Sri Geylang Serai, a public housing development, now has a landscaped deck area on the roof of its multistorey carpark.

Said a Singapore Institute of Architects spokesman: 'People will want to live or work amid well-designed and well-implemented skyrise greenery, therefore it does enhance the value of the property.'

Source: Sunday Times, 2 May 2010

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