Saturday, April 3, 2010

Reflections at Keppel Bay: Embracing the curves

Good architecture is ‘wondrous and fulfils new desires’, says Polish-American architect Daniel Libeskind.

His first project in Singapore, Reflections at Keppel Bay, meets those criteria.

Almost 98 per cent of its 700 released units had been sold as of last month, with prices starting from $2 million. It has a total of 1,129 units.

It is not just its location by the waterfront that makes it appealing. Its curvaceous design also makes it spectacular and unusual.

Developed by Keppel Land, Reflections has six curved glass towers from 24 to 41 storeys high and 11 villa apartment blocks with six to eight storeys. It was launched in 2007 and is expected to be completed by 2012.

The curved structures, Libeskind says, came about as the space was ‘thought from inside out. Every unit is in a unique space. You don’t feel anyone living on top or below you’.

Looking at the towers, the floors look slanted due to the curved facade but he says with a laugh: ‘I assure you they are flat.’

The architect has also done away with balconies for its towers. Instead, units come with full-height glass windows that have clear views of the city and Sentosa.

‘There is no need for balconies in high- rise living as there are fantastic views around,’ says Libeskind, who was in Singapore last month for the topping-off ceremony for a tower block at Reflections.

He is pleased with the project’s progress – it is turning out to be what he planned.

‘With architecture, it is precise, there is no substitute for a building. You can’t just see it in models or drawings,’ he says, adding that Reflections comprises ‘handcrafted buildings that are not mass-produced’.

Indeed the design is a challenge for the local building team: With floors of different sizes, the builders have to make sure that the core of the buildings is straight, so that lifts can travel smoothly.

Reflections’ unusual design has polarised the local architecture fraternity.

Dr Erwin Viray, assistant professor of architecture at the National University of Singapore, likes it, saying in an earlier report that ‘the towers appear as if they are moving and dancing’.

A detractor is veteran architect William Lim, who has said the ‘design is cutting-edge, experimental and you could even say it is gimmicky. Personally, it is not my cup of tea’.

Libeskind, 64, is famed for designing the Jewish Museum in Berlin and is also the master planner for New York’s Memory Foundations, as the World Trade Center master plans are called.

He is unfazed by the negative comments about Reflections. When architects design something unprecedented, he reasons, there is bound to be some criticism.

‘Those architects who dislike Reflections will shake their heads in a different manner in a few years.’

Whether or not that will happen, he is sure of one thing. ‘It will be very hard for others to imitate this.’

Source: Straits Times, 3 Apr 2010

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