Singapore’s new CapitaSpring tower proudly shows off its biophilic heart. The 93,000-square-metre project, by BIG-Bjarke Ingels Group and CRA-Carlo Ratti Associati, is one of the latest in a long line of commercial and residential towers that make plant life central to their architecture. Others have included Stefano Boeri’s now-iconic Bosco Verticale in Milan, Jean Nouvel’s Fira hotel in Barcelona and numerous others that exemplify the trend of landscape merging with building.
At CapitaSpring, this connection with nature is made explicit along the podium, with its large concrete planters, and at multiple elevations in the 51-storey (and 280-metre-tall) high-rise. The façade’s steel-and-glass vertical elements are pulled apart in these areas to reveal the lush greenery within.
In the high-rise, this parting of the curtainwall provides glimpses of a vertical park with a spiraling promenade. This “green oasis,” which grants tenants and residents with access to nature without them having to leave the building, is modelled after a tropical rainforest: “the hierarchical leaf growth of the plants is in direct proportional relationship to light availability within the vegetation layers,” the press release explains.
Large-leafed, shade-tolerant plants that require least amount of direct light are found along the lower level, and trees with smaller leaves are given prominent placement at the “roof” of the rainforest, where they form the canopy. Altogether the tower alone contains 80,000 plants for a total of 8,300 square metres of landscaped area, or 140 percent of the project’s site area.
The building otherwise contains a hybrid program of restaurants, office space and residences; it’s a vertical neighbourhood. The podium houses what is referred to as the “city room,” an 18-metre-high open space that provides respite from Singapore’s intense warm weather and showers.
On its second and third floors, the building has sought to recreate the Market Street Hawker Center – an iconic culinary destination in the neighbourhood. (On street level, the project has pedestrianized a stretch of the roadscape in order to restore a portion of Market Street and make it more accessible to the public realm; this is part of the developer’s aim to support the urban surroundings, which also includes the creation of 600-metre bike path around the building’s perimeter, which connects to larger cycling networks).
The tower’s first eight floors are dedicated to the “serviced residences” and also include spaces for a range of luxury amenities, including a swimming pool, gymnasium, social kitchen and more. Above the residence, a stack of office spaces soars up 29 floors. At the very top, the rooftop park is home to the nation’s tallest urban farm, which produces 150 species of fruits, vegetables, herbs and flowers.
For the latest iteration of an evolving typology, Singapore’s CapitaSpring melds landscape and architecture in a bold new expression. That it does so while also reanimating the tower form is a testament to what’s possible in commercial and residential projects when wellness, greenery and a whole lot of capital come together.
A green, high-rise landscape — and a new public promenade — joins the city’s bustling skyline.