In 1967, Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew announced his desire to transform Singapore into a “garden city.” This was a radical shift from the “traditional” glass and metal towers that engulfed the city and a shift toward a city with dense greenery and clean surroundings. The hope was to make life more enjoyable for the city’s citizens and to present Singapore as a utopian, green, well-organized city that would beckon forth tourists and investments.
Recently, Heatherwick Studio used this inspiration to build their first residential project in Asia. EDEN is a 104.5-metre-tall apartment building comprised of a vertical stack of homes that each have a private garden. This ultra-luxurious building hopes to evoke feelings from the past… those of the area’s nineteenth-century homes that are part of a lush tropical setting.
One thing that was very important was to consider the environment’s year-round humidity. Each apartment has 270 degree views and its own private space, as reminiscent of the 1930’s “black and white” houses. Heatherwick says (courtesy of Galerie Magazine), “Those are some of the most precious places to live in the city. We set the goal of making sure every apartment in Eden had the benefits of a garden.”
The building is 343-feet tall; each of the twenty residences is filled with greenery that cascades down from a balcony that resembles flower petals. The greenery is sourced from local plant dealers and from suppliers in neighboring countries such as Malaysia and Thailand. Undulating down, the plants have a way of adhering unit to unit. The architect said, “The typical plant species form a kind of kinetic stained glass in the breeze.”
The tower’s concrete facade is earth-colored, matching the shapes and lines of Singapore’s topography; the lush gardens are a perfect way to soften the seemingly harsh exterior. In addition to their beauty, the balcony gardens provide solar shading all while the plants naturally absorb rainwater and filter out pollutants.
Inside, small individual rooms and biomorphic balconies surround large central living spaces. The conventional, rectangular apartment layout was altered, Heatherwick’s design places the bedrooms and service areas on the apartments’ perimeters, opening up the central space to allow for plenty of light and a large living area. Equally as important is that there is a seamless flow between the inside spaces and the balconies. Mat Cash, Heatherwick Studio partner and group leader on the project told Surface Magazine, “We deliberately tried to blur those thresholds and not have a defined edge.”
Color and material played a very important part in giving EDEN a unique personality. The facade’s dark oak color is in line with a color naturally occurring in nature, rather than with complimenting nearby skyscrapers. In addition, the color complements the concrete and that will “age well” in the hot Singaporean sun. Interestingly, more than one hundred shades of deep reds, purples, and browns were tested prior to finding the perfect hue.
The ground-level entrance is essentially a canyon-like corridor that is 1.5 meters wide and more than 15 meters high. Furthermore, it is entirely clad in black granite. As you reach the end of the corridor, you enter a 18-meter-high lobby at the building’s center that is adorned with living plant chandeliers. The illustrious design for this space was made possible by raising the first apartments 27 meters above street level. In addition to providing vital space for an elevated lobby, it allows for all apartments to be privy to gorgeous views.
The interior details do not disappoint… and everything accounts for creating a “sense of warmth.” We love that the organic materials remain natural and are not honed to perfection. A perfect example are the imprints revealed in the 180 million-year-old Jura limestone. Thankfully, the handmade parquet was not scrubbed free of the saw marks. Finally, the balcony floor is inlaid with a textured herringbone slate that flows naturally from the wooden herringbone pattern inside. Perfectly imperfect… but really, entirely perfect!