Honorable Mention
2020 Skyscraper Competition

Bryant Lau Liang Cheng

Skyscrapers, as its name suggests; refer to the vertical ambition to reach towards the skies and reside among the clouds. The tallest building often soars over others dramatically; operating as a symbol of power and icon of might. This supremacy is unquestioned – yet the reign is often ephemeral and bounded by the constraints of time – since newer buildings can almost always eclipse this height in due time by harnessing newer technologies or regulations. A never-ending competition for height results – leading to emerging trends of taller buildings that are severely detached from the ground levels and out of human proportion; casting harsh shadows over mankind and existing as a built form of social oppression. In response to these conditions – this project proposes a time-based approach with individual and community involvement, to redefine the notion of the skyscraper as a social apparatus instead of a capitalistic one.

Tesseract proposes an architecture system that allows residents to participate in not just the design of their own units; but the programs and facilities within the building itself. This process is inserted between the time of purchase for the unit and the total time required to complete construction – a period that is often ignored and neglected.  Through this process, residents are allowed to choose their amenities and their communities, enhancing their sense of belonging in the process. Housing units will no longer be stacked in repetition with no relation whatsoever to the residents living in it – a sentimental bond between housing and men results. The architecture system proposed can only be completed and realized by community participatory design; enabling possibilities that go beyond what computational design allows, highlighting the value of human creativity. High rise buildings now become a medium for the individual to express themselves; giving the power back to the residents, instead of being dictated by capitalistic agendas alone.

Located in Singapore, one of the densest country in the world; the proposed design takes advantage of the planning regulations that facilitate Gross Floor Area exemption when greeneries are introduced, by breaking the conventional centralized sky garden down into smaller components and spreading it throughout the entire vertical height of the building. By doing so, the ‘invisible’ space is conceived to cater to expansion in accordance with the lifestyle changes of the residents through time. These conditions allow modular units to expand or subdivide for either rent or sale, providing residents with incentives as time goes by. With this set-up, residents no longer have to move out for better accommodation; a longer duration of stay in their original homes and communities is encouraged, leading to a better sense of ownership and belonging. The volume of verticality once thought of as finite; also opens up possibilities of further intensification through time, akin to the geometry of the Tesseract.

With the added value of expansion through time; amenities that are inserted in a vertical manner are able to benefit from increased frontage area, which translates to more business patronage. This outcome reverses the conventional circumstances of amenities increasing in value as they are closer to the ground levels, due to more exposure to the public. Coupled with the trend of housing units having higher value as they go higher due to better views and privacy; the conditions of verticality in terms of value differentiation is now homogenized: tall buildings will no longer be segregated into richer residents living near the top while the poorer residents live near the bottom. The vertical icon is now redefined as a socially driven apparatus.

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