Waterfront housing bridges Singapore's past and present

Waterfront housing bridges Singapore's past and present

SINGAPORE - While the Singapore River is often recognised as a symbol of Singapore's transformation from Third World to First, embodying both its past and present, few realise how Singapore's recent waterfront housing developments similarly celebrate its past, while providing comfort and luxury to current residents.

Few would dispute that the Caribbean at Keppel Bay is one of Singapore's well-known luxurious waterfront residences. Few would, however, know that it was designed around the historical dry docks of the former Keppel Harbour, which are over a hundred years old and are retained as water elements in the development.

As every apartment building is designed right at the water's edge, "the waterfront is literally brought to the residents' doorsteps", according to Laurence Liew from DCA Architects Pte Ltd, who pointed out that the design was carefully realised to enable all residents to appreciate the outdoor waterfront and at the same time enjoy privacy through innovative design strategy with levels and landscape.

In designing Reflections by Keppel Bay, architect Daniel Libeskind said in a press release by Keppel that he wanted to convey the fact that "Singapore is a paradigm of harmony of culture, nature and the built environment", while "highlighting the spectacular beauty of the setting".

Indeed, amid the hues of blue, the theme of green living also plays a significant role in many waterfront projects.

According to Bernard Tay, senior associate at DP Architects, being adjacent to a water body typically means there is a thriving biological community nearby. As such, waterfront designs must weigh both the positive and negative effects that the development may impose on the existing flora and fauna and vice versa.

For instance, in the development of H2O Residences (by City Development Ltd), a condominium facing Punggol Reservoir in the Sengkang and Punggol area, Mr Tay said the "lush bio-diversity and mangrove trees in the vicinity provided a source of inspiration for the design and the aesthetic qualities", thus the "protection and awareness (of such bio-diversity) became the central theme for the landscaped environment".

These efforts to integrate natural and built environments have won such waterfront developments various awards for their eco-friendliness and environmental sustainability: H2O Residences has attained the Building Construction Authority (BCA) Green Mark Platinum award, while Punggol Waterway was recently awarded the prestigious Grand Prize for Excellence in Environmental Engineering for environmental sustainability by the American Academy of Environmental Engineers (AAEE).

The element of water does not simply serve to integrate various aspects of nature, but also serves to connect people across time and space.

According to Team Design Architects Pte Ltd, the main architectural design consideration behind The Sail@Marina Bay, the tallest residential building in Singapore, was to reflect Singapore's past as a major port of call for cargo ships travelling from the West to the Pacific and vice-versa.

Recently, however, it has taken on a new significance with the conversion of the Marina Bay area to a boating sports venue for events such as Powerboat racing. The two towers forming the sails and the podium representing the hull thus signify Singapore's past and present.

Over in the South of Singapore, efforts have also been made to forge a sense of history with new developments. In his speech at the opening of the 4.2 km Punggol Waterway, which has been touted as the "Venice of Punggol", Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said the "Kelong Bridge", a foot bridge across the Waterway, was built in recognition of Punggol's heritage as a fishing village.

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