UNStudio and DP Architects recently completed phase one of the Singapore University of Technology & Design (SUTD), an academic campus designed to be environmentally sustainable. The SUTD is Singapore’s fourth public university and is located close to the Changi airport and Business Park. The campus design is reflective of SUTD’s cross-disciplinary curriculum, fostering creativity and collaboration through a series of connected nature-filled spaces.
Established in collaboration with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, SUTD offers a unique east-meets-west multidisciplinary education built upon four key academic pillars: Architecture and Sustainable Design, Engineering Product Development, Engineering Systems and Design, and Information Systems Technology and Design. The campus’ progressive approach towards collaborative learning extends beyond the curriculum however; the campus uses thoughtful architectural and landscape design to reinforce that innovation and creativity.
SUTD is organized along two main axes—the Learning Spine for academic facilities and the Living Spine for student life buildings—that intersect at the Campus Center, a light-filled and multipurpose hub for students, staff, and faculty. However, faculties like the classrooms and laboratories are not confined to specific buildings. Rather, they are spread out across the connected blocks to create a seamless and non-linear network of spaces. Collaborative nodes and multipurpose meeting spaces are placed throughout the design to encourage interaction. “Traditional divisions between rooms and corridors are also dissolved, resulting in flexible spaces and encouraging movement throughout the buildings,” says UNStudio’s Ben van Berkel.
“We believe that interaction is the key to a progressive educational model,” said Jeremy Tan, Director, DP Architects. “The campus enables open and inclusive interaction between students and faculty members from the four academic pillars, through meetings at the various collaborative spaces, such as the Campus Centre. To foster innovation, the campus needs to allow for flexible solutions to ever-changing needs, which is why meeting spaces, classrooms and laboratories can adapt to different arrangements, addressing the evolving requirements of the university as the versatile curriculum develops.”
Environmental sustainability is a prevalent theme in the SUTD campus design. The architects focused particularly on passive building design and used solar and wind studies to determine energy efficient locations, shapes, and orientations for the campus buildings. The buildings are optimized for natural ventilation, shading, and light. The heavily landscaped and green-roofed campus features low-water native species to reduce the urban heat island effect and to counteract Singapore’s tropical climate. The walkable campus also includes protection from rainy season’s heavy downpours and louvered facade shading to shield against the harsh sun.
Images via DP Architects, © Marc Tey