OMA/Buro Ole Scheeren’s Interlace in Singapore is the World Architecture Festival’s Building of the Year.

Are These Apartments, Stacked Like Toy Blocks, the Future of Urban Housing?

Are These Apartments, Stacked Like Toy Blocks, the Future of Urban Housing?

The Eye
Slate’s design blog.
Nov. 10 2015 11:58 AM

Are These Singapore Apartments, Stacked Like Toy Blocks, the Future of Urban Housing?

The Interlace - key image
The Interlace in Singapore by OMA and Büro Ole Scheeren won the World Building of the Year 2015 at the World Architecture Festival.

Courtesy of OMA and Büro Ole Scheeren

The World Architecture Festival, which completed its eighth annual run on Friday, awarded a vertically stacked housing complex in Singapore as the World Building of the Year 2015.

The organizers said in a press release that the Interlace by OMA and Büro Ole Scheeren is a “vertical village” that offers a “radically new approach to contemporary living in a tropical environment,” calling the building “one of the most ambitious residential developments in Singapore’s history.”

Instead of building a cluster of isolated towers, the architects stacked a series of apartment blocks in hexagonal arrangements around eight courtyards to create both private and shared outdoor spaces on multiple levels.

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Courtesy of Büro Ole Scheeren

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“By stacking the apartment blocks, the design generates a multiplication of horizontal surfaces populated by extensive roof gardens and landscaped terraces that in aggregate provide 112% green area—more than the size of the unbuilt site,” according to Büro Ole Scheeren.

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Courtesy of Büro Ole Scheeren

Completed in 2013, the Interlace has 1,040 apartments that are grouped in blocks of six, 18, and 24 stories with outdoor spaces such as roof terraces, plazas, landscaped gardens, a running track, tennis courts, and pools. It also has indoor communal spaces including a gym, a theater, and a karaoke room that encourage residents to mingle in ways that conventional tower blocks do not.

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Courtesy of Büro Ole Scheeren

“The tower in its generic form is principally a very isolating typology—a kind of vertical silo of repetition, always the same floor plan,” Ole Scheeren told the Financial Times, “but has very little to do with how people live together, apart from their existence in their isolated apartments.”

THE INTERLACE by Buro Ole Scheeren_4

Courtesy of Büro Ole Scheeren

Nevertheless, World Architecture Festival Director Paul Finch said in the release that the Interlace is “blazing a trail with an example of bold, contemporary architectural thinking,” presenting “an alternative way of thinking about developments which might otherwise become generic tower clusters.”

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THE INTERLACE by Buro Ole Scheeren_7

Courtesy of Büro Ole Scheeren

Kristin Hohenadel's writing on design has appeared in publications including the New York Times, Fast Company, Vogue, Elle Decor, Lonny, and Apartment Therapy.