Iluma / WOHA

© Patrick Bingham-Hall

Architects: WOHA
Location: 201 Victoria Street,
Project Team: Wong Mun Summ, Richard Hassell, Chan Ee Mun, Dhamaraj Subramaniam, Ang Chow Hwee, Lim Yin Chao, Lim Yee Sze, Alen Low, Andrew MacLennan, Christopher Browne, Elavarasi Rajapackiyam, Johan Hermijanto, Maria Nieva
Client: Jack Investment Pte Ltd
Civil & Structural Engr: LBW Consultants
Mechanical & Electrical Engr: Lincolne Scott Ng Pte Ltd
Quantity Surveyors: KPK Quantity Surveyors Pte Ltd
Media Facade Design: Realities United Gmbh
Lighting Consultant: Lighting Planners Associates Inc.
Landscape Consultant: ICN Design International
Façade Consultant: Arup Façade Engineering
Fire Consultant: Arup Fire (S) Pte Ltd
Acoustic Consultant: Acviron Acoustics Consultants Pte Ltd
Main Contractor: Sim Lian Construction Co (Pte) Ltd
Site Area: 8,920.5 sqm
Project Area: 26,761.5 sqm
Project Year: 2009
Photographs: Tim GriffithPatrick Bingham-Hall

© Tim Griffith

Iluma is an entertainment and retail development, located at the famous Bugis Street area in Singapore, now a designated arts, education and entertainment district. The design contrasts a rectilinear block against a curvaceous sculpted form. The rectilinear element accommodates large, regular components of the car park, retail anchor tenants, cinema and performance spaces, while the curved form accommodates smaller retail and entertainment activities along meandering paths. The dialogue between the two elements is heightened by the architectural treatment, with vibrant hot colours animating the rectilinear block and monochrome shades of grey and white cladding the curvilinear block. Overlooking, overlapping and directing views up, down and across, are strategies throughout the building, inside and outside, to enhance vibrancy, people-watching and excitement.

The building, although contemporary in form, relates in scale and texture to the surrounding neighbourhood. The colourful rectilinear element recalls the brightly painted public housing blocks, while the decorative curvilinear façade translates the varied massing, fine texture, and exuberant, intricately detailed decoration of the historic shophouses into a different expression.

© Patrick Bingham-Hall

The internal activities are zoned in three strata with interlinked central spaces. The ground floor forms a continuous network with the surrounding streets, drawing in pedestrians from all directions. A pedestrian bridge at the second level flies out across the road to create a link with the neighbouring development. All paths lead to the main atrium, a 40m high space, which is divided horizontally into a lower and upper volume, each with their own character, but visually connected. The atrium is provided with lighting and sound for entertainment events and performances. The lower atrium is focused on smaller, specialized retail, while the upper atrium is surrounded by the entertainment activities. Dividing the two spaces is an urban piazza, floated 20m above the street, populated by bars, games, cinemas and restaurants. The third major space is the rooftop theatre and event space, which opens up to open air lush landscape, roof terraces and café pods – Ibiza meets Bali on the Singapore rooftops. The roof terraces are located around a central glazed skylight, affording views back down into the atrium spaces, and from the atrium up to the planted roof.

© Tim Griffith

In order to achieve the planning authority’s vision of a vibrant nightlife district, and to amplify visibility within the bustling neighbourhood, the project features a custom-designed, artistic Crystal Mesh media façade composed of faceted jewel-like fixtures that glitter in the day and glow in the night. The crystal media façade was conceived and developed in close cooperation with Berlin based artists and architects realities:united, and features simple energy-saving bulbs in a custom designed reflector, controlled by a custom designed software. The façade is treated as stacked, undulating strips that overlap and recede, the interstitial spaces forming gardens and terraces overhanging the street. The neighbourhood art institutions have been engaged to assist in ongoing curating and award programs to produce content to animate the façade, and an on-going series of exhibitions and events will showcase the work of local art, architecture and design students.

© Patrick Bingham-Hall

The crystal media façade is a three dimensional canvas on which media artists, art students and even the public can apply fast moving, legible images, text and graphics and architectural treatments, all at the scale of a city block. Over time, this will build a sense of ownership by the surrounding creative community, supporting the events and activities within the development, and making iluma more than just a retail space – it is hoped it will become a true urban place. In the modern city, the urban fabric is controlled by the authorities, developers and construction industry, a power remote from the man on the street. Iluma has the new and exciting potential to give ordinary citizens the opportunity to impact their surroundings at an urban scale.

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* Location to be used only as a reference. It could indicate city/country but not exact address.
Cite: "Iluma / WOHA" 17 May 2010. ArchDaily. Accessed 25 May 2015. <>
  • pathos

    Very interesting in its complexity.

  • shetu

    I like woha, but not this one.
    the reason why I like woha makes me dislike this.

  • Rob.i

    The draw of the site plan reminds me Roberto Burle Marx

  • ryan

    not really my style, but i like it anyway because i can imagine that if i was there, it would be really nice. great work

  • bo

    was there a few months ago, and got disappointed, it has its concept but too much to integrate, too many languages it seemed like a hybrid conflict, the workmanship couldve been a lot better, and worst of all, the function of it being a shopping mall invites ‘add-on’ elements that just juggles the whole concept and ruins the whole intended fluidity

  • toyota lc

    Very cool shapes

  • barnum

    just sophisticated…how can you say: “cool shapes”. no langage, no hierarchy, no meaning. if the complexity, the hybridation is able to bring space qualities, new look on programm relationship,etc…sometimes.but here not. it certainly a big amount of work but not in the good direction. and it is a pitty that some office take the bad slope…

    • qiquan

      totally agree

  • Joseph

    This building looks interesting from afar but once you go up close. One realizes it is a total disaster. There is no way that this building will still look good 10 years from now. It is impractical and impossible to clean.
    Inside – it is worse! The mall is made up of a all these gaudy curves and is not built in a way which is conducive for retail at all.

    Terrible project IMHO.

    • Jason

      I like your judgements on this project!

  • quy long

    too much decorations! Agree w/ abv Joseph’s comment.

  • Hale.H.

    well I think as a commerial complex its quite successful~

  • arnold

    this building: exterior and interior like theatre “decorations”: bright, light and playful. architects wanted to create some kind mood, spirit of this building, of it function.

    well, there’re some nuances, defects, – that I cann’t read at first sign the purpose of this building; at first, I thought that it is a shopping center. but maybe it is better, that it’s hard to decide about the real destination of this building?

    especially I liked the interior shapes on the floor and in the ceilings. very nice and artistic. It’s a bit sad, that the whole building (interior) wasn’t emblazoned/drawned by these shapes..

    I think this building-concept is adapted for this Singapore culture and Nature/urban surrounding. nice and bright (“diamond” facades) example of playful architecture

  • Ryou

    I can’t agree more with someone that there’re too much decoration.
    …I’m not sure this will be ok for every ages especially in singaporean.

  • xirclebox

    cool building –> Iluma / WOHA /cc @feedly

  • Barry Mac

    A folly on grand proportions, a fine example of ‘look at me’ architecture, much like the work of melbourne based firm arm, to many ideas, to many themes, appears far too chaotic to stomach. Architecture should be playful and spark the imagination but this iis just too much.

  • ASphere

    too complex to underderstand in a single glance
    have to take some times to watch it from distance

  • arnold

    to Barry Mac,
    if the two volumes of this complex would be in the same style (“diamond” or “linear”), this building maybe would look more integral.

  • spasmody

    it’s a bit in the spirit of Gaudi, a mordern reinterpretation of Gaudi

  • hk

    The rear red box houses the parking garage, cinemas and entertainment venues. The front block houses the shops and F&B outlets. I feel the commercial space is too little, as a majority of the form is occupied by the garage, which could had been put underground.

    There is still lack of a focused central attraction for people.
    The escalators run up one edge of the atrium, and thus shops at the far edge of the atrium have lesser customer flow, people don’t bother to walk there.

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  • ste

    few months ago i plan to shop there for 30 minutes, but i only manage to stay in the complex for 20 minutes! yes the building looked gaudi, but gaudy inn the same time!

  • foreclosure

    I like this concept, very nice shapes.

  • lye

    this building is a failure that gives way for commercial value to come in and ruin the architectural concept behind. totally dislike this building, and if you have been there for the past few months, you will notice that the crowd is much lesser compared to the busy Bugis Street at the side.