AD Classics: The Colonnade Condominiums / Paul Rudolph

© Cooney-Hughes

Initially intending to design a housing structure as a set of prefabricated units hoisted onto a structural frame, the ideas and visual intricacies of ‘s were developments of the previously designed but unbuilt Graphic Arts Center of Manhattan.

More on The Colonnade Condominiums after the break.

© Cooney-Hughes

Rudolph referred to these replicable units as the “twentieth-century brick,” a means of construction that would seemingly make construction of large scale buildings more feasible. However, as Rudolph came to find upon the time of construction, technical and financial reasons expelled the possibility of the prefabricated units. Instead, the Colonnade was built of pour-in-place concrete, which still successfully conveyed the appearance of his initial design goals.

© De Alba

His intentions of designing prefabricated parts were to fuse flexibility of spaces with a standardized structural system and parts. What became very important in the Colonnade Condominiums was the particular attention paid to the climate and environment of Singapore; the abundance of sunlight was crucial in the layouts of spaces in the units.

The climate of Singapore sustains the most beautiful landscapes and greenery, thus the views from the large windows are some of the most beautiful in the world. The locations of bedrooms and more private spaces are shielded from the sun by the glazed windows.

The massive structure’s floor plan is divided into four rectangular quadrants, each bound by substantial room for vertical and horizontal circulation. Movement under the tower is encouraged, as the units are lifted off of the ground on a series of columns, which are lined in two closely-spaced rows, hence the name of the condominiums.

© De Alba

These columns lift the bases of the four quadrants at different heights; shifting floor planes are a common theme within the works of Paul Rudolph. Each unit is two stories high, with an open living and dining area, a large kitchen, and a balcony. The first floor features a guest room and bathroom, and the second floor houses two larger bedrooms. The precedent of this layout is Le Corbusier’s Pavilion de I’Espirit Nouveau; the staggering of vertical heights and the lofting of bedrooms over the public areas create wonderful views and gathering spaces down below.

Architect: Paul Rudolph
Location: Singapore
Project Year: 1980
Photographs: Cooney-Hughes, Roberto De Alba
References: Roberto De Alba

Cite: Sveiven, Megan. "AD Classics: The Colonnade Condominiums / Paul Rudolph" 19 Nov 2010. ArchDaily. Accessed 25 May 2015. <>
  • nicholas burns

    This is a great building, I have been there many many times and have been touched by it on each occasion. I have a few images if you would like to add them…

  • munter roe

    Breath taking. Would love a walk around this place.

    Complexity with rigid underlying structure.

  • adam

    Just waiting for the standard idiotic, “that looks like a copy of a BIG project”.

  • tDA

    Beautiful building! Especially considering the decade it was built and the rubbish that would have been normally built at that time. Unfortunate that the pre-fab elements didn’t work out.
    Does remind me a bit of Habitat by Moshe Safdie, but it’s by no means a knock-off.
    Can you give us more detailed pics, AD?

  • Aixa Daza

    Interesting! The practicality between prefabricated and pour-in-place is still a big dilemma.