Client: Institute of Mental Health
Site Area: 4,262.16 m2
Text description provided by the architects. To create a contemporary office environment geared towards raising work satisfaction amidst daily pressures of job demands – this is the premise on which our proposal for IMH's new administration building stems from. Providing ample 'break-out' spaces for relaxation, recreation and socialisation in the form of collaborative link bridges, the proposed building form provides users with the opportunity to 'momentarily detach' from work and engage in brief activities of 'play' for a quick recharge.
Two 4-storey 'open plan' floor plates are linked by staff collaborative spaces spanning across the two blocks. Staggered across floors, these collaborative link bridges define each floor uniquely, implying varied patterns of circulation to add interest and non-conformity to daily routines. An 'open plan' for maximum flexibility in accommodating various spatial permutations (comprising components such as senior staff offices, junior staff cubicle spaces and nomadic hot-desking zones) is achieved by locating the lift and staircase cores at the ends of the blocks.
The collaborative linkways criss-crossing the central semi-outdoor courtyard form focal points from the entry drop-off, presenting a vibrant outlook for the administration building, as well as demonstrate a welcome openness to the surroundings. Such a breakdown of the building massing also facilitates a sustainable mode of passive climactic control, enabling natural ventilation to channel through the in-between courtyard space. A comfortable micro-climate is set up within this courtyard space, encouraging user participation throughout the day.
The proposed 12-metre building depth allows natural daylight to readily permeate the building interiors, decreasing reliance on mechanical means of lighting and offering long-term savings on energy consumption. The availability of natural daylight throughout the building interior boosts staff morale by bringing the outdoors in closer reach to every user.
CAPITALISING ON EXISTING LAND PROFILE
The office blocks are raised on a landscape deck – over which the sunken carpark is tucked – to capitalise on the existing drop in the land profile. Without the need for basement excavation, there can be significant savings in both construction time and cost. This ensures timely project delivery, as well as allowing a larger portion of the construction budget to be allocated to areas that would have a greater positive impact on user experience.
The administration building deftly hovers above the landscape deck, a miniature urban oasis. Lush planting around the sunken carpark softens the edges of the raised landscape deck, and contributes to the overall greening of the IMH compound.
INTEGRATION WITH EXISTING SITE
A dialogue with surrounding existing buildings is achieved by interpreting the familiar vernacular expression of pitched roof forms clad in terracotta tiles in a revitalised manner – making use of aluminium trellis screens in a similar brick-red hue as an environmental filter that both diffuses natural light entering the building and provides shielding from the western sun. This articulated facade serves to create a strong identity for the administration building, and facilitates way- finding for visitors.
The 4-storey building massing acts as an intermediary scale between the sprawl of predominantly single-storey buildings and future more high-rise developments. This compact site layout caters for phased development, allowing part of the land parcel to be set aside for possible future expansion of the administration building.
Efficient integration of the sunken carpark within the footprint of the administration building minimises hard paved areas and frees up more ground for landscaping. Thoughtful planning of the carpark layout enables a connection to the temporary surface carpark proposed to be built next to the new administration building, consolidating parking areas for the convenience of users.