Other Participants: Leo Lin, Chad Porter, Julia Hager
Text description provided by the architects. New York has its row-house, New Orleans has its shotgun house and Singapore has its shophouse.
Like the city, Singapore shophouses elegantly blend East and West, combining materials like Chinese porcelain tile with batwing-shaped air vents with Portuguese shutters with Corinthian pilasters. Constructed between the 1840s and the 1960s they formed the majority of pre-World War II urban fabric of Singapore and are some of the earliest examples of “live-work environments” with merchant shops on the lower level and family quarters above.
So when one of the worlds most influential architecture firms, HKS, was on the hunt for the location of their Singapore office, they sought a space that was as unique as the city itself. Distinctly integrated into Singapore’s fabric the shophouse in the Duxton neighborhood is located on one of the most historic streets in Singapore. With a style that benefitted a studio filled with designers, the building was a respectful architectural choice that embodied the firm’s philosophy: to act as responsible stewards of the neighborhoods that they inhabit.
Today, only 6,000 shophouses remain in Singapore and they are protected by strict historic preservation regulations. HKS felt a responsibility to try to design the greenest shophouse in the country seeking out the most energy-efficient systems, materials, and elements in order to maximize the well-being of its staff. Every system integrated into the space follows the standards established by Singapore’s National Environmental Agency’s 4-tick rating, a rigorous sustainability compliance system. Beyond the wellness and sustainability of the space, the office is friendly and approachable.
The staff eats together, works together and has fun. As the pace of development quickens in Singapore, architectural surprises like this the ties to the young city’s cultural identity. HKS Singapore is honored to receive Green Mark Gold Plus Certification for the design of its office. It is a historic designation because it is the first shophouse in Singapore to achieve such a high sustainability certification. The recognition represents HKS’ stewardship of the environment as well as the city’s culture.