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Niche

Part 1 Project 2010
Edmond Choon Keong Khoo
National University of Singapore Singapore Singapore
In tropical countries with an abundance of sunlight, designers often engage in convenient solutions of extensive mechanical cooling methods, neglecting global warming issues and forgetting the possibilities of natural illumination. Other strategies are needed to remain sustainable and eco-friendly.

Transport costs in Singapore ever-increasing. To reduce costs and our carbon footprint, cycling lanes has been introduced in some areas. However, people have been slow in switching to cycling. I see a need for a bicycle centre to make cycling more convenient and to encourage cycling.

To create a statement, there is a need to elevate the status and associations with cycling. Currently, Waterloo District lacks a strong sense of identity beside the more dominant downtown districts nearby. Having a bicycle centre here becomes an identity creation at the urban scale, making Waterloo District unique.

I chose an area between the art institutions and business industry. At the intermediate scale, I fused two groups of cyclists. I thought of creating a façade of bicycles to showcase the cyclists’ individuality and spark off conversation.

Parking bicycles to create the building façade emphasizes on the ephemeral: the bicycles with environmental factors such as sunlight. Different shadows will be cast to the ground level public spaces at different times, ranging from canopy-like to fully opaque, with these variations hoped to gradually create climate awareness. My structure allows for maximum sunlight penetration, ‘capturing’ the bicycle, emphasizing on porosity and play of light.

The supporting spaces behind the façade help cyclists decide their preferred parking location. My approach in creating niche areas for different user groups, enable passers-by to feel the district’s identity (comprising of the more dominant user groups ‘on-site’) when viewing the façade as an object.

A balance between aesthetics, natural lighting with shadow play, as well as functional aspects like rain protection, thermal comfort and maintenance is done through a thoughtful material selection and incorporating a trapezium truss for the roof over the event hall for ventilation.

By using the bicycle as a tool to promote sustainability, it gives rise to endless opportunities of exploring the use of sunlight, beyond illuminating interior spaces.

Edmond Choon Keong Khoo


Tutor Statement
The ‘niches’ attempts to respond to the idea of introducing bicycle culture to urban centre of Singapore.

The design approach focuses on the behavior of different types of cyclists: the sportives, the urbanites and the bike aficionados. The concept of niches is introduced to accommodate each particular group of users, with their interaction ensured at the ground floor public space and within an elevated bike-parking façade.

Located in heterogenous urban context of Singapore, surrounded by a mega shopping mall, high-rise HDB flats, office buildings and art and culture institutions, the three different niches are strategically placed in response to the local, immediate context.

As a response to the tropical climate, the student proposed natural ventilation of all major spaces, the rain-water harvesting pool and breathable façade, which also serves as bicycle parking. The façade has a triple affect; it acts as the sunshade, it facilitates contacts between users and it reflects the character of different types of cyclists.

The building has an appropriate civic presence, with a porous ground floor for gatherings and events, both for locals and cyclists.

The main merits of this scheme are in urban integration of complex uses, ease of movement and interesting internal spatial arrangements, all of which are achieved by simple structural systems.

Tutor(s)
Dr Davisi Boontharm
2010
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