Green Endeavours at Wilkie Edge

Commitment to the environment and comfort

Issue: Apr 2010

Multiple sky gardens at Wilkie Edge provide tenants with tranquil views of lush greenery – providing momentary relief during a busy day at the office
Multiple sky gardens at Wilkie Edge provide tenants with tranquil views of lush greenery – providing momentary relief during a busy day at the office.

Amidst an eclectic mix of buildings of different eras and scales – conservation shophouses, institutional buildings and public housing slab blocks in bright colours - Wilkie Edge in Singapore stands out. It stands out not only because of its three distinguishable façades: the media façade; the silver skin of perforated aluminium; and the textured curtain wall in louvres and glass, Wilkie Edge is also distinguished by its design to maximise the comfort level of the people who work and live in it.

Wilkie Edge – with cut-out spaces for sky gardens and small green pockets that open a dialogue with the neighbouring buildings
Wilkie Edge – with cut-out spaces for sky gardens and small green pockets that open a dialogue with the neighbouring buildings
Photo courtesy of Patrick Bingham-Hall.

Gardens in the sky

From the onset, the architects at WOHA had their work cut out for them. They had to design a building in an area with a diverse mix of buildings of different eras and scale.

“CapitaLand wanted Wilkie Edge to to be part of the exciting arts, culture, learning and entertainment hub. So, urbanistically, we had to address the disjunctions in scale, and ensure that the architectural design will add to the buzz of the neighbourhood,” says Francis Goh, an Associate of WOHA.

In the end, WOHA came up with a design that not only contributed to the buzz of the neighbourhood but also befitting of its location at the foot of Mount Sophia.

“From afar, Wilkie Edge looks like an urban mountain with plants growing on it. We developed a finely textured skin that filled the planning envelope, and carved out volumes that created silhouettes that are in dialogue with the buildings around them. These volumes open up light and air to the form, and allowed multiple sky gardens and terraces to be created at different levels” explains Goh.

Wilkie Edge has no fewer than 14 sky gardens: three main gardens and 11 small ones.

The sky gardens can be found mainly on the third, sixth, and ninth stories.

The landscape in the sky gardens is kept visually soft and light, giving visitors to the gardens a feeling like spring is in the air. It also serves to complement the surrounding modern architecture. Low groundcovers of varying greens and soothing splashes of purple, yellow and red shrubs have also kept the garden spaciously open with groves of Cratoxylum trees swaying gracefully as the wind passes through these spaces.

Ornamental purple shrubs like Orthosiphon aristatus or “Cat whiskers” create the soft and light look in the sky gardens
Ornamental purple shrubs like Orthosiphon aristatus or “Cat whiskers” create the soft and light look in the sky gardens.
Photo courtesy of ICN Design International

“These plants and trees also help to improve the surrounding air quality and reduce thermal heat adsorption to the roof,” says Goh.

Some of the smaller green pockets are private gardens, accessible only by the tenants. These private gardens can be found on the third, fourth and fifth floors of the office block.

Where space permits, planters have also been created to bring the landscape closer to other tenants of the upper floors. Plants there are specially selected for their functional and visual interests. For example green bamboos form good screening to service structures while flowering scrubs like Caesalpinia pulcherrima and Orthosiphon aristatus form visual interests in front of office windows.

Bucida molineti – tiered crown for unobstructed view beyond
Bucida molineti – tiered crown for unobstructed view beyond.
Photo courtesy of ICN Design International

Apart from adding interest to the façade, “holes in the wall” or recessed areas with high arches within the serviced residence block, Citadines Mount Sophia, are created to allow for green pockets. These “holes” also serve as air tunnels which provide natural ventilation along the corridors.

“With these air tunnels, air can pass through quite easily along the corridors so we don’t need to air-condition these walkways,” says Goh.



Lush landscape - a welcome escape

“Hole in the wall” creates yet another green pocket as well as provides natural air ventilation along the corridors
“Hole in the wall” creates yet another green pocket as well as provides natural air ventilation along the corridors.
Photo courtesy of ICN Design International

All these efforts to green up the building have indeed paid off.

“Incidentally, the third and sixth levels were the first levels that tenants took up,” says Goh.

Wilkie Edge tenant, Chio Lim Stone Forest, an accounting firm, was one of the first tenants to occupy a few units on the third floor.

“We like the roof gardens and areas of greenery around the building so occupying the garden floor allows our staff to enjoy the scenery even as they walk along the corridors,” says Irene Yap, Director, Group Marketing & Communications at Chio Lim Stone Forest.

For the tenants at Wilkie Edge, it is a piece of green and relief at every possible corner
For the tenants at Wilkie Edge, it is a piece of green and relief at every possible corner.

Comfort on every level

As a Green Mark certified building by the Building and Construction Authority, the conscious effort to “green up” Wilkie Edge extends beyond the green pockets. Much thought has also been put in to increase the comfort level of the tenants and residents while keeping Mother Earth at the back of the designers’ minds.

Most of the serviced apartments have bay windows that face the north-south axis.

“This is to minimise the solar heat gain from the wall and glass during the day,” says Goh.

For the small number of apartments facing the east-west direction, they are fitted with vertical fins to act as sun-shading devices. The office block also uses vertical fins and louvers, together with the external perforated metal cladding to provide sun shading and reduce solar heat gain.

Skylight gives natural lighting to the indoor atrium space and creates a visual relationship with the atmosphere outside
Skylight gives natural lighting to the indoor atrium space and creates a visual relationship with the atmosphere outside.
Photo courtesy of Patrick Bingham-Hall

Within the retail area, a skylight is created at the second storey to bring in natural lighting and offer views into the roof garden at the third storey. This skylight illuminates the indoor atrium space and creates a visual relationship with the atmosphere outside.

To further reduce its carbon footprint, sensors are used in the atrium to control the lighting here.

“On a bright and sunny day, all the artificial lights are turned off automatically. And on a cloudy day, the sensors also automatically triggers the lights to complement the natural lighting,” says Lim Chiong Kerng, building manager at Wilkie Edge.

Bright yet green

The media façade of Wilkie Edge presents itself as the new communicative architecture of the Bras Basah – Bugis district. But even as it contributes to the buzz in this area, this media façade is also – environmentally friendly.

The huge media surface of Wilkie Edge is green even as it shouts loudly as the new communicative architecture
The huge media surface of Wilkie Edge is green even as it shouts loudly as the new communicative architecture.

A glass curtain wall by day, and a huge media surface at night, it is named A:Amp - an "advertising amplifier" which combines a normal LED high resolution screen showing advertisements, with a low resolution projected LED screen that takes the image from the advertising, manipulates it in various ways, and makes it the scale of a city block.

“In line with CapitaLand’s environmental sustainability policy for its properties, we have used a modified bar of LED lights. Using this low-energy solution to cover its large building surfaces with images is unique in the world because this solution achieved three objectives: first, it creates images that are soft and watercolour-like; two, it’s easy on the eye for the motorists or passers-by because the diffused lights are not shone into their eyes; and finally it saves electricity” says Goh.

So, for its architecture, its commitment to the environment and the value it gives to its residents, tenants and shoppers, it is not hard to see why Wilkie Edge truly stands out.

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