By Clair Hurford
Solaris is a 15 storey office building in the Zaha Hadid-designed Fusionopolis hub in Singapore’s Queenstown neighbourhood. The site was once home to a military base and most of the original ecological system had been destroyed.
Solaris is the vision of Malaysian architect Ken Yeang, who sought to conserve what little greenery there was left by on the site by building on areas that would cause the least ecological damage. The site now provides over 8,000 square metres of landscaped area.
Yeang is a pioneer of ecology-based architecture, a term coined in the 1970s as a response to declining energy resources. Solaris’ ecological design concept allows for all living things to move fluidly between all vegetated areas within the building, enhancing biodiversity and contributing to the overall health of these ecosystems.
Its main feature is a 1.5km long continuous perimeter landscaped spiral ramp that wraps around the building like a ribbon, connecting the ground floor and basement with the tallest tip of the building -with its roof garden and sky terrace. The ramp has a large concentration of shade plants and deep overhangs and constitutes the most striking of the many elements that help cool the building. The landscaped ramp is actually larger than the total site area.
Yeang has previously said that whilst it’s not difficult to persuade clients to shroud their buildings in greenery, concerns arise at the thought of the costs of on-going maintenance. But Yeang designs his buildings to make sure that all of the greenery is easily accessible and doesn’t require special maintenance costs.
Solaris was shortlisted for the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) Lubetkin prize 2012 and has received Singapore’s Building and Construction Authority (BCA) green mark platinum rating – the highest certification in green and sustainable building. It won First Prize – Skyrise Greenery Awards 2009 presented by the Singapore Institute of Architects & Singapore National Parks.