Sky-habitat is a thirty-eight storied residential complex that towers high from Bishan, a residential area of suburban Singapore. Though this residential development probes the expressions and socialism of the neighborhood as a society within a high-density living, It dramatizes green pockets of landscape and gardens to help warm sun-rays play with light.

The Sky Habitat
The Sky-Habitat exposing its stepped elevation, Singapore, Safdie Architects (© Liv-in Spaces)

Fact-File of the Sky-Habitat:

  • Architects: Safdie Architects
  • Area: 1,30,000 sq.ft
  • Year: 2015
  • Executive Architect: DCA Architects
  • Landscape Architects: COEN + Partners, USA
  • Architect in charge: Charu Kokate, Jaron Lubin, Greg Reaves.
  • Client: Capita Land
  • Design Team: Howard Bloom, Chris Guignon, Jennifer Hardy, Dan Lee, Damon Sidel, Temple Simpson
  • Awards: Best Urban Habitat, Council for tall buildings and Urban Habitat, Finalist, 2016. Best high-rise building, Council for tall buildings and Urban Habitat, Finalist, 2016. The best building, International high-rise awards, finalist, 2016.
Plan of the Sky Habitat
The Sky-Habitat , Singapore, Master plan and Zoning (© Safdie Architects)

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Depictions of a Hilly Terrain:

On average, high-density homes in cities often cramp living spaces, compromise amenities, and break the relationships with the outdoor. In stark contrast to world trends, Sky-Habitat boosts internal, private, and communal living all at the same time. The complex has swimming pools, playgrounds, gardens, and conjoint spaces for public parties and events. Additionally, the stepped form that resembles a hillside town is a three-dimensional matrix of homes having terraces and balconies. These steps ensure the supply of light and air to every level, making the spaces lively. These units orient differently while responding to the sun, wind, and paranomic views without ruining the efficiency. Thus, this hillside type of development breaks the taboo of an exemplary singular tower and stands apart.

The green pockets that provide an urban and humane fabric within a tight housing (©Edward Hendricks)

Additionally, the ground level above a parking lot has communal walking paths, outdoor areas, and landscapes that strengthen public interactions smoothly.

The Bridging Sky-Gardens:

The sky bridges connect the stepping towers, thus maintaining the porosity and openness of the Sky Habitat. These bridges boost air-circulation and compel the daylight to penetrate deep within the spill-over spaces. Furthermore, the interconnected street-like bridges contain gardens and terraces to aid public recreation and congregation for interactions.

The bridging sky gardens in an attempt to maintain a porous fabric (©Edward Hendricks)

These bridges facilitate shared amenities that are accessible to both towers simultaneously. They reintroduce the concept of a vertical neighborhood of the future and help tenants get more grouped spaces. Moreover, at level 14, the garden bridge and its water features camouflage beautifully with the Bucida Canopy trees. Indoor kitchens and mutual lounge spaces, located adjacent to the bridge, make it a more useful and lively addition. In addition to these spaces, a 40m lap pool spans beautifully, end to end, all along the perimeters of the rooftop bridge. This bridge offers clear views of sun-rise and the sun-set to cheer up people buoyantly.

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The lap pool spanning across the perimeters of the rooftop bridge (©Edward Hendricks)

Semi-enclosed communal spaces peek in through the niches where the bridges join the towers.

Semi-enclosed spaces at the sky bridge and tower junctions (©Edward Hendricks)

The strength of visual connections of the Sky habitat:

The stepped elevation in the form of the chief visual element awes the audience of its magnificence and grandeur. Though a quarter of residential units are pinned along the stepping edges, they personify the slopes effectively. These units have easy access to pent-house type assemblies of external gardens and lounges. In addition to joint balconies, the north-tower skews at the base, making way for more terraces up the way to the sky. Also, a 15-storied atrium hides under the recreational pockets in the immediate neighborhood.

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The elevation of the Sky Habitat
The stepped tower elevation with its external features resembling a hill-side (©Edward Hendricks)

Materials and construction:

Locally procured materials and finishings make way for construction of the Sky Habitat to support local industries. Thoughtful concepts and pre-planned executions of cast-in-place concrete structure the tower, finished by a coat of paint. Furthermore, the structural assembly of a flat slab and column-free junctions give the flexibility of planning and spatial configurations. Thus, perforated walls with large openings of about 3m in width and height were possible. Consequently, concrete lifts and stair cores work as a team with periodic shear walls to stabilize the building.

The sky bridges in steel were prefabricated first on the ground and then were hoisted and put in place. Thus, minor works and quality control inspections with additional tests had completed on the ground level itself. In return, the height-related construction jobs lessened drastically and, the safety and security of the site enhanced. The bridges occupied a huge chunk of the mass, each being about 30m long and weighed 250 tonnes. Thus, a massive lifting system was required to hoist them into position and help resist the wind loads of such towering heights. These hindrances made the design of the 38-storied complex even challenging, especially with the weight of the 1.2m pool.

The prefabricated sky bridges hoisted to positions (©Edward Hendricks)

The wall construction:

The walls are splayed and stepped in sections to ensure more wind resistance to the unobstructed breezes. These walls, held together by the tension-compression concepts, ensure even distribution of loads from the 14th section to the ground level. This concept personifies the system of earthing in structural steel. The load transmission process within the building, aided by high-quality steel trusses coupled with concrete walls at fundamental junctions, proves helpful. They transfer gigantic loads from the upper floors to the foundation below.

Building information modelling (BIM), used heavily during design discussions, helped visualize the large scale of design execution and remove discrepancies. Not only did it facilitate design constraints relating to the integrity of pool bases, but, also assisted the structure of walls. It took care of the restraints related to drainage, ceiling space, safety barriers, and relative bridge structural movements. BIM enhanced the functioning of temporary works like lifting platforms, hoisting systems, and scaffolding. The structure’s contractor could manage the construction, delivery, and installation of sky bridges because of models assisted by BIM software. Thus, BIM played a significant role in the execution of the Sky Habitat by Safdie architects.

The foundation system of the Sky Habitat:

The structure, supported by 470 bored piles of 800mm, 1000mm, 1200mm, and 1500mm, responds to the deep castings underneath. There are 184 bored piles designed to reduce tension stresses resulting from the hydro static water pressures. The Sky Habitat basement, surrounded by a series of compact skin walls, features Contiguous bored piles or CBPs. Each of them measures about 600mm in diameter and forms the basement perimeter foundation walls. These walls offer the safest solutions to control ground movements and excavation deformity.

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The landscaping elements:

Landscapes characterize the interiors and the external spill-over spaces of the Sky Habitat as an added visual feature. The architecture portrays a wide variety of tropical planting, co-ordinated systematically between the shaded gardens and areas of the water garden. The complex has two huge swimming pools, intricately designed for landscape features. A 50m lap pool hides between the palms, while a second leisure pool has a shaded palm island for children. Apart from the building shades, tree-planting and gardens feature on the outdoor kitchens and barbecue areas too.

The Sky Habitat's lap pool
The lap pool with small islands featuring the palm trees (©Edward Hendricks)

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