OFFICE – GEOMETRY – SCULPTURE
48 NORTH CANAL ROAD
The project brief called for a new boutique office and the reconstruction of a pair of heritage-listed shophouses. They were bought up by the same financial institution who first purchased the neighbouring corner plot (50 North Canal Road, separated by a lane way). In their existing condition, the shophouses appeared to be in a state of disrepair, with visibly leaning structures that posed a high risk of collapse. WOHA was commissioned only after their demolition to reconstruct the shopfront (up to 7.5m depth) in accordance with Singapore’s Urban Redevelopment Authority’s conservation and planning guidelines, and to design an entirely new, contemporary rear wing that doubles the original height. This new boutique office is connected to the adjacent main building by means of an elevated link bridge.
Rebuilding the original floor levels of the shophouses meant that ceiling height within the 1st to 4th storey was limited. This rendered the front end of the shophouses more suitable for meeting rooms (2nd to 4th storey), while its service end was given over to accommodate a mechanised vertical car parking system. The idea was to strategically lift up and plan the open offices within the upper 4 floors (5th to 8th storey) where the floor plate size is maximised, higher headroom is gained, better views are enjoyed and more natural daylight is accessed from the sides. Every flat roof area (5th & 9th storey) is transformed into gardens with the top attic floor featuring the office’s recreational lounge that opens out to a roof terrace. Unblocked panoramic views of lush greenery that rolls out from Hong Lim Park and vertically up PARKROYAL on Pickering Hotel can be fully enjoyed from this vantage point.
A unique intervention opportunity arose from the shophouse’s corner unit placement. Unlike a typical internalised courtyard, the main design strategy was to invert the shophouse typology by carving out valuable floor area to create an externalised, urban, public pocket park at the very heart of the office instead. A ground floor café, as well as break out/spill over areas, informal interaction spaces, discussion and meeting rooms within the 2nd to 4th storey are organised around this pocket park, overlooking and enjoying the greenery and light that it brings to the deep plan. This public gesture also serves to reduce the intermediate scale of the 9-storey building to a more intimate, human scale at the pocket park below.
Project name: 48 NCR on North Canal Road, Singapore
Client: Maybank Kim Eng Properties Pte Ltd
Location: 48 North Canal Road, Singapore 059305
Size and total area: 326.20 sqm
Project Team: Wong Mun Summ, Richard Hassell, Ang Chow Hwee, Daniel Fung, Dennis P. Formalejo, Christina Ong, Eric Barthole
Image credits Courtesy of: © WOHA