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The Interlace — from ageing flats to World Building of the Year

angela.teo@bizedge.com

When CapitaLand bought Gillman Heights Condominium in 2007, it was unthinkable that the ageing HUDC estate on Depot Road would be transformed into a vertical village that would eventually be named World Building of the Year. In 2015, The Interlace beat hundreds of finalists at the World Architecture Festival (WAF) to clinch the prestigious prize.

Featuring 31 interlocking superblocks stacked on top of one another, The Interlace was a reinterpretation of the hillside villages of Santorini in Greece, Liguria in Italy and Al Hajjara in Yemen. German-born architect Ole Scheeren, one of the condo’s lead designers, wanted to create something different from the plain vanilla buildings that dominate many cities.

Creative director Francis Chua, who bought a three-bedroom unit on his first visit to The Interlace showflat, says he was drawn to the project’s distinctive architecture. “The architecture is one of a kind. It piques the interest of many people, especially among the design community, who marvel at how the blocks can interlock with one another yet remain functional,” he says. Chua also trusted his agent’s recommendation as the latter’s investment advice had proven valuable in the past.

“The project gained international recognition when it took the World Building of the Year title. Even my brother who lives in Canada knows about the project and was pleasantly surprised to find out I live there,” Chua adds.

The Interlace stands on an elevated site, nestled within a 10km stretch of greenery, the Southern Ridges

 

Photo: Iwan Baan

 

Game changer

WAF is dubbed the Oscars of the architectural world. To win, projects must push boundaries in both form and function, and exemplify the future of cities and architecture. They must also be deeply-rooted in the communities they serve.

The Interlace was lauded as a trail trailblazer at WAF 2015 for its bold architecture, sustainable features and community-centric design. Scheeren has said that the project could have been built as 12 isolated towers. However, he chose to take a radical approach to “topple” the towers, making the vertical, horizontal.

The criss-crossing blocks create pockets of space, forcing wind to travel through them and increasing their speed. This results in a wind-tunnel effect that makes the development cool and windy year-round. Scheeren also placed water features along the wind corridors and made use of the water vapour to further cool the condo.

Water features are placed along the wind corridors to further cool the development

 

Greenery, such as sky gardens and planted terraces, is incorporated in multiple locations throughout the buildings. Together with the extensive tropical foliage on the ground, The Interlace has green spaces that cover 112% of the site area.

The Spa Valley in a rainforest setting

 

The buildings envelop eight outdoor courtyards — Central Square, Water Park, Play Hills, Spa Valley, Theatre Plaza, Bamboo Garden, Lotus Pond and Waterfall Terrace — providing shade all day long.

A 1km running track bordering the development connects the various courtyards and gardens. The track is well lit, making it accessible to joggers and residents even at night. Chua says he enjoys strolling on the track with his mother. “It is cool and breezy in the evening and very relaxing,” he says.

Play Hills — one of the eight outdoor courtyards at The Interlace

 

Photo: CapitaLand

 

Unconventional site

The Interlace stands on an elevated site, nestled within a 10km stretch of greenery, the Southern Ridges. The project is a 10-minute drive from the CBD and 15 minutes from the Orchard Road shopping belt.

The site’s unique attributes present rare opportunities to create a bespoke development. For this reason, CapitaLand chose to partner Scheeren, who has made global statements through his iconic designs, such as the China Central Television Headquarters in Beijing, and MahaNakhon, a mixed-use development in Bangkok.

Notwithstanding the size of the site — about 8ha — Scheeren arranged the blocks in hexagonal grids, which allow for a generous distance between each home and maximum privacy. The site’s natural elevation also enables more units to enjoy unobstructed views.

The Interlace was jointly developed by CapitaLand and Hotel Properties. The 1,040-unit project was completed in 2013. Twenty units changed hands this year at an average price of $1,079 psf.

 

This article appeared in The Edge Property Pullout, Issue 792 (Aug 14, 2017) of The Edge Singapore

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