The studio won the competition to design the special building for Nanyang Technological University in Singapore with the brief to create a kind of learning environment for the digital age.
The university staff wanted the structure to promote new learning methods within tutorial rooms where students would work together with the tutor as facilitator.
With digital technologies enabling students to learn anywhere other than universities, the old model of life-less classroom off long day-light-less corridors seemed dead.
A university now more than ever had to exist as a social place to bring people together and encourage spontaneous dialogue and exchange.
The studio set out design a corridor-less building that would make students and teachers bump into each other as much as possible. Instead of constructing a typical big university building box, the team gave the structure a more human scale by breaking it down into individual tutorial rooms and then stacking them on top of each other to make a series of twelve small towers. Every room brings light in from outside at the same time as facing onto a naturally-ventilated central atrium which allows students to be visually connected to each other. In between the classroom are an equal amount of un-programmed nooks and crannies with garden balconies to stop, talk and think.
Choosing reinforced concrete as the optimum construction material for the project, the studio explored treating it like hand made clay; allowing its surfaces to have the qualities of detail and warmth that people would not expect of concrete.
The team worked in collaboration with artist Sara Fanelli and specialist manufactures to develop unique moulds to cast the surface of the concrete panels, creating a variety of coloured, textured and tactile surfaces.
The project was awarded the highest Singapore environmental award of Green Mark Platinum.
Photo credits: Hufton + Crow