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Best and worst 2015: Design

BEST

• New look for HDB flats

Public housing has never looked sexier with the unveiling of two Build-To-Order projects in the Dawson neighbourhood this year.

SkyVille @ Dawson and Sky Terrace @ Dawson have raised the bar with designs that include lush sky gardens and chic colour facade schemes. SkyVille @ Dawson also has homes that are column- and beam-free so that spaces can be easily customised without wasting materials.

The designs of home-grown architects Woha and SCDA Architects, which were sensitive to the neighbourhood's history and natural environment, were an update of the traditional, blockish forms.


The National Gallery Singapore; SkyVille @ Dawson (above); and SingaPlural. PHOTO: PATRICK BINGHAM-HALL

• National Gallery Singapore

The best restoration this year has to be the breathtaking National Gallery Singapore. The former Supreme Court and City Hall buildings have been turned into an art museum housing South-east Asian art.

French design firm studioMilou and construction partners CPG Consultants have seamlessly integrated the old and the new to create soaring spaces that are works of art in themselves.

• SingaPlural

The home-grown design festival came into its own this year and drew a mass audience beyond those in the design fraternity.

Design studio Plus Collaboratives and creative communications agency Govt co-curated the festival, which took place at the former Beach Road Police Station premises.

Singapore designers mingled with visitors amid their beautiful installations. Throw in a line-up of interactive programming such as performances and a replica of a Balinese house by Airbnb, and design no longer felt alien to the average man.

WORST

• Sky Habitat

Driving down the Central Expressway near Ang Mo Kio Avenue 1, a pyramid-like structure sticks out of the Bishan horizon like a sore thumb. The condominium, which has 509 units spread over two 38-storey blocks, has staggered, pop-out balconies and is joined at three levels by bridges.

If the design of Sky Habitat looks familiar, that is because it recalls Israel-born architect Moshe Safdie's Habitat 67, the iconic housing complex in Montreal.

His other residential project here, the now-defunct Ardmore Habitat, was also compared with Habitat 67 when it was built. There is also a Sky Habitat-style condominium in China in the works by Safdie.

With units costing as much as $1,747 a square foot for a one-bedder when it was launched in 2012, surely Sky Habitat's design calls for originality from an award-winning architect.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on December 27, 2015, with the headline 'Design'. Print Edition | Subscribe