CREATIVE FORCES

From homes to iconic spots

HDB project SkyVille@Dawson (left) was designed by Woha, founded by Mr Wong Mun Summ and Mr Richard Hassell (both below).
HDB project SkyVille@Dawson.PHOTO: PATRICK BINGHAM- HALL
HDB project SkyVille@Dawson (left) was designed by Woha, founded by Mr Wong Mun Summ and Mr Richard Hassell (both below).
HDB project SkyVille@Dawson was designed by Woha, founded by Mr Wong Mun Summ (left) and Mr Richard Hassell (right).PHOTOS: MARK TEO

After six years of doing residential projects, the two founders of architecture firm Woha decided: No more houses.

Mr Wong Mun Summ, 52, and Mr Richard Hassell, 49, decided that they wanted to do something more "impactful" and were willing to go without commissions for two years. Both of them are single.

Thankfully, they did not have to hang on for that long. Soon after, they were awarded first prize in an international competition for two MRT stations in Singapore - the Bras Basah Station and Stadium Station.

Bras Basah MRT station, with its criss-cross beams and shimmering skylight, and Stadium MRT station, with its dark futuristic interiors, are now iconic MRT stops.

Since then, the 21-year-old firm has become one of the top architecture firms in Singapore, known for creating statement buildings with bold inclusions of greenery, such as the School of the Arts in Dhoby Ghaut and the Parkroyal on Pickering hotel near Chinatown.

Its staff strength has grown from eight to 90.

After working on numerous luxury condominiums, Woha turned to public housing. Earlier this year, its completed HDB project SkyVille@ Dawson drew praise for its streamlined, nature-imbued design.

The accolades have been non- stop, including the prestigious Riba Lubetkin Prize from the Royal Institute of British Architects for The Met, a residential skyscraper in Bangkok. The firm also won multiple times for the Green Good Design Award at The Chicago Athenaeum and The European Centre for Architecture Art Design and Urban Studies.

Even so, there are new challenges. Mr Wong says: "We used to have more time for design. Nowadays, the pace of work and life is very hurried and decision- making is changing and evolving."

However, he says Woha still holds on to the design philosophy it started with years ago.

"We are ever so committed and passionate about what we do, the people and community that we design for, and the environment - both built and living."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 04, 2015, with the headline 'From homes to iconic spots'. Print Edition | Subscribe