The Interlace condo wins World Building of the Year at World Architecture Festival

The Interlace condominium in Depot Road has been lauded by the international architectural fraternity as a "trailblazer".
The Interlace condominium in Depot Road has been lauded by the international architectural fraternity as a "trailblazer".ST PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN

SINGAPORE - The Interlace condominium in Depot Road has been lauded by the international architectural fraternity as a "trailblazer", winning the top prize at this year's World Architecture Festival.

The residential property by OMA/Ole Scheeren, featuring 31 blocks of apartments stacked in a hexagonal arrangement, took home the World Building of the Year title this evening at the annual event, considered the Oscars of the architectural world.

Festival director Paul Finch said the judges were impressed by its "bold, contemporary architecture and thinking".

"It offers an alternative for developments that might otherwise be default tower clusters. The judges also think that the approach could generate other possibilities.

"You could use this idea and have different building types or different ownership patterns, or change the dimensions of some of the blocks. It's a proposition which is fertile."

The Interlace came out tops after a live judging yesterday by a 'super jury', led by English architect Sir Peter Cook. The three-day event, which was held at Marina Bay Sands, started on Wednesday (nov 4).

The 1,040-unit condominium by CapitaLand Singapore sits on an 8ha site and was completed in 2013.

Celebrated German architect Ole Scheeren started the project when he was at Rotterdam-based firm OMA, but he left in 2010 and completed the housing project under his new practice, Buro Ole Scheeren. His projects include Beijing's iconic China Central Television (CCTV) Headquarters, done when he was at OMA. He is currently working on the mixed-use development Duo at Beach Road here, which is scheduled for completion in 2017.

He was not at the awards ceremony to accept the prize.

Mr Eric Chang, who is a Beijing-based partner at Buro Ole Scheeren who represented the firm at the awards, says the win was unexpected, but he felt it was serendipitous given that a Singapore project won on home ground.

He said: "How we designed and thought about The Interlace came out of the conditions of Singapore. It's also a project that speaks beyond architecture - it has created a sense of community, social connectivity and a return to nature. So it's rewarding to see that recognised."

The Interlace project team had won in the Housing - Completed Buildings category of the festival on Wednesday, beating 13 others including the likes of home-grown firm SCDA Architects, who submitted their SkyTerrace@Dawson, a Build-To-Order (BTO) HDB project.

It then went up against other winners of completed buildings in 17 categories, including mammoth projects such as the Sino-Ocean Taikoo Li Chengdu shopping complex and Qatar Faculty of Islamic Studies in Doha for the Building of the Year award. There were 338 projects submitted this year.

This is not the first time Singapore has won the festival's top accolade - Gardens by the Bay won the prestigious title in 2012, when Singapore hosted the festival for the first time.

There were two other Singapore winners at this year's festival.

Oasis Terraces, an integrated neighbourhood centre and polyclinic in Punggol by Serie + Multiply Consultants, a joint venture team, won in the Commercial Mixed Use - Future Projects category, while Homefarm, a conceptual proposal for the next generation of urban retirement housing by the Singapore office of Spark Architects took home the prize in the Experimental - Future Project category.

Winners were chosen by a jury that included celebrated architects and architecture professionals such as Japanese architect Sou Fujimoto and Lyndon Neri, founding partner of Neri&Hu Design and Research Office in Shanghai.

The Interlace win is a bittersweet one for the festival. This is the last time that it will be held here. The festival will move to Berlin, Germany next year. Before coming to Singapore, it was held in Barcelona, Spain for four years.

From next year, instead of just one big festival, there will be satellite events in various cities, with more localised content. These have already been planned for Dubai in February and London in June.