Web of steel

Cables create an intricate design (right) in 268 Orchard (far right). 268 Orchard's architect Raymond Woo (above) was also behind Ngee Ann City.
Cables create an intricate design in 268 Orchard (above).PHOTOS: COURTESY OF RAYMOND WOO & ASSOCIATES, ST FILE
Cables create an intricate design (right) in 268 Orchard (far right). 268 Orchard's architect Raymond Woo (above) was also behind Ngee Ann City.
Cables create an intricate design (above) in 268 Orchard.PHOTOS: COURTESY OF RAYMOND WOO & ASSOCIATES, ST FILE
Cables create an intricate design (right) in 268 Orchard (far right). 268 Orchard's architect Raymond Woo (above) was also behind Ngee Ann City.
268 Orchard's architect Raymond Woo (above) was also behind Ngee Ann City.PHOTOS: COURTESY OF RAYMOND WOO & ASSOCIATES, ST FILE

Architect Raymond Woo's 268 Orchard has glasses boxes that display metal cables

The newest kid on the Orchard Road strip is baring its insides, showing its stainless-steel cable "bone" structure and a glass body.

Night is the best time to view 268 Orchard, which stands on the site of the former Yen San Building, which was demolished, says the architect behind the project.

"When the lights illuminate the inside, you can see everything - the building's 'veins' on the glass - and look all the way in from Orchard Road," says Mr Raymond Woo, principal of Raymond Woo & Associates Architects which worked on the project.

Sitting on the smallest plot on the shopping belt - its site area is 2,875 sq m - 268 Orchard, at its bare basics, is "three glass boxes stacked one on top of the other", he adds.

It is a rectangular piece of land and the building is rounded off at the back.

It is something I have never done before, so I might as well give it a go instead of doing the usual granite building.

ARCHITECT RAYMOND WOO on 268 Orchard

And instead of cubes stacked uniformly, each is stepped back as it is placed higher. This gives the interiors high ceilings at various levels. For example, the box at the base is four storeys high.

Inside, the architect has created balconies at various levels, where restaurants could be placed.

And with many thin, stainless- steel columns running down its glass facade and cables strung from the ceiling and tethered to the columns inside, the steely 12-storey building that is 80 per cent covered in glass resembles a bionic machine.

Mr Woo describes the interiors: "The stainless-steel cables form a cage-like structure in each box, while the cables inside are like spider webs. Inside, there are no concrete columns in the centre.

"It looks a little similar to The Louvre Pyramid in Paris. The cables are so beautiful as a feature in themselves. And they are thin cables, so they don't block the view outside."

The look is a vast contrast to another mall he built in 1993 - the hulking Ngee Ann City just across the street.

Mr Woo calls 268 Orchard a "highly engineered building" that was a challenge to do.

The 76-year-old, whose firm is behind other projects such as Equity Plaza and Prudential Tower, both in Raffles Place, says: "It is something I have never done before, so I might as well give it a go instead of doing the usual granite building."

Ngee Ann Development, which owns 268 Orchard, is working on the tenant mix, though it declined to reveal the list at press time.

There are already some tenants in the building such as the UOB Privilege Banking Centre, which is on the 11th floor, and Vault@268 in the basement, a privately owned high-tech facility that uses robotics to dispense safety deposit boxes.

Shoppers can also look forward to better interconnectivity with the mall next door, The Heeren.

Both will be joined through the basement and by overhead walkways.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 05, 2015, with the headline 'Web of steel'. Print Edition | Subscribe