CREATE - Campus for Research Excellence and Technological Enterprise

9. February 2015

CREATE - Campus for Research Excellence and Technological Enterprise

2013
Singapore

Client
National Research Foundation (Singapore)

Architect
Perkins + Will

Project Principal
Russ Drinker

Design Principals
Allison Williams, Scott Williams

Sustainable Design Principal
Peter Busby

Laboratory Planning
Tully Shelley, Rachel Lee

Project Managers
Lynn Olechnowicz, Rachel Lee

Project Architects
Christin Chin, Phillip Luo, Haji Ishihara

Project Team
Aimee Chan, Drake Hawthorne, Ram Subramanian, Rosannah Sandoval, Rochelle Milner, Steven Sanchez, Kristin Mjolsnes, Jaepyo Park

Associate Architect
DP Architects (Singapore)

Structural Engineer
Arup

MEP/FP Engineer
Arup, JCPL

Landscape Architect
SWA Group

Lighting Designer
Architecture and Lighting

Interior Designer
Perkins + Will

Contractor
Obayashi (Shell and Core)  Daidan (Interior Fit-out)

Construction Manager
JPCL

Site Area
1,500,000 gsf

Building Area
700,000 gsf

Photographs
Tim Griffith

Drawings
Perkins + Will

University Town is a new campus for the National University of Singapore that recently opened near its Kent Ridge Campus. The large expansion consists of a number of components, including the university's Campus for Research Excellence And Technological Enterprise (CREATE), which hosts the National Research Foundation, among other research centers, labs and startups. Like the campus's other pieces, CREATE was designed around environmental sustainability, with the architects at Perkins + Will responding to the Singapore context in a number of commendable ways. The architects answered a few questions about the project.

Exterior

What were the circumstances of receiving the commission for this project?

In 2008, Perkins+Will hosted a tour of the Clark Center at Stanford University, which R&D Magazine named "Lab of the Year" in 2007. The visiting group included the chairman of National Research Foundation (NRF), who then became current President of Singapore.

After the visit, NRF sponsored a design competition for the headquarters of National University of Singapore’s new campus, University Town. Five international firms were given a $40,000 USD stipend to participate. Perkins+Will’s competition entry included a planning document and model; our team of five designers and planner traveled to Singapore to present our entry to a panel of government representatives and the heads of international universities who would also be housed in the complex. Soon after, we were named the winner.

Courtyard View

Please provide an overview of the project.

CREATE, Campus for Research Excellence and Technological Enterprise, was awarded Lab of the Year by R&D Magazine in 2013. The Green Mark Platinum laboratory complex houses the headquarters of the National Research Foundation (NRF) of Singapore and Interdisciplinary Research Groups (IRGs) NRF sponsors.

It is the iconic gateway building on National University of Singapore’s new campus, University Town.  The 700,000-sf complex consists of a 16-story tower for dry lab research and three shorter five-, six- and seven-story bar building wings for wet lab research, all located over a tall basement that contains mechanical and service spaces, and specialized laboratories. 

The tower and the bar buildings are arranged around and have entrances from a central plaza with covered pathways, seating, gardens and reclaimed water features.   

Courtyard Collaboration Space

CREATE’s mission is to stimulate innovation, discovery and entrepreneurship through the interaction and collaboration of a broad spectrum of scientists and engineers. Drawn from an international talent pool representing world class research universities, institutions and corporations, the unique CREATE community will emerge from the integration of many different disciplines and cultural perspectives.  

CREATE’s Vision:

  • World class research facility in a tropical garden setting
  • Strong interaction and collaboration amongst entities in CREATE
  • Pioneering environmental sustainability in the tropics
  • Magnet for global research talent

Sky Garden

International Research Universities and corporations represented in CREATE:

  • SAP Corporation
  • ETH Zurich
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • National University of Singapore
  • Technical University of Munich
  • University of California, Berkeley
  • Technion
  • Hebrew University
  • National Technical University
  • Shanghai Jiao Tong University
  • NIFE Incubators
  • Cambridge University
  • Peking University

Interior: Microbiology lab

What are the main ideas and inspirations influencing the design of the building?

Interweaving the Ecosystem and Landscape: Singapore is known as the “Garden City” of Southeast Asia. CREATE is an opportunity to synthesize the artistic, scientific and ecological communities of Singapore as a microcosm of Singapore’s burgeoning intellectual talent and resources. Natural landscape played a key role both in the creation and centering of place at CREATE. It is the conduit between the building and program which are woven together through topography, vegetation and water resources. The concept for the soft landscape design is to develop a naturalized tropical forest inspired from the Singapore Botanical Gardens. Our use of natural resources calls heavily on existing flora and fauna of the site, and the restorative lessons of nature itself.

Electric Vehicle Research Space

Capturing Water: Reclamation, Purification Water Management: Rain is abundant all year around, but Singapore is an island nation which imports 100% of potable water from Malaysia. The importance of water is expressed in natural and architectural motifs, creating a narrative of natural and artificial systems that celebrate rainfall. Ninety-eight percent of water used in the complex is reclaimed water, or Singapore’s recycled water called Nuwater.

Autonomous Vehicle Research Space

Diverse Spaces for Social Interaction: CREATE’s mission is to stimulate innovation, discovery and entrepreneurship through the interaction and collaboration of a broad spectrum of scientists and engineers. The CREATE campus is designed to cultivate and harness a strong sense of community. Interweaved throughout the complex a significant amount of interaction spaces in different scales. Sixteen different international and local research Universities making up of researchers from 54 different countries collaborate in this complex. Interaction spaces are key to success of their mission.

100% Daylight: In this location, daylight penetrates into the building 8 meters, so the width of the bar buildings are 15 meters to achieve 100% daylight. The complex is designed in a 3-meter x 3-meter grid following an optimal laboratory module. The tower is three sliding bars adjacent to each other to achieve the same effect.

Meeting Space

Flexible and Adaptable Laboratory System: Because NRF sponsors the research groups for a five-year contract term, it is very likely that the laboratories will need to changed that often. To accommodate this change, all laboratory systems are flexible plug and play systems. As the groups move in and out, they can modify the labs without constructions work which has cost and schedule impacts, and can interrupt adjacent labs.

Sustainable Strategies: Green Mark Platinum is comparable to LEED Platinum in the United States. CREATE is the first Green Mark Platinum laboratory in Singapore. Through energy efficiency, energy generation and reducing water use, the project received this status. See diagram attached.

Site Plan

How did you approach designing for Singapore and how would you describe the process of working on the project there?

Two divergent factors influenced the design approach of the project. Singapore’s tropical garden site was too pristine and precious to approach in a heavy handed way, but fast-growing and advancing Singapore wanted a clean-lined international design to host guest researchers from all over the world. The design of the building, as well as its function, was to epitomize a world-class research facility.

Energy Story

Singaporean clients see international architects as the experts, so there is a respect for our ability to create innovative design solutions. Working with the clients to get the design approved was not difficult, but working on the subsequent phases was a challenge especially during construction. As a local practice, typical construction documents are what may be called 50% CD, but architects are on site for the duration of the construction to work out the details with the contractors. This may expedite the design and construction process, but careful attention is required in order not to lose design intent, and all details have to be finalized at an extremely fast pace.

Building Section

How would you describe the architecture of Singapore and how does the building relate to it?

Singapore is an island nation approximately the size of Manhattan. With exploding growth of economy and population due to expats, its cityscape is in a constant change. Older low-rise buildings are removed to make space for international high-rise architecture, changing the skyline of Singapore every day. Visits every six weeks brought new surprises. The architecture of Singapore is a means to announce that the country is a player in the global economy that deserves to be noticed.

Email interview conducted by John Hill.

CREATE - Campus for Research Excellence and Technological Enterprise

2013
Singapore

Client
National Research Foundation (Singapore)

Architect
Perkins + Will

Project Principal
Russ Drinker

Design Principals
Allison Williams, Scott Williams

Sustainable Design Principal
Peter Busby

Laboratory Planning
Tully Shelley, Rachel Lee

Project Managers
Lynn Olechnowicz, Rachel Lee

Project Architects
Christin Chin, Phillip Luo, Haji Ishihara

Project Team
Aimee Chan, Drake Hawthorne, Ram Subramanian, Rosannah Sandoval, Rochelle Milner, Steven Sanchez, Kristin Mjolsnes, Jaepyo Park

Associate Architect
DP Architects (Singapore)

Structural Engineer
Arup

MEP/FP Engineer
Arup, JCPL

Landscape Architect
SWA Group

Lighting Designer
Architecture and Lighting

Interior Designer
Perkins + Will

Contractor
Obayashi (Shell and Core)  Daidan (Interior Fit-out)

Construction Manager
JPCL

Site Area
1,500,000 gsf

Building Area
700,000 gsf

Photographs
Tim Griffith

Drawings
Perkins + Will

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