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Description:

A simple factory building wins the prize of 2013 World Architecture Festival (WFA), BEST IN ENERGY/RECYCLING, which is designed by Pencil Office.

A simple factory building situated in the harsh tropics expressively responds to its climate through passive design strategies.

Located near to the equator in Southeast Asia, Singapore experiences typical tropical climate of uniform temperature of 32°C/ 96.4 °F, high humidity, and abundant rainfall which creates a highly inhospitable environment for inhabitation. Coupled with 33year leasehold on the property and Singapore’s history of erasure and tabula rasa, the site and context directly drives the architectural formation.

Conceived as a 4 double-story block, a volumetric subtraction is made from its centre to create an open courtyard which maximize natural lighting and ventilation, as well as function as a hoist space for lifting goods.

Citing the mitigation of solar gain as the main environmental component of the project, a service core which acts as a thermal mass is placed along the length of the building that faces the strong west sun performing as a thermal buffer to the habitable work spaces adjacent. A sophisticated trellis screen fabricated in lightweight dryvit and galvanized metal is wrapped continuously as a loop around the front, top and rear facades of the building. The facade composite, aluminium window walls, and minimal petroleum membranes coupled with simple RC construction allows the building to be fully recyclable when the leasehold expires 33 years later.

In addition to shading the building from direct sunlight, site opportunities call for a calibration of the trellis pattern to exploit neighboring park views, while different levels of perforation to adhere to issues of privacy and internal programming. From street level, the resulting façade is an anamorphic pattern which creates an illusion of a taller building, which subtly echoes the client’s ambitions for growth with the Chinese idiom, (歩歩高升 – steady progress with each step), while the material used reflects the client’s nature and expertise in the concrete industry.

Early twentieth-century environmental determinism claim that the experience of heat is a driving force in the production of authentic culture, and likewise this Simple Factory Building is purely a conception of context and function. As much as site and culture allows for the creation of the building, the latter gives back to its surrounding an elegant yet highly functional and performative architecture among the mundane blocks in the industrial vicinity.
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