Studio Class at Auburn University
Studio Class at Auburn University

Dissolving Wall

This project was developed by Ka Wai CHEUNG as a student from University of Hong Kong and was submited to the WAS awards 2017 under the Residential category.

The slab block, or ‘wall’ typology, is a widely used housing type in Asia for its efficiency in providing hundreds of living units in a single slab. The Dissolving Wall re-investigates the potentials of this product of Modernism in the context of 21st century Singapore, where urban densification is becoming an imminent issue, and residual spaces resulting from necessary infrastructures such as highways, become valuable spaces for development.

The site situated in the gap between two converging bridges to the Benjamin Shears Highway, at the junction between the city and the waterfront, raises the issue of how highway infrastructures built for connections, ironically slices the urban fabric with strips of inaccessible residual spaces. The project is therefore called to negotiate between this city-waterfront junction, as well as two seemingly contradicting elements, housing and highway, by re-interpreting the ‘wall’ typology.

Taking inspiration from phytomorphology, this project applies a branching operation to the slab block mimicking the bifurcation of tree roots to significantly enhance deep sunlight penetration and airflow of the ‘wall’ in this tropical climate. The ground condition between the two highways is covered by the cascading ‘branches’ of living units that ‘grow’ across the triangular plot, while leaving sufficient gaps to shield it from the heavy traffic and allow sunlight to reach ground.

This massing strategy introduces new housing typologies ranging from the conventional ‘wall’ living, to terrace and courtyard units, parametrically determined by the units’ proximity to the highway, reviving Singapore’s traditional outdoor living on new vertical datums. Structurally, the v-shaped columns transfer loads from the intersecting beams that also acts as vertical service channels, hence informing the living units’ interior layout. The Dissolving Wall, draped between the two highways, also redefines the ground into a well-ventilated chained network of courtyards, bestowing the optimal micro-climate to revitalize Singapore’s traditional ground floor hawker shops and gathering spaces, into an urban promenade connecting the city to the waterfront.