The EDITT Tower by Dr. Ken Yeang

If you have ever visited Singapore, you know that it is a unique experiment in the natural projection of one possible global development: with little land and lots of people, it is the epitome of the urban migration scenario. The importance of ecologically sound urban planning and architectural design takes on a special importance in this environment.

Rising to this challenge, Dr. Yeang's proposal for the EDITT Towers won the 1998 competition for Ecological Design in the Tropics and the building will be realized at the junction of Waterloo Road and Middle Road in Singapore. Dr. Ken Yeang's work is featured in the brand new Eco-Design Handbook .
The EDITT Tower is co-sponsored by the Urban Redevelopment Authority and the National University of Singapore. The project will rehabilitate a site classified as "zero-culture": a completely urban, non-organic site at which the natural ecosystem has been completely devastated.

The project design integrates green space to human-use area in the ratio of 1:2. A particularly important point in the design of the organic components is the survey of plant life in the neighborhood of the building to ensure that the plants incorporated in the building project do not compete with indigenous species. The organic spaces are intended also to ramp up from the street level to the top of the building, effectively integrating the sky-scraper's 26 stories into the surface landscape. This extension of the horizontal plane into the vertical space is further promoted by drawing the street-level shops and pedestrian activities up to the sixth floor along the system of landscaped ramps.

Aspects of the potential life cycle of a skyscraper have been taken into account, ensuring that the building can flexibly adapt to alternative uses and that materials can be easily recovered during refitting. Techniques used in the EDITT project include moveable partitions, removable floors and mechanically jointed (as opposed to bonded) construction.

The building will have over 55% water self-sufficiency based on collection or rainwater and water reuse relying on built-in filter systems. In a country which captures less than 60% of its own fresh water needs and is currently reliant on its neighbor, Malaysia, for water, this is an especially important feature. The EDITT tower will achieve almost 40% energy self-sufficiency through a system of solar panels. Additionally, sewage will be reclaimed to fertilizer and built in waste hoppers will drop separated waste streams to the basement to facilitate recycling. Comfort levels for occupants will be ensured by a mixture of options, including architectural elements designed to direct wind for ventilation and ceiling fans with water misters to minimize refrigerant based air conditioning.

The architects have completed a study of the embodied energy and greenhouse-gas efficiency of the building materials as well, but have opted in some cases for higher energy intensity construction materials, especially the solar panels due to their payback in energy during the life of the building and recyclable building materials such as steel and aluminium. Composite timber-floor cassettes will replace the commonly used concrete floors to achieve gains in energy-efficient construction.

Promising to explore novel concepts such as inflatable air bags as wind fins to improve ventilation and modify wind loads; natural ventilation of the toilet areas hung on the edges of the building; and water collection scallops along the sides of the building, this is one skyscraper to watch. Dr. Yeang is among the leaders who seek to prove not only that wind, rain, sun and nature can and should be in harmony with human development, but that the ecologically balanced urban environment is itself a living breathing organism. [by © C. Lepisto]