World Building of the Week

Surbana Jurong Campus

Safdie Architects
2. June 2024
Photo: Timothy Hursley
What makes this project unique?

Safdie Architects’ sixth completed project in Singapore, Surbana Jurong Campus anchors the emerging Jurong Innovation District, the first business park set in a tropical rainforest. Envisioned as a living lab that propels research and innovation, this new headquarters for Singapore’s leading urban infrastructure and managed services consulting firm nurtures creativity, encourages camaraderie, and supports wellness in the workplace for Surbana Jurong’s 4,000 on-site employees.

Photo: Timothy Hursley
Community Engagement

By prioritizing employees’ access to daylight and views of nature, the design also offers open sightlines that promote collaboration within and between teams and engagement in activities happening around the building. The design facilitates a more autonomous and flexible approach to work by providing a range of private, semi-private, and group workspaces integrated with the garden environments in and around the building.

Surbana Jurong Campus also serves as a nexus for community life. Rather than an introverted corporate headquarters off-limits to outsiders, Surbana Jurong’s ground floor pedestrian spine is open to the community 24/7. In addition to 30,000-square-feet of climate-controlled garden courtyards, the public program includes a café and beer garden, convenience store, fitness center, childcare center, medical clinic, and end-of-trip facilities for runners and cyclists.

Photo: Timothy Hursley
Engineering & Construction Innovation

The office pavilions were designed as precast concrete structures whose columns, beams, and floor slabs were calibrated to program requirements and constructability. Although Safdie Architects brought considerable expertise in this approach, the technique was new to Singapore. Its advantages include a more predictable construction time, superior quality control, reduced construction waste, and smaller on-site labor requirements, so the design team worked closely with engineers and contractors to build this capacity.

Photo: Timothy Hursley
What is the inspiration behind the design of the building?

Workplace in Nature
In contrast to the density and verticality of towers in Singapore’s Central Business District, the 742,000-square-foot campus unfolds across ten five- and seven-story pavilions that integrate with the landscape and offer connections to nature. The design team carefully considered the location of pavilions, courtyards, pathways and amenities to optimize access to daylight and views and encourage employees to move around the building, interact with peers, and stay active throughout the day. 

Photo: Timothy Hursley

A model for optimized passive design, the project raises the bar for integrated building operations and is the largest office to receive Green Mark Platinum Super Low Energy status, the highest rating awarded by the Building and Construction Authority of Singapore for environmentally sustainable design. These innovative measures reduce energy consumption by over 40% compared to typical code-compliant buildings. To achieve this the campus: 

  • Captures and harnesses clean energy through solar panels installed on roofs of the western office blocks;
  • Provides abundant natural light across all floors while minimizing solar heat gain through innovative techniques such as light shelves, louvers, and external screens and a fritted ETFE roof;
  • Utilizes the largest underfloor air distribution system in a commercial Singapore development to reduce conditioned space to the building’s occupied areas;
  • Incorporates rain gardens and bioswales to enhance water sustainability;
  • Integrates an EV charging infrastructure to support low-energy transit options;
  • Implements smart building control systems, including live energy, lighting, and water management dashboards to regulate and monitor usage across the campus.
Photo: Timothy Hursley
How did the site impact the design?

The methodical site strategy preserves more than half of the existing green space. Office blocks cluster along a central pedestrian spine that leads to two spacious lushly planted courtyards. The integration of greenery within the building and on the roof replaces the site’s original vegetation. The stepped and cantilevered facade of the eastern blocks allows existing plants to continue growing underneath and around these volumes to create a treehouse effect inside the offices. Seven miles of walking and bike paths connect the campus and lead to Jurong Eco-Garden, a 12-acre park and wildlife corridor. The project is WELL Pre-Certified by the International WELL Building Institute.

Photo: Timothy Hursley
To what extent did the owner, client, or future users of the building affect the design?

Design with and for Users
Surbana Jurong Campus is the outcome of continual collaboration between Safdie Architects’ US office and Surbana Jurong’s Singapore-based design teams. Employees of Surbana Jurong relocated to Boston and were integrated into the project team from the start. The full team participated in monthly workshops in Boston or Singapore to resolve specific design or engineering issues and propel project progress. 

Photo: Timothy Hursley
How does the building relate to other projects in your office?

Generations of Biophilic Design
Surbana Jurong’s campus in nature exemplifies Moshe Safdie’s philosophy, “For Everyone a Garden,” an ethos that originates with Habitat 67 and is a unifying theme across decades, geographies, typologies, and scale. Surbana Jurong Campus features two expansive indoor garden courtyards that provide the public with a respite from Singapore’s intense heat and humidity, and they draw on the wisdom accumulated in designing Jewel Changi Airport in Singapore and the atrium at Albert Einstein Education and Research Center in São Paulo, Brazil. Surbana Jurong’s campus also represents Safdie Architects twelfth design and sixth completed project in Singapore, a self-described “city in a garden.”

Email interview conducted by John Hill.

Project: Surbana Jurong Campus, 2024
Location: Singapore
Client: Surbana Jurong Private Limited
Architect: Safdie Architects
  • Design Principal: Moshe Safdie
  • Project Architects: Moshe Safdie, Charu Kokate, David Brooks, Jeffrey Huggins 
  • Project Team: Howard Bloom, Jeremy Schwartz, Lewina Lee, Lusha Wainford, Reihaneh Ramezany M., Sarah Rinehart, Seunghyun Kim, Tunch Gungor, Zhuang Guo, Dan Lee, Lee Hua Tan, Roderick Delgado, Prashanth Raju, Peter Morgan
Associate Architect: Surbana Jurong
  • Executive Architect Design Team: Ivy Koh, Ahmad Zaky Diani, David Oktavianus, Laura Tan
Structural Engineer: KTP
MEP/FP Engineer: Surbana Jurong
Landscape Architect: Surbana Jurong, PWP Landscape Architecture
Lighting Designer: Nipek
Interior Designer: B+H
Contractor/Construction Manager: Boustead Projects E&C Pte Ltd
Building Systems & Engineering: Surbana Jurong
Environmental Sustainability Design Consultant: Surbana Jurong
Consultants: Acviron Acoustics; Arup Facades
Site Area: 301,000 sf
Building Area: 742,000 sf
Drawing: Safdie Architects
Drawing: Safdie Architects
Drawing: Safdie Architects
Drawing: Safdie Architects
Drawing: Safdie Architects
Drawing: Safdie Architects

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