Singapore: The Lion City Roars


We can barely touch the surface of the science of Biophilia and the disciplines it encompasses, but to give you a glimpse, we present the third of four examples of how different peoples and countries are putting their biofeelings to work around the world. Each of these initiatives represents a way to reach thousands of other people with the message that biophilic elements have real value in the built environment. The more we each understand this, the more likely we are to protect the natural spaces we have left. 

Singapore is a small tropical island country with a big reputation. It is well known as the premier financial hub in Asia and one of the world’s leading financial centers. It is called The Lion City (from its Malayan name) but also sometimes called  The Garden City (for its 358 parks and 4 nature reserves). But just for the record, lions never lived here.

Singapore is a highly urbanized nation with a population of close to five million in about 272 square miles (704km). This land has been hard earned through on-going land-reclamation projects. Specifically because land comes at such a premium, most people live and work in high-rise structures. Since the city is so appealing financially, it attracts some of the world’s renowned architects—especially those with an ecological approach to building design.

The Solaris project is a prime example. Conceived and designed by architect Dr. Ken Yeang (whose firm is one of Fast Company’s 2011 Top 8 Most Innovative in the World), Solaris is a marvel of comprehensive ecothought.

Vertical green urbanism is the hallmark of Ken Yeang’s work. Dr. Yeang, who holds a PhD in ecological design and planning from the University of Cambridge, is the author of the 1997 book, The Skyscraper, Bioclimatically Considered.


Even the shape of the Solaris building evokes a sense of life. From the exterior, one sees cascading landscaped terraces that bring nature to the doorstep of each office. Inside, two tower blocks are separated by a grand, naturally ventilated central atrium.

Roof gardens and corner sky terraces aren’t just cosmetic or recreational, important as those things may be. They act as thermal buffers. The building’s extensive eco-infrastructure is irrigated by rainwater that is harvested, stored, and then recycled throughout the building.


Ms. Siyao He, Sustainable Solutions Manager for Interface, Asia, visited Solaris to give us a firsthand review of the project. She says. “Even though I’m in a building, I feel like I am in an open “breathable space” because of the glass façade that allows an expansive amount of natural light in and the greenery inside.” Ms. Siyao described the eco-infrastructure as a very important part of the building’s aesthetic, saying that the greenery “is designed in a spiral to provide a seemingly continuous flow of greenery throughout the building.” What a lovely thought: the pale white base color of the building blending with all the tones of green inside, gentled by the natural light of the glass atrium and still, the outside visible.

Inspired to Act Natural? Learn more about biophilia and how it influences our design, and enter our Act Natural Sweepstakes for a chance to win a trip for two to Greenbuild 2012.



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