The primacy of scale in human connections – with others, our environment, or ourselves – is the guiding force behind WOHA’s building designs.
High-rise towers are “humanised” when verticality subdivided with horizontal layers.
For example, terraces and gardens, are spaced nine storeys apart at SkyVille@Dawson, a 47-storey multi-block public housing development. The experience of being able to have a conversation with your neighbourhood across several storeys is intimately inspired by WOHA architect Mun Summ Wong’s childhood at Tanglin Halt, a recently torn down neighbourhood near Dawson.
“The idea of a community in one block of flats is quite endearing to me. When I was ten, I had a best friend on the top floor, the tenth floor. I lived on the second floor. When we made plans to go to the playground, I would get to the ground floor, and shout out to him to come down. And he could hear me, and recognise my face. And he would come down to play… So the idea of this little village of that scale was imported into SkyVille. That was, for me, the distance that we could stretch to create a three-dimensional community.”
In Singapore, the future of public housing is seen as going in two directions – replicate the shrouded exclusivity of private gated homes or design more opportunities for real facetime. SkyVille@Dawson clearly exemplifies the latter. WOHA designed the “sky villages” so that each unit could be seen or heard from every other unit in the cluster. Like traditional neighbourhood life in an earlier Singapore, there is the chaos of community, which opens the door for more trust, care, and security.