In his book “Dense+Green Cities”, Thomas Schroepfer makes a critical point about looking at architecture as greenery, rather than architecture with greenery. Although no urbanist or architect would deny the importance of greenery, many still continue to treat urban green as an amenity, divorcing it from a more holistic way of understanding, planning, and designing cities and buildings. As Thomas puts it, “urban green must no longer be thought of as part of the ground level of the city, seen and rendered in only two dimensions of a plan. Instead, we must think of it as something vertical, and as such, be developed vertically as well.”
At PARKROYAL COLLECTION Pickering, a hotel in Singapore’s urban downtown, the cascading greenery renders it the primary feature of the building’s elevations, rather than the architecture. The hanging gardens are seen as an extension of the neighbouring park, bringing 15,000 square metres of greenery – around double the area of the site – back into the city.
In fact, WOHA, the architects that designed PARKROYAL COLLECTION Pickering, has developed a set of rating systems to try to measure the things it values as opposed to the indices that are commonly used by developers to measure how well a building performs. The five key ratios include: Green Plot Ratio, Community Plot Ratio, Civic Generosity Index, Ecosystem Contribution Index and the Self-Sufficiency Index. On the Green Plot Ratio, which measures the amount of landscaped surfaces compared to a development’s site area, PARKROYAL COLLECTION Pickering measured 240%, for all of its new and preserved vegetation, vertical and horizontal landscaping, water features, lawns and trees, raised planters, and urban farms.
PARKROYAL COLLECTION Pickering is an example of how we can not only conserve greenery in a built-up high-rise city centre but multiply it in a manner that is architecturally striking, integrated and sustainable. How else can we design architecture as greenery?