NUS School of Design & Environment, Singapore


Inspired by the traditional language of tropical architecture, SDE is designed to be a net zero energy building.

In the tropics, the challenge of energy efficiency is essentially mitigating the force of the sun by both shade and ventilation. For this reason, vernacular architecture in the tropics have used an architectural language of open platforms. These platforms form space for occupation, create shade from the sun and with a lack of emphasis on solid walls facilitates natural ventilation.

Beyond this functional requirement, the building seeks to create a symbolic architectural presence with its zero carbon target intended to be a model example to inspire students and practitioners.

In recognition of tropical architectural precedents, the proposal starts not with the definition of enclosed spaces but with a series of raised horizontal planes. These planes are loosely stacked and configured to facilitate a range of different activities. Each plane is extended horizontally to provide shade for the space below. Glazing that can be completely folded open and uninterrupted internal spaces facilitate excellent natural ventilation.

Uniting these various planes into an architectural whole is a spectacular over-sailing roof which shades the whole building. The surface of the roof is in essence a piece of raised ground thickened at the centre to absorb trees and other greenery. Photovoltaic cells arrayed along the edge of the roof support on-site energy generation and other programs including an open air theatre and a small construction test bed supporting the school’s research agenda.

One of the challenges was to create shelter to mitigate the morning and early evening sun when the sun is lowest in the sky. The proposal addresses this issue through the use of massive screens while adopting green technology and solar shading research efforts. On the east elevation, an open gridded infrastructure of cables and light frameworks facilitate the growth of climbing plants. On the west, the screen is made from a collection of research-based brise soleil designs.

Beyond its obvious deep focus on the imperatives of ecological design, the proposal is intended re-think some of the standard architectural solutions to educational program via an emphasis on learning and research as a creative and collaborative process. The proposal teases out the potential of sectional connections across programmatic zones to set up unexpected connections and encounters across the student body and faculty.


Architecture MasterPrize 2020- Winner
Institutional Architecture Category

IFI Design Distinction Award 2020- Winner
Learning Category

Wallpaper Design Awards 2020- Shortlist
Best New Public Building Category

International Living Future Institute Award 2020– Zero Energy Certified
1st building in Southeast Asia conferred certification

BCA Greenmark Award 2019 – Platinum (Zero-Energy)
New non-residential building

Blueprint Awards 2019- Winner
Best public use project with public funding

International WELL Building Institute 2019- WELL Certified Gold
1st university building in the world conferred WELL Certified Gold
1st building in Singapore conferred WELL Certification

Sustainable Cities and Human Settlement 2018- Winner
Global human settlements model of building category

Building Type: Institutional
Location: Architecture Drive, Singapore
Status: Completed 2019
Design Architect: Serie & Multiply Architects
Project Architect: Surbana Jurong Consultants
Photography:  Rory Gardiner