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Perspective of The Tembusu with sky gardens and lush landscape weaving around the three superblocks (Photo by Darren Soh).


[From the architect]

Our project transforms the high-rise condominium typology by wrapping gardens on the building façade to create the sensation of a low-rise apartment living. The towers of trees use figurative threads and concrete forms to express the qualities of softness. This creates a distinctive identity that recalls the site’s garment factory origin.

The project site is the original area where the parent company was; the client desired for the project to preserve the values of its historical enterprise as a garment business. The Client envisioned the project to not just be a typical residential project, but a development that provides distinctive identity and experience to the homeowners, be it within the home or around the development. There will be 337 homes are to be built on the 1.32 hectare site. 

Community weaving and social interactions are one of the key elements in the development, creating interesting spaces to enhance the community interaction at different levels in the development. The communal spaces has to be educational yet fun, relaxing and promotes social bonding. As the development was surrounded by low-rise landed areas, we were inspired to create a hybrid high-rise apartment that felt like a low-rise environment of being close to the ground.

More than just hosting community life, the client also saw the project as an ecological project. The architecture is closely integrated with the landscape with ecological functions designed into its water and softscape.


Perspective from Tampines Road (Photo by Darren Soh).




a. What was the design ethos for the project?
The design is framed by the believe the built environment affects the sense of belonging and community spirit.

● Nature: Create close connection with nature in varying scales. From the small window garden and balcony gardens to the large sky gardens and environmental decks, nature is freely accessible, complex and varied. Natural light and air to flow freely through the building and in all spaces. The project strives to return the ecological functions of nature back to the site.
● Communal Spaces: Gradients of spaces with different degrees of privacy and open spaces are created. Spaces of different scales are needed for groups of different sizes to create a strong spatial identity and allow as many semi-public private spaces as possible. 
● Connected: Spaces are created to be convenient, complete and connected — the more connections there are, the greater the opportunities for encounters and socialising.
● Identity: Memorable visuals and spatial identities are created: distinctive features that the community can be proud of and that they love to associate themselves with. This forms talking points among social contacts.

● Energy: The design uses simple and elegant expressions and is buildable and efficient. It is easy to maintain, safe and provides a sense of security. 

b. What was your design process or approach?

We imagine the project as three interconnected tower of trees with a “thick skin”. The skin is an assemblage of thin and tall columns and visually light decks carrying columnar trees and tall vines growing on vertical cables. The skin is a lush walking garden that optimises views from the units, creates a rain shield and provides deep sun shading for the units. We visualised and imagined that the architecture and the landscape have to embody the qualities of softness and layering, serve as abstracts of the act of weaving to form a tapestry of forms, colours and textures that gives the architecture a conceptual connection back to the origin of the site as a garment factory. The skin is an environmental mediator as well as a powerful expression of the projects identity.

The blocks are organised so that all units face north or south, thus avoiding sun exposure. The landscape creates a ‘forest’ like setting interweaving nature with the built setting. The site is visualised as a large expanse of planted surface with distinct clearings formed by the activity zones. The clearings are linked together through densely planted forest walks. The idea of stratification is expressed through the densely planted first storey with thinning out of planting surfaces as one rises above towards the sky terraces at upper storeys. The planting is physically extended on the façade through delicate thread-like filaments that serve as supports for epiphytes and creepers to hold on to. By doing so, the landscape is brought even closer to every residential units.

Water is a key element in a natural forest setting and the most significant source for its sustainability. Extending this idea to the built environment, the landscape aims at a water-sensitive design approach of efficient management of rainwater. The rainwater drainage system is integrated into the landscape so it forms a water remediation system that captures and filters water in the landscape. The water features serve as catchment / retention basins during heavy rains, retaining it for an extended period as display and then releasing it into the system. The rising and falling of water levels along the forest walk in the streams and ponds lend a dynamic and ever-changing landscape simulating a natural setting.

Sky bridges at 6th and 12th storey connecting sky gardens of every block (Photo by Darren Soh).

4. What are the outcomes of your project?

● Nature: The greenery in the project is thriving. One concern during the design phase was how well would the vines would take to the sky gardens. Plants were carefully selected to create a sense of lushness but not block the views from the apartment. The spaces in the development is very comfortable — bright, airy and cool throughout the day. The architecture and landscape blend seamlessly together.
● Public spaces: The are private enclosed spaces and balconies fronting the sky gardens have become outdoor extensions of the units. The landscape successfully mediates the varying degrees of public and private life within the community.
● Connectedness: The project is connected, intuitive and inclusive.
● Identity: The sky gardens and outer skin create a visual identity that has a distinctive urban image with the finer details and patterns at human scale.


17th storey sky units with semi-private enclosed space and gardens (Photo by Darren Soh).


5. Raising Quality of Life

The wellness of inhabitants was considered during the design process. The building blocks are all aligned to face the north and south direction to maximise solar experience. The layout of the blocks is carefully thought through in order to maximise distant views for the units. In addition to that, the vertical filaments of creepers and vines of different varieties create a totally new soft, living façade, effectively reduce the harshness of the tall vertical steel columns and indirectly act as a giant environmental filter.

These vertical landscapes have effectively blur out the public and private boundaries within the community, which promotes greater social interaction among residents. Other than that, community weaving is also promoted through some facilities, such as community herb gardens on the 18th storey, 6th storey sky pods and 1st storey pavilions. A
n additional 6,000 square metres of communal space was created for the project.

Overall, we have created and designed a sustainable built environment that is in harmony with its setting, one that integrates the landscape elements (including water bodies) into the design effectively. 

Vertical filaments of creepers and vines gracefully interweave with the architecture to form a new, living façade (Photo by Darren Soh).

6. Advancing Singapore Brand, Culture, and Community
 The sky links at various levels increases the connectivity to the other blocks, which promotes social interaction and the ‘kampung spirit’ among residents. There are a number of sky pods located at the sky gardens, as well as at the herbs garden on the 18th storey that allow residents communicate and interact, at the same time offer distant views to the surrounding. 

The amenities and facilities are not only limited to the standard, typical condominium facilities. The Tembusu provided a bouquet of luxurious yet relaxing facilities throughout the development, which include various sizes of pools, thematic pavilions, steam and sauna clusters, high-level play zones, dedicated fitness corner for adult and kids, as well as roof-top dining. These facilities are carefully designed and located at strategic spots so that the residents can enjoy the surrounding views while reading their favourite book or resting after long day at work.


7. Making Ground-breaking Achievements in Design
 The construction of The Tembusu is challenging, especially when it consists of sky terraces that span across 5 building blocks at different levels, streamlined steel columns that form the external supports to the terraces and the undulating roof trellis that resemble the fluid form of natural geometries.

On the higher level, the sky terraces use precast concrete slabs to minimise construction tolerance. These precast panel construction process has effectively reduced the discrepancy in construction, while significantly reducing working hours and period. All precast members are accurately and carefully manufactured in the factory, thus workplace danger can be reduced. 

On the other hand, the 50-metres-long steel columns were divided into 4 sections and were manufactured in the factory before delivering to site for installation. They were erected vertically and inserted with steel rebar cage, followed by hoisting to its designated location. Once the columns are in place, further calibration and adjustment are made at the columns joint to ensure its verticality, followed by concreting process once calibration works is completed. Such installation process is tough and time consuming as it requires absolute precision to ensure ultimate verticality is achieved.

More than a condominium, The Tembusu is a project that inspired from the past with a clear vision for the future, where it is an environmentally conscious build, replete with renewable resources. It is also seen as an exclusive club celebrating the idea of 'softness', the act of weaving, the tapestry of life in a celebration of nature and architecture.


Arrival Plaza with entrance pavilion with a concrete “fabric” roof (Photo courtesy of Arc Studio Architecture + Urbanism Pte Ltd).


Project Name
The Tembusu
Completion Date
16 AUGUST   2016
Site Area
13,149.30 square metre
Gross Floor Area
30,374.88 square metre
Number of Rooms
337 units
Building Height
64 metres
Wing Tai Holdings Limited
Architecture Firm
Arc Studio Architecture + Urbanism Pte Ltd
Principal Architect
Khoo Peng Beng
Main Contractor
Shimizu Corporation
Mechanical & Electrical Engineer
United Project Consultants Pte Ltd
Civil & Structural Engineer
P&T Consultants Pte Ltd
Landscape Architect
Tierra Design (S) Pte Ltd
Quantity Surveyor
Rider Livett Bucknall LLP
Water Sensitive Urban Design (WSUD)
Enviro Pro Green Innovations (S) Pte Ltd
Darren Soh



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