Rooftops have long been a great place for artistry to flourish. There was the Drifters 1962 hit, “Up on the Roof.”, followed in 1964 and 1971 with the stage musical and movie, respectively, “Fiddler on the Roof.”
In these scenarios, the rooftop was the ideal place for a person to get away from it all, think, or even fiddle a song.
Now a half-century later, the rooftop is remerging as a happening place, but for different reasons. A visit to the School of Art, Design & Media at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore shows one of those reasons: not because solar shingles or wind turbines sit atop, but rather because the landscape has been transformed into an integral part of the roof.
This remarkable turf-roof design by the architectural firm, CPG Consultants, has not only won a trove of awards, it has experts like Design-Flute asking whether the structure is a landscape or a building. For good reason, they call it a roofscape, a term that belongs in all new dictionaries.
The five-story building was built as part of a three-block campus site – what is ultimately slated to be a $2 billion undertaking. A first glimpse of this stunning structure is almost hypnotic: it is impossible to pull your eyes from it. The sculptured grass roof has been accented with much in the way of reflective materials: plentiful glass windows, a sunken garden and water pools. All reflections of this creation appear to belong as if they have always been there, a graceful potpourri of dramatic lines and shapes.
If this represents a showcase of architecture and landscaping for the future, bring it on to open arms!
To this end, Design-Flute observed: “Apart from its visual impact, the turfed roofscape helps to lower the roof temperature and surrounding areas. It works as a functional space, as a scenic outdoor community space via easily accessible sidesteps along the roof edge.”
On its website, CPG describes the project design as part of a “carefully crafted master plan” that dealt with the challenges of a rolling landscape: “The main academic complexes form the core of its development, with linear forms suspended elegantly over the terrain.”
As might be expected, many of the teaching spaces here are presented in irregular shapes and sizes; the same holds true for the corridors and meeting areas.
Apart from its abundant glass walls, the building is clad with off-form concrete walls and columns, cement-sand screed floors and timber railings. However, loud colors and elaborate decoration are thankfully missing.
So welcome to a place where the work of the human race blends quite nicely with the work of the land of the planet. Congratulations are in order for all who participated in the development off this work and made it happen.