Here's a closer look at one of the contenders for the Transport category at the World Architecture Awards.
Bras Basah MRT Station by WOHA Architects, is one of three structures by the firm nominated for an award at this year's festival, but M.E. was really impresssed by the clever design solution WOHA came up with.
Bras Basah MRT station is in the heart of the historic civic district in Singapore, yet with a single strategy, WOHA's design resolves two conflicting requirements - the very deep station required a visual connection to the exterior to enhance the travel experience for the commuters; while the historic district and park location required a station that disappeared into the landscape. The solution was a station roof that doubles up as a skylight and landscape element - a water covered glass skylight. Viewed from the park, it is a reflection pool, from the station platform, it is an immense skylight.
The watergarden reflects the historic buildings, increasing their stature and symbolic importance. The station civil works are on axis with the classical designs of the Art Museum and creates a civic forecourt to the museum, cathedral and library of the Singapore Management University.
The skylight brings light and views deep into the ground, turning a potentially oppressive, labyrinth experience into a clear, direct and exciting journey from the earth to the surface. The visual connection is also important to avoid panic in the case of an emergency underground, with commuters easily seeing how to exit the station.
At all times the destination, whether platform or surface, is visible. Piranesi’s “Carceri” prints were an inspiration; the journey into the earth on the long escalators between the massive struts is a dramatic 'promenade architecturale'. The station complies with Singapore’s strict thermal transmission regulations with a combination of ceramic frits and multiple layers of glass.
The water film circulates over the glass, carrying away the heat that rises to the top of the canyon, and releasing it in evaporative cooling as it tumbles over waterfall walls. The natural light permits the station to be used during the day without artificial lighting. The station void is designed as a huge light reflector, the sloping wall picks up the diffuse skylight and bounces light through huge slots into the adjacent platform space, which is below Bras Basah Road. All the ventilation shafts are concealed within recessed landscape elements, avoiding any blocking of view lines across the site to the surrounding civic buildings and landscaped buffer zones prevent exhaust air from the tunnels disturbing passers by.
The design is a unique solution, using civil infrastructure to enhance civic qualities of both the historic buildings and the public spaces in the area.
Photography: Patrick Bingham Hall
**News just in - The Bras Basah MRT Station went on to win its category. Well done to the team!**