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Garden City | Mega City

WOHA rethinks cities for the age of global warming

March 23 - September 4, 2016

In the tropical countries and islands of Southeast Asia and South Asia, nature, sun, and people are abundant. Of the world’s twenty largest megacities – metropolitan areas with a population of 10 million or more – seven are located in these hot and humid regions. Rapid urbanization has been the pattern of growth and accommodating rising densities poses major challenges for governments, planners, and architects – as does the crisis of climate change.
  
Just one degree latitude north of the equator, the tiny city-state of Singapore, with 5.5 million people and a territory of 278 square miles (719 km2) – slightly smaller than New York’s five boroughs – presents an extraordinary model of social engineering and architectural innovation. In Singapore, where 80 percent of the resident population lives in some form of public housing, of which 90 percent own their homes, the Housing Development Board (HDB) has embraced both the high-rise typology and the goal of a garden city.

WOHA – the practice begun in 1994 by architects Wong Mun Summ and Richard Hassell – has built extensively in Singapore, as well as in Bangkok, Mumbai, and other megacities in the region. The firm advances skyscrapers as solutions for urban density, but critiques the Western conventions of steel and concrete frames, wrapped and sealed in a curtain wall of glass and artificially cooled. WOHA proposes – and they have built – tropical towers enveloped by nature and vertical villages with sky gardens, breezeways, and elevated parks. At a time when global warming threatens the future, the enlightened work of WOHA rethinks the urban environment, offering prototypes that use vertical density to create highly social, sustainable, and garden-filled cities.
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SAH thanks The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Fund at The Chicago Community Foundation for its operating support.
Society of Architectural Historians
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