Plans for Singapore’s first ‘supertall’ skyscraper unveiled

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Written by Oscar Holland, CNNSingapore

Singapore is set to welcome its first ever “supertall” skyscraper, a term used to describe buildings that exceed 300 meters (984 feet) in height.

The new tower, known as 8 Shenton Way, will soar above the Southeast Asian city-state from 2028, offering offices, a hotel and 34 floors of luxury residences.

Set across 1.6 million square feet of floor space, the skyscraper has been designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM), the US architects behind Dubai’s Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building.
A public plaza and shopping will be on offer at ground level.

A public plaza and shopping will be on offer at ground level. Credit: SOM/Bezier

Unveiling plans Thursday, the firm said its design was “inspired by bamboo forests.” Digital renderings show a series of cascading rectangular forms topped with rooftop terraces. The project will include over 107,000 square feet of elevated green space, with plants chosen specifically to attract birds and butterflies. More than half of the site’s landscaped areas will be accessible to the public.

“We want to create places that are comfortable, where people want to be and are healthy,” said SOM design principal Nic Medrano at a press conference Thursday, adding that all occupants will be able to “access nature” within “three or four floors.”

The firm also said that 8 Shenton Way will be among Asia’s “most sustainable” skyscrapers. The 305-meter-tall (1,001-foot) tower will, once in operation, consume 55% less energy than is required to achieve the local government’s highest sustainability rating, the architects said.

A digital rendering imagines the building at night.

A digital rendering imagines the building at night. Credit: SOM/Bezier

SOM design partner Mustafa Abadan said energy savings will be achieved through a combination of approaches, including a facade made from terracotta, reinforced bamboo and heat-efficient glass. Horizontal and vertical fins running along the tower’s exterior will meanwhile deflect sunlight, helping to keep the structure cool in Singapore’s tropical climate.

The tower will also be connected to the city’s district cooling system, an underground network of pipes that push chilled water into buildings’ air-conditioning units to reduce electricity demand.

“Those are the kind of things that aggregate into the most sustainable building of this scale in Singapore,” Abadan told CNN during a press conference.

The tower will contain office space, a hotel and luxury residences.

The tower will contain office space, a hotel and luxury residences. Credit: SOM/Bezier

The skyscraper will be constructed on a site currently occupied by the cylindrical AXA Tower, which opened in 1986. Demolition work has already begun, and the new building will reuse part of the existing foundation — a move that Medrano said would “save material… and lower the carbon footprint of the building from the get-go.”

Despite being one of the world’s most densely populated countries, Singapore’s skyline is relatively low-rise compared to cities like Hong Kong, Shanghai and Shenzhen. Less than half the size of London, the country is home to two civilian airports and multiple military air bases — and there have been widespread reports of a building height restriction of 280 meters (919 feet) in downtown areas.

Singapore’s Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) declined to comment on whether height restrictions are, or ever were, imposed in the city. The urban planning body did not elaborate on why 8 Shenton Way was approved at its proposed size, though a spokesperson told CNN that “allowable building heights are subject to technical requirements as well as evaluation based on respective design and site context.”

Related video: A short history of the world’s tallest buildings

To date, the only other building to exceed 280 meters is the neighboring Guoco Tower, which was completed in 2018. Also designed by SOM, the skyscraper stands at 290 meters (951 feet) tall and contains a penthouse apartment famously purchased by British billionaire entrepreneur James Dyson for 73.8 million Singapore dollars (then $54.2 million) in 2019.
In addition to the Burj Khalifa, SOM also designed two of the world’s 10 tallest buildings: The CTF Finance Centre in Tianjin, China, and New York’s One World Trade Center. Its design for 8 Shenton Way was produced in collaboration with local Singaporean firm DCA Architects.

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