• Hotel of the Year – Parkroyal On Pickering

    31 December 2013

    The award-winning Parkroyal hotel in Singapore seems to have charmed most with its stunning architecture, and greatly impressed those in the architectural community. Much praise has already been heaped on the building world-wide – it won the WAF award in 2013 and it was shortlisted in the recent World Architecture Festival competition in Singapore. It has also been awarded the Singapore Green Mark Platinum status for its sustainability features.  

    Exterior Vertical Facade (day)_Photo; Patrick Bingham HallIf you walk from Marina Bay in Singapore through the central business area at Raffles Place, with all its rather dull high rise office buildings, and turn the corner after the last major office building on 1 George Street, you face the greenery of the Hong Lim Park right in front of you, famous for being the local ‘Speaker’s Corner’. It is as if a long run of office buildings suddenly comes to a pleasing stop. Now turn your head to the left, and you will spot a rather unusual building that looks non-urban for the first few floors, and then raises as office towers, like columns out of the undergrowth of a forest!

    It looks like a mix of different sized layered plateaus, reminiscent of the topography you notice on a map of a hill, cut out with curvatures like rice paddy fields, all generously planted with mixed greenery and topped with three crisp towers. This mix of a garden and a building is the Parkroyal hotel on Pickering! 15,000 sq.m of 16 storeys with 367 rooms, which opened with much anticipation in January this year.

    Behind the hotel, the bustling China Town area spreads out all the way up to Tanjong Pagar, and on the opposite side of the park, Clarke Quay and the Singapore River with its numerous F&B and retail outlets only a short walk away. Hence the hotel is strategically placed as a connection point between very different and unique urban areas; the most successful of these being an almost literal reflection of the horizontal urban park with a corresponding vertical garden.

    Industry praise

    Exterior Horizontal Facade_Photo; Patrick Bingham HallThis hotel was awarded the prestigious World Architecture News award as the Hotel of the Year in July this year, alongside the joint-winner: Raas Hotel in Rajasthan in India. The judging panel highlighted Parkroyal’s ‘lush gardens that seem to spill like a waterfall of greenery into the surrounding metropolis’ and its radiating ‘warmth and vitality’ in the cityscape. In addition, it was also shortlisted in the recent World Architecture Festival’s global awards celebration in the hotel category, where the 1st prize went to the citizenM London Bankside hotel.

    Facilities Wellness Floor (night)_Photo; Patrick Bingham HallThe hotel was designed by the renowned WOHA architects, who came up with the unusual mix of streamlined tower blocks combined with open sided courtyards, which maximises views as well as natural light into the building.

    This combines with multi-layered gardens, which provides not only an attractive view of greenery both from within as well as from outside the building, but also helps to cool the building from the hot Singaporean sun. Reflecting pools, waterfalls and the variety of planting creates a diverse scenery from ground floor and upwards, and allows for a bio-diversity not normally associated with buildings in Singapore. It is an interesting building solution to a site that sits in the middle of such varied city areas, and certainly eye catching for being so different from its neighbouring buildings. Yet by complementing the greenery from the park, it can also be seen as an attempt to blend in. The same can be said for the three tower elements, trying to blend in with the neighbouring tower blocks.

    However, whereas the greenery is attractive and well executed – it actually doubles the landscaping opportunity of the site – it is the towers that cut through the soft curvature with its strict linearity that can seem a bit disappointing to the eyes of the beholder, instantly charmed by the more organic curvature, but less so as the view scans upwards. It is nevertheless a stunning and welcoming piece of architecture that rejuvenates the area around it because it breaks the mould, and is refreshingly green.

    Green features 

    Exterior Sky Gardens_Photo; Patrick Bingham HallThe building is also interesting by having achieved the highest rating of ‘Platinum’ from Singapore’s Building and Construction Agency for its various sustainability features, including energy conservation, landscaping, greenery, innovation, recycling and water saving. An admirable achievement to integrate and pursue sustainable solutions in so many different areas, for instance approximately 50% of the guestroom corridors are out in the open, with fresh air and garden spaces; harvested rain water is used for the landscape areas, and planting is used to cool the building.

    The actual environmental performance of the building is unknown, but knowing that it can take up to 2 years to fully harvest all the sustainability outcomes in the operating of a new building, the jury is likely to be out for another year.

    The S$350-million Parkroyal on Pickering has received accolade for its designs, and it seems to be doing well as a hotel too. It is a welcoming building that has been well received by most. It is an eye pleaser as an urban vertical garden, and the views of the greenery are pleasing both from the outside as well as from the inside. It deserved praise for having changed the cityscape in that part of Singapore.

    Hopefully this will continue to inspire architects to do more and better in the desire to sustain our environment as well as provide us all with charmed cityscapes.

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