The inspiration for our design came from the very essence of our client’s core activites, the bible. The bible comprises 2 parts, namely the old and new testament. In between them was the time when Jesus lived on Earth.
Thus the old and new testament are records from times BC and AD.
In the design of Bible House, we similarly divided the site into 2 main zones. During the old testament era, people were governed in their faith, by a law. This law was rigid, which is why we portray the south elevation.with
the heavy masonry wall and small openings.
The death of Christ on the cross is the pivotal event in Christianity. This is represented the red wall that runs the length of the building, and through which users cross everyday when the enter and exit the offices. This wall is made visible through the North-east elevation and continues down to the underside of the pedestrian walkway, as a ceiling feature.
The client approached us with the intention to rebuild the existing Bible House. The existing Bible House was also a 5-storey building with a small basement. However, the internal environment was less than ideal, i.e. low ceilings, insufficient lifts and dark corridors, amongst others. The other requirement was to maximize the land use up to the allowable plot ratio of 3.5.
The client’s also desired for the new building to bring about a fresh face to the society; a means of keeping relevant in today’s changing world.
The site posed several constraints from the onset. Firstly, it was on a steeply sloping terrain. From Fort Canning Rise entrance at the 2nd storey, the road slopes down a full floor to the 1st storey. URA and BCA accepted the steep gradient of the pedestrian covered walkway due to existing topography.
URA allows this site to be developed right up to the boundary lines, which gave rise to the curved facade, which aligns with the road.
The site is small, thus we were unable to locate the car parking in the basement, as the length of ramps would not be feasible. Thus we adopted the idea to place parking on both 1st and 2nd storey, with separate access points respectively. This removed the need for a carpark ramp and allowed maximisation of parking lots.
The electrical substation had to be housed on the 2nd storey because the 1st storey headroom was constrained by the topography of Fort Canning Rise.
URA limits the building height due to the proximity to Fort Canning Park. As a result, we distributed the height amongst the floors according to requirements, with the 5th storey auditorium and 2nd storey electrical substation getting more height. Nonetheless, we were able to achieve very desirable ceiling heights for the office floors as well.
URA allows a maximum plot ratio of 3.5. Interestingly, we were initially not able to reach this maximum plot ratio. However, we were able to acheive 3.1 PR with the basement floors, which house additional ancillary offices for the society.
b. Materials and Method of Construction
The building is primarily constructed with reinforced concrete structures, using post-tensioned beams to create column free zones.
The north east elevation comprises glass curtain wall system housed within an aluminum clad ‘frame’. This frame serves as a window, as if to remind the users of the need to look outward. The frame also surrounds the feature red wall, which is the heart of the building.
The south elevation is finished in plaster and paint, with the feature teardrop windows filled with glass.
The 1st and 2nd storey floors are enclosed with aluminium T-shaped louvers, which screen the car park and give the impression of lifting the upper storeys.