New School of Design & Environment, National University of Singapore
A NET-Zero Energy Building for the Tropics
The ground-breaking ceremony for the Net-Zero Energy Building of the National University of Singapore School of Design & Environment is on 7 November 2016. With a gross floor area of 8,500sqm the building will accommodate design studios, labs and workshops for the school of architecture, landscape, interior and product design. Serie Architects+MPly with Surbana Jurong in Singapore won the open competition to design the building in 2013.
As a design school with an emphasis on energy-efficient technologies, this building had to embody the principles it espoused and be an exemplar to the students, faculty and extended design community. The goal of the design was to create a net zero energy building: a design school that produces as much
if not more energy than it consumes. The design concept was based on the loose arrangement of learning spaces with fully openable facades. These spaces were optimised to enable efficient cross ventilation and good exposure to daylight. Protection from the harsh sun was provided by an oversailing roof which also serves as an energy harvester through the use of PV cells.
In addition to environmental aspects, the proposal also re-thinks some of the standard architectural solutions to educational program. The design uses the potential of sectional connections across programmatic zones and a circulation strategy to set up unexpected meetings across the student body and faculty. The design contains five types of spaces for learning: the large open studio, measuring over 70 metres in length for collaborative learning for architectural students; smaller studios surrounded by landscape for researchers; the ‘drop-down’ crit-space, visible from all approaches to the building, for student presentations; test-bedding areas located along the façade of the building; and social spaces of different sizes which are spread across the building for interaction and relaxation.
Power is generated from over 1,200 photovoltaic cells on the roof. Energy consumption is reduced by the use of a hybrid cooling system based on partially cooled air and the extensive use of ceiling fans. Combined with a far greater use of natural ventilation this approach challenges standard, super-ac
cooled sealed-box architecture.
Christopher Lee, Principal as Serie Architects comments, "Beyond the challenges of creating a net zero energy building our emphasis was on the imperatives of learning and research as a creative and collaborative process."
Serie worked with Transsolar Climate Engineers to develop the net zero energy building design concept. Surbana Jurong were Local Architect, Services and Structural Engineers.