The Panorama is a private high-density residential development in Singapore, surrounded by urban developments. The lack of large open spaces is a man-made urban imposition, which calls for a culture of “splicing in” liveable spaces where possible, to alleviate the condition of tightness. Hence, as a response to the highly built-up surroundings, an “oasis”, as landscape open space was created in the centre of this development. A variety of active and passive recreation spaces were woven into the landscape, facilitating social engagement with neighbours. Roof garden terraces, with outdoor lounges, jacuzzis and seating were also designed at the roof of every residential block, with aerial views of the overall landscape space below on the ground floor, and also of the unobstructed skyline beyond the development.
Landscape Design Theory and Organising Poetics
The design and layout for the landscape gardens at The Panorama was conceived as a lush tropical garden environment that corresponds to the site. Inspired by the naturalistic contours of the site the genesis of the concept is an abstraction and manipulation of the notion of contours, now seen as ribbons across the site, which gradually flow up and down, along and across the centre of the open space between the blocks. As such, the landscape forms sinuous waves that weave their way in both horizontal and vertical dimensions linking together different zones and aspires to be a multi-layered pluralistic and wholistic environment that cater to the diverse lifestyle aspirations of the users.
Like strands of music, the landscape ribbons are seen as rhapsodic compositions linking elements of play, rest and recreation along a series of stations or platforms and combining them into a melodic whole for a complete lifestyle experience for the residents. The landscape ultimately becomes a series of multiple stages whereby the theatre-of-life takes place and users are actors as well as the audience.
Just as a great score is a composition of notes and lyrics, the various landscape spaces consists of elements from planting, paving, and waterfeatures that come together to create multiple overlapping composed canvases for rest, relaxation, recreation and celebrations – creating a sense of “living in Sculptured Nature”.
Experience of the Landscape Spaces
A large variety of active and passive recreation spaces were woven into the landscape, providing users of different age groups and lifestyles, many opportunities to be outdoors and socially interactive.
The experience of the communal landscape space, is at once visual, auditory and tactile. The design of the spaces take on forms, textures and materials derived from nature or natural elements, thereby enhancing users’ experiences with and connection to nature within an urban setting.
The visual experience of the landscape comes from being within it, and also from without – a bird’s eye view of it, as the units in the towers and the communal roof terraces from each, offer views down to the landscape below. An organic pattern of sinuous fluidity weave across the built landscape, mimicking forms found in nature such as the curved lines of rivers, waves or leaves, intersecting with each other, giving rise to spaces in-between the curves that are bursting with the harmonious play of blue and green, providing an arresting abstract image of nature. The lines also take on three-dimensional form, with a “Tree-top walk” feature sweeping across the landscape, over pools, walkways, playground, and lush planting beds, providing vantage points to these elements from different heights.
The auditory experience is contributed by features in the landscape that create sounds of nature, such as a waterfall, the gentle cascade of reflective pools, the bubbling of water jets.
The tactile experience of the landscape comes from the use of natural elements and materials. Colours of blue and green are formed by the natural elements of water in the pools and planting that intertwine around the outdoor amenities and spaces. The use of natural materials such as pebbles, granite and timber, add to the tactile experience of the users.
Landscape elements were designed to integrate landscape lighting proposed by the lighting consultant. One of the focal points of the central landscape space was the Tree-top walk requiring many rounds of discussions with the consultant and the main contractor, together with mock-ups, to determine the position of the LED strip lights, and how they would be concealed within the railing, for the intended lighting effect. The design took into account the front-back facing the expanded mesh railing to finally select the best face to catch the light, and the positioning of the light to ensure a continuous line with minimal shadows from the railing columns. The design also considered the maintenance accessibility of the light fitting.
Coordination discussions were held with the Structural engineer during the early design stages, to ensure that columns for the tree-top walk were not overly massive, and to determine their locations within planting beds where they could be mostly screened with planting, in order to achieve a very wide span across the main swimming lap pool.
Mechanical and Engineering coordinations
We minimised the visual impact of ventilation shafts (for basement carparks) in the landscape area by coordinations with the M&E engineer to locate them in the least visible spaces, and to angle the roof of the shafts to be covered with soil and planting. Surrounded with planting, these needed ventilation shafts within the landscape space “disappear”.
Responding to the feedback of the main contractor, we adjusted the curvature of the tree-top walk from a natural random curve, to a final composition made of three standard radii, allowing the contractor to prefabricate sections of the tree-top walk in modules, to be delivered and pieced together on site to form an overall curve that still appeared natural and random.
Universal Design Considerations
We ensured in the design, that all landscape amenities and spaces were easily accessible to people of different abilities. The Tree-top walk was designed with a maximum 1:12 gradient with several landings at intervals and a “U-turn-space” pocket deck. To achieve a continuous curve that would sweep fluidly across the landscape, detailed drawings and a study model was made to ensure that the railing mesh concealed the ramp landings, screened the beams below, achieved safety protection, without blocking views out to the surrounding landscape.
Outdoor seating areas were designed to have seats of different heights, with handrails allowing people of different abilities ease of use.
The design language of sinuous natural curves and ribbons, was carried through into the details of every landscape element, including the flowing tensile cover of the Lookout deck, the playground (where the playground designer designed equipment responding to the landscape curves), the curved benches on the roof terraces, the parterre patterns, even to the selection of organically-shaped outdoor furniture.
This consistent language of forms in the design ties together all the elements in the landscape.
Greening the landscape
The entire landscape area, covering hardscape and softscape, is extensive, utilising 75% of the site area, of which half is planted. A large variety of plant species (around 25 different trees species, and 70 shrub species) were used to increase the biodiversity of the site, and trees were located strategically, with the intent of providing a stimulating, cool environment that promotes socialisation, outdoor activities and engagement with nature.
Project location: Singapore
Design year: 2013
Year Built: 2018