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april 2014
guest feature article

SOLARIS at Fusionopolis (Phase 2B):
From Military Base to Bioclimatic Eco-Architecture

By T. R. Hamzah & Yeang Sdn. Bhd.
International Architect Firm

All Photos Courtesy of T. R. Hamzah & Yeang Sdn. Bhd., by Albert Lim

SOLARIS is a 15 story office building located in the Fusionopolis hub in central Singapore's one-north business park, an area dedicated to research and development in technology, media, physical sciences & engineering industries.  The site was originally a military base, which meant that most of the original ecological system had been destroyed.  The architect’s response was to conserve what little greenery there was by building on areas which would cause the least ecological damage, helping to improve the site’s biodiversity simply through the positioning of the building.

The site of the project is part of a master plan designed by Zaha Hadid Architects in 2008.

SOLARIS graphic courtesy of T. R. Hamzah & Yeang Sdn. Bhd.

SOLARIS is comprised of two towers connected with a passively-ventilated central atrium.  Office floors are linked by a series of sky terraces which span the atrium at upper floors.  The architect designed over 8,000 square meters of landscaping, a total more than the area of building.  The “eco-building” replaced the original site with a ratio of 108% of landscape to site area.  Through the eco-building, sustainable design features and innovative vertical green concept, SOLARIS strives to enhance the site's existing ecosystems, rather than replace them.

Building Green Design Strategies

The building has accomplished a 36% reduction in overall energy consumption by integrating fully landscaped areas directly into the facade of the building.

View of the building showing linear plant organization.
Photography credit: Albert Lim.

The green design strategies of the building areas are as follows:

· Continuous Perimeter Landscape Ramp
· Rainwater Harvesting/Recycling
· Roof Gardens and Corner Sky Terraces
· Climate Responsive Facade
· Naturally Ventilated and Day Lit Grand Atrium
· Pocket Park / Plaza
· Solar Shaft
· Extensive Sun-Shading Louvers
· Eco-cell

The “green ramp” at SOLARIS is a 1.5 kilometer linear, continuous landscape ramp that was built to connect the ground level to the upper levels of the building, linking the basement Eco-cell with a cascading sequence of roof-gardens at the highest levels.  The ramp has deep overhangs with large concentrations of shade plants as a comprehensive strategy for ambient cooling of the building facade.  The maximum slope or gradient of the ramps is 1:20.

Ground level landscaping, linking to One-North Park across the street, allows for cross ventilation of the ground-floor plaza and provides a venue for social and interactive events.  The Eco-cell is located at the building's north-east corner to allow for vegetation, daylight and natural ventilation to extend into the car-park levels below.  The lowest level of the Eco-cell contains the storage tank and pump room of the rainwater harvesting system.

View of the high performance shaded facade.  Photography credit: Albert Lim.

Facade studies proved that the solar shading strategy reduces heat transfer across the building's low-e double-glazed perimeter facade, contributing to a low External Thermal Transfer Value (ETTV) of 39 W/m2.  In conjunction with the spiral landscaped ramp, sky gardens, and deep overhangs, the sunshade louvers also assist in establishing comfortable micro-climates in habitable spaces along the building's exterior.  The combined linear length of the building's sun-shade louvers exceeds 10km.

A large diagonal light shaft cuts through the upper floors of the taller tower, allowing daylight to penetrate deep into building’s interior.  This experimental device has a system of sensors to reduce energy use by automatically turning-off lights when adequate day lighting is available.

Internal view of Solar Light Shaft bringing daylight into building interiors.
Photography credit: Albert Lim.

The roof gardens and corner sky terraces act as a thermal buffer and creates areas for relaxation and event spaces.  These extensive gardens allow building occupants to interact with nature and offer opportunities to experience the external environment and enjoy views of the treetops of the adjacent One-North Park.  As it reaches each corner of the building the spiral ramp expands into generous double-volume sky terraces.  The sum of its vegetated areas exceed the footprint of the site on which the building sits.  A dramatic vision of the possibilities inherent in skyrise greenery design, 95% of the project’s total landscaped area is above ground level.

View of lush landscaped Roof Garden overlooking One-North Singapore.
Photography credit: Albert Lim.

Vertical Vegetation Features Overview

Vertical landscaping acts as a thermal buffer and creates areas for relaxation and event spaces.  These extensive gardens allow building occupants to interact with nature and offer opportunities to experience the external environment and enjoy views of the treetops of the adjacent One-North Park.  As it reaches each corner of the building, the spiral ramp expands into generous, double-volume sky terraces.  A dramatic vision of the possibilities inherent in Skyrise greenery design, 95% of the project’s total landscaped area is above ground level.

Vertical landscaped ramp recessed into facade spiralling upwards to roof garden.
Photography credit: Albert Lim.

The main greenery features are:

  • Extensive greenery

  • Over 100% green replacement of original plot area. (108%)

The Green Areas, themselves, include:

  • Roof Gardens: 2,987 m2

  • Atrium Planter Boxes: 304 m2

  • Green Ramp: 4,115 m2

  • Ground Level Landscaping: 487 m2

  • Green Walls: 164 m2

  • Total Landscaped Area: 8,363 m2

  • Ratio of Landscaping to GFA: 17% Green

  • Ratio of Landscaping to Site Area: 108% Green

  • Percentage of Total Landscape Area above Ground Level: 95%

Primary Functions and Facade Overview

The primary function was defined as an ecological approach to building design with the main goal to increase aesthetics; reduce building energy consumption, and positively contribute to the environmental habitat and sustainability.

Vertical Vegetation System Overview

The landscaped spiral ramp has a minimum width of 3 meters where the planter boxes were designed to be as shallow as possible, reducing the visual “bulkiness” they would otherwise create when viewed from the exterior.  The planter boxes are, typically, only 80 centimeters deep.  The lack of deep soil required a careful plant species selection process to ensure that plan roots are able to spread horizontally, instead of relying on deep, vertical digging for stability.

Irrigation System

The irrigation system consists of a large-scale rainwater recycling system.  Rainwater is collected from the drainage down-pipes of the perimeter landscaped ramp and from the roof of second tower via Siphonic drainage.  It is stored in rooftop tanks and at the lowest basement level, beneath the Eco-cell.  A combined storage capacity of over 700 m³ allows the building’s vegetated areas to be irrigated almost exclusively via harvested rainwater.

Plant Species

The lack of deep soil meant that the plant species had to be carefully selected to ensure that their roots are able to spread horizontally, instead of digging deep downwards for stability.

Notable plant species utilized at SOLARIS are as follows:

Shrubs and Groundcovers

Costus woodsonii
"Dwarf Jamaican"
Costus curvibracteatus
Shefflera arboricola cultivar
Piper sarmentosa
"Pink Green"
Algaonema commutatum
Aglaonema nitidum
Polypodium punctatum
Aglaonema nitidum
var. curtisii
Scindapsus aureus

Palms and Trees

Licuala grandis
Euterpe eduilis
Dilenia suffruticosa
(medium tree)
Vitex trifolia
Tecoma stans
Eugenia glauca
(large tree)
Maniltoa browneoides
(large tree)
Flacourtia rukam
(medium tree)
Calliandra tergemina
var. emarginata (small tree)

Maintenance Strategy

An integrated fertigation system helps maintain organic nutrient levels throughout the irrigation cycle.  In addition, an elaborate network of drainage trenches and subsoil pipes ensure effective water discharge, even in the worst case scenario of a heavy downpour.  This is important as the landscaped ramp is steeply inclined, and rainwater would cascade down at high speed on the surface level if it is not absorbed by the soil in a timely manner.

Operable skylight roof over atrium.  Photography credit: Albert Lim.

Analysis – Strengths

  • Large storage capacity for rainwater allows for almost all the irrigation to be done using harvested rainwater.

  • Facade studies proved that the solar shading strategy reduces heat transfer across the building's exterior facade.

  • The building has accomplished a 36% reduction in overall energy consumption by integrating fully landscaped areas directly into the facade of the building.

SOLARIS DETAIL:  The Vertical Landscaped Ramp is a 1.5 km long uninterrupted ecological armature that connects adjacent One North Park and Basement Eco-cell with a cascading sequence of Sky Terraces and Roof Gardens at highest levels.  The ramp measures 3-6 m in width with a parallel pathway for easy maintenance of continuous planters.
Graphic courtesy of T. R. Hamzah & Yeang Sdn. Bhd; photography credit: Albert Lim.

Analysis – Limitations

Special attention must be paid to ensuring the continuity of the landscaping as it allows for fluid movement of organisms/plant species between all vegetated areas - enhancing biodiversity and the overall health of these ecosystems.

View from the rooftop of Solaris.  Photography credit: Albert Lim.

The SOLARIS, Fusionopolis (Phase 2B), One North Singapore building is open to the public except for selected areas for which an appointment with the owners, the SoilBuild Group Holdings, would be required.


Location: 1 Fusionopolis Walk, Singapore 138634
Geographic Position: Latitude 1’ 22’N, Longitude 103’ 58’E
Project Start: 2008 (Design)
Completion Date: December 2010
Client / Owner: SoilBuild Group Holdings
Client / Owner Address: 25 Changi South Street 1, Singapore
Building Type: Office & Science Laboratory Building
Site Area: 7,734 square meter
Building Gross Area: 51, 282 square meters
Height: 79.2 meters
Stories: 15 storey


Architect of Design: T. R. Hamzah & Yeang Sdn. Bhd.

Project Team:
Principal: Dr. Ken Yeang
Project Leader: Mitchell Gelber
Senior Designer: Esther Klausen
Designer: Jan Rehders
Assistant Designer: Faizah Rahmat
3D Visualization: Vijai Kumar

Architect of Record: CPG Consultants Pte Ltd

Project Team:
Project Director: Lim Choon Keang
Qualified Person: Kuan Chee Yung
Senior Arch Assoc: Foo E-Jin
Arch Assoc: Terence Tan Chin Chieh

Structural Engineer: Arup Singapore Pte Ltd
Mechanical & Electrical Engineer: CPG Consultants Pte Ltd
Quantity Surveyor: PEB Consultants
Landscape Architect: Tropical Environment Pte Ltd
Facade Consultant: Aurecon Singapore ( Pte.) Ltd.
Sustainability Consultant: Aurecon Singapore ( Pte.) Ltd.
Contractor: Soil-Build (Pte). Ltd
Photographer: Albert Lim



First Prize - Skyrise Greenery Awards 2009
Singapore Institute of Architects & Singapore National Parks

Platinum Rating - BCA GreenMark 2009
Singapore Building Control Authority

Nomination from: “Best Tall Building award” - CTBUH Awards 2012


GreenSource Magazine – May 2009
“Ramping Up Green”

Vertical Eco-Infrastructure - by Leon van Schaik [Images Publishing]
“Solaris, Singapore”

Time Based Architecture International – June 2009
“Continuous Green”

Channel News Asia International – August 2009
“The Green List”

Roof & Façade Asia – November 2009
“Solaris Multiplexes”

FutureArc – 1st Quarter 2010, Vol 16

The Wall Street Journal Asia – March 2010
“Architecture: What’s Next”

Eco Build Magazine – May-June 2010
“The Living Office”

Ecological Architecture - by Chris van Uffelen [Braun]
“Solaris, Singapore”

References & Further Reading:

Bullivant, Lucy. Ken Yeang: Eco Skyscrapers: Volume 2. Mullgrave, Australia: Images Publishing, 2011.

Steffen Lehmann, Ken Yeang, (2010) Meeting with the Green Urban Planner: A Conversation between Ken Yeang and Steffen Lehmann on Eco-Masterplanning for Green Cities. Journal of Green Building: Winter 2010, Vol. 5, No. 1, pp. 36-40.

Schaik, Leon Van. Vertical Ecoinfrastructure: Work of T.R. Hamzah & Yeang: Mulgrave, Vic: Images Publ, 2009. Print.

T. R. Hamzah & Yeang Sdn. Bhd.

Publisher's Note:  I have had the pleasure of meeting and co-presenting at conferences alongside of T. R. Hamzah & Yeang Sdn. Bhd. principal Dr. Ken Yeang in Singapore (2010) and Hangzhou, China (2012), and was delighted each time to learn more about his firm's eco-design projects and philosophy.  Last year, Design Editor Haven Kiers and I highlighted the visionary Malaysian architect and ecologist in our " 2013 Top 10 List of Hot Trends in Greenroof & Greenwall Design" in the #2 position: The Influence of Architects - Taking a Leadership Role in Greenroof Design: Ando, Yeang & Ambasz.  In addition, the Solaris itself was included in our " 2010 Top 10 List" in the #2 position representing Megacities & Redevelopment Enveloped in Green.

See the condensed version of this article as a profile for the SOLARIS, Fusionopolis (Phase 2B), One North Singapore in the Greenroof & Greenwall Projects Database.

T. R. Hamzah & Yeang Sdn. Bhd.

T. R. Hamzah & Yeang Sdn. Bhd. is an international architect firm with its HQ in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, best known for designing innovative signature green buildings and masterplans. The firm has been in existence over 3 decades, with projects in Europe, USA and Asia. Key projects include the high-rise National Library Board building (Singapore), the 40-storey Eco-Tower at Elephant & Castle, the 24-storey IBM Building (Malaysia) and 15-storey Mesiniaga Building (IBM franchise) (Malaysia), Wirrina Cove Condominium (Australia).

The principals are Tengku Robert Hamzah and Dr. Ken Yeang. Both the principals' architectural education were at the AA (Architectural Association) School (London). Tengku Robert Hamzah, a prince in the Malay Royal family, and had completed the AA Tropical Architecture School course under Dr. Otto Koenigsberger. Dato' Dr. Ken Yeang subsequently received a doctorate from Cambridge University (UK) on ecological design.

The firm has received over 20 awards including the Aga Khan Award for Architecture (1995) and the RAIA International Award (in 1997 and 1999). The firm's work has been published extensively in the international press.

The firm's design expertise is in their ecological approach for the design of large projects and buildings that include consideration given to their impacts on the site's ecology and the building's use of energy and materials over its life-cycle. Much of the firm's early work pioneers the passive low-energy design of skyscrapers, as the 'bioclimatic skyscraper'. The firm is a long-serving member of the Council on Tall buildings and Urban habitat (USA). The firm practices Cost Planning ( in delivering Projects to be within Client's budget) with great emphasis on rigorous in-house project management and control. The firm has a sister company in UK, Ken Yeang Design International (Llewelyn Davies Ken Yeang Ltd.).

Contact T. R. Hamzah & Yeang Sdn. Bhd.:
Address: No. 8 Jalan satu, Taman Sri Ukay, 68000 Ampang, Selangor, Malaysia
Tel: +6 03 4257 1966 / +6 03 4257 1948
Fax: +6 03 4256 1005

The opinions expressed by our Guest Feature writers and editors may not necessarily reflect the beliefs of, and are offered to our readers to simply present individual views and experiences and open a dialogue of further discussion, debate and research.  Enjoy, and if you have a particular comment, please contact the author or send us an email to:


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