Ken Yeang is one of today’s most prominent architects who is environmentally aware. A state-of-the-art sustainable design was needed for the National Library Building in Singapore to serve as a landmark for the city. The customer’s requirements demanded a facility that would also function as a cultural hub as well as a friendly civic space for the citizens of Singapore. In the Tropical area, Architect Ken Yeang once again taken the opportunity to transmit his message of sustainability.
The building’s architecture has two blocks divided by an atrium from each other. To push light into the different sections of the building while helping facilitate airflow, the atrium is completely day-lit and semi-enclosed. In the atrium, bridges serve as connections between the two buildings. The library is situated over a naturally-ventilated public plaza that is open to the sky in the larger block of the project. The shorter block is a circular entity housing all the noisy events, including an exhibition, an auditorium, and a multi-media room.
In terms of room design, the architects resorted to making a distinction, thus ending with the two halves reflecting a quiet library section sitting next to a noisy room for public events. The aim is to create an enjoyable library space that could attract individuals, not just for reading purposes, but also for other public and artistic activities.
To prevent exposure to the afternoon sun, the building is orientated away from the East-West axis. The southwest side has a concrete wall that prevents direct sunlight from entering the building indefinitely.
To stop unnecessary heat and glare, louvre screens were mounted on the building’s façades. Sunshaded glass panels often have other facades that let in natural daylight. To help illuminate interior spaces, the use of artificial indoor lighting installation is reduced by light shelves that reflect illumination deeper into the building.
The main focus of the entire project serves as a connexion between two active roads on the ground floor. It is a Plaza for Public Events; a communal area that leads people into the main foyer as well. In the plaza, shopping areas, cafes, and a library shop introduce activity.
In the complex, 14 landscaped gardens are filled with 120 tropical plants plants that help to control the temperature within the building during the day. Two publically available gardens are situated on two separate levels of the house. A level 5 courtyard is fitted with outdoor audio-visual amenities. Located on level 10, a second garden provides a pebbled foot-reflexology route. Normally, the other gardens are closed, but perhaps open for special occasions.
To help minimise energy usage, smart technology systems have been introduced for the National Library building. For example, rain sensors decrease the volume of rain that goes into the indoor gardens’ irrigation systems during the rainy season. When the interior spaces show ample daylighting, light sensors often dim or switch off the interior lights. In the escalators and bathroom taps, motion sensors have been mounted to ensure that these facilities turn on only when they are in use.
The air conditioning services is periodically modified to control the levels of carbon dioxide in the building and to maintain a favourable temperature.
Architect Ken Yeang’s ability to minimise the effects of construction materials on the natural world is a holistic analysis of green materials. With the building achieving energy savings of up to 31 percent relative to the scale of non-green buildings, it is undoubtedly a carefully done design with structures that lead to a sustainable low-impact design.