Tampines North CC
Text by William Lim Associates
At a time when Singapore’s community spaces were shifting from basic structures to purpose-built architecture, Tampines North Community Club presented a social condenser - a civic agenda in built form.
Excerpts from William Lim Associates Community clubs 1986-1999
Government opened design of Community Club to private architects for the first time. Previously, all Community Clubs were designed by the HDB.
Tampines New Town was a relatively young HDB estate. Contextually, there was little to refer to other than the surrounding blocks. Hence the concept of the circulation frame which responds to the rhythm of a typical HDB block, presenting an apparently controlled elevation, a frame containing the free form activities blocks, each block designed to accentuate the differences between the different functions of each block. The inner free forms break the outer box and frame at the point of entrance.
At this point William Lim re-established contact with Frank Gehry – who he has known since his Harvard days. William Lim & Mok Wei Wei travelled to the States to visit several of Gehry’s buildings – which gave them the inspiration to apply the strategies of fragmentation.
There was some difficulty in presenting the unfamiliar design – different to all other Community Clubs at that time – to the Development Committee. However the Members of Parliament and Community Club members were fully sympathetic and supportive of the design experiment.
The Design Concept
The blocks define open spaces within the frame, creating a variety of spatial experiences. The environment within this perimeter frame is highly complex with various elements arranged in a three dimensional collage.
The building responds to the tropical climate with the layering of the facade by a variety of sun-shading devices and a reinterpretation of the traditional 5-foot way. The major spaces are naturally ventilated and there are numerous shaded outdoor spaces.
The building explores deeply the definition of community. It goes beyond the concept of a community centre as an anonymous, flexible, multi-use box. It strives to produce a place of distinctive character, a landmark in the town, and a point of orientation, identification and involvement for the community.
The extensions include a covered area over the entrance building for public celebrations, dancing classes and so forth – an elegant and expressive steel roof.