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Christopher Lee’s winning design for Singapore courts complex

Jul 06, 2012
Singapore Subordinate Courts tower

The new courts complex should be a building that is symbolically open and accessible to the public. Its design language is drawn from the city [and] should be readily understood by all Singaporeans. —Christopher Lee, Design Critic in Landscape Architecture and Urban Planning and Design

The Singapore Subordinate Courts have announced the winning design for a new courts complex after an open competition process that started in September last year. The design, by Christopher Lee of London-based Serie Architects, in collaboration with local Singaporean firm Multiply Architects, includes two new towers and the renovation of the existing Octagon courts building. 

The stunning solution for the courtroom tower is an open frame supporting a series of shared terraces on which the courtrooms are placed: there is no external facade. In a metaphorical sense this represents the openness and impartiality of the judicial process.  The outdoor terraces feature high rise gardens and are designed to allow views across the city, thereby reinforcing the civic role of the building. The gardens will play an important role in filtering tropical sun.  The courtrooms are clad in ribbed terracotta to reflect the tiled roofs in the adjacent Chinatown neighborhood.

The courtroom tower is linked by a series of foot bridges to the second tower housing judges' chambers and supporting functions. The bridges will enable the controlled circulation necessary for the courtroom process. The 1970s-era Octagon courts building will be refurbished to house civil, family and juvenile courts, and the entire complex will be three times larger than the current courts. The $350 million project is scheduled to begin construction next year and to be completed in 2019. 

The open design competition jury was headed by Moshe Safdie, former Director of the GSD Urban Design Program. The judges praised the “simple but dignified” design which “complements the conserved octagon without trying to outshine it.”

Serie and Multiply worked with structural engineers AKT II, Bescon Consulting Engineers and Northcroft Lim Consultants. Singapore Subordinate Courts tower



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