NUS School of Design and Environment shines at global design excellence awards

The NUS School of Design and Environment (SDE) has earned yet another feather in its design excellence cap – clinching the coveted ‘Best of the Best’ award and emerging top in the ‘Learning Space’ category in the prestigious INDE.Awards 2021.

The INDE.Awards is the world’s only architecture and design awards programme that celebrates design excellence in the entire Indo-Pacific. The ultimate accolade – the ‘Best of the Best’ award – was conferred on the SDE1 project after it received the highest judging score among more than 687 projects across 14 categories. The Learning Space category, where the project also clinched first prize, recognises progressive and innovative architectural design or design practice in the education context.

A testament to sustainable architectural design and environmental stewardship, the SDE1 project seeks to repurpose the original 1970s institutional SDE1 building by acclaimed Dutch urban planner SJ van Embden on the NUS Kent Ridge campus; optimally reusing the existing structure to create a path towards a net-zero energy, high comfort and high quality academic environment. Another project goal is for SDE1 to serve as a scaffold for learning, teaching and research in the 21st century, inspiring future generations in design and sustainability.

Repurposing the existing structures to improve the quality and performance of the building while minimising new carbon expenditure, the project created two conjoined blocks enwrapped in a deep envelope. This resulted in solar screening and daylight filter, offering views and natural ventilation to people in the building. The central courtyard is replaced by a garden and brise soleil crown, with the interiors retrofitted with smart building sensors and a hybrid cooling system to monitor and control indoor environmental quality. The building also has integrated photovoltaics and a solar roof to meet future energy needs.

“While we continue to build new green buildings, we have to address the challenges of retrofitting a large existing building stock to sustain the overall carbon reduction effort in the built environment. SDE is leading the way in demonstrating how adaptive reuse can optimise existing structures to meet new performance goals, giving old buildings a new lease of life,” shared Dean of SDE, Professor Lam Khee Poh.

SDE has been making waves internationally for its sterling efforts in sustainable architectural design. It also recently bagged the International Architecture Award 2021 conferred by the Chicago Athenaeum: Museum of Architecture and Design and The European Centre for Architecture Art Design and Urban Studies for SDE1 and SDE3 – a building project with SDE teaching and research spaces.

Earlier this year, it was the first in Singapore, as well as the foremost in the educational sector worldwide to achieve the WELL™ Health-Safety Rating by the International WELL Building Institute. In 2020, SDE4 was the first building in Southeast Asia to be awarded the stringent Zero Energy Certification by the International Living Future Institute, one of the world’s most prestigious sustainability organisations.