Shan Shui Shi Lin - Hwa Chong International School

CompanyPark + Associates Pte Ltd
Lead DesignerLim Koon Park
Design TeamChristina Thean, Yin Wing Yong, Nuntawat Tasanasangsoon, Adrian Gesmundo
PrizeLandscape Architecture / Educational

Shan Shui Shi Lin (mountain, water, rock, forest) was conceived as the result of a closed design competition, as the presiding Board of Directors were looking for a building that went beyond pure functionality. The competition brief called for an A&A to the existing alumni block to house Hwa Chong International School, as well as a new extension block for the relocation of alumni facilities. Hwa Chong Institution is the oldest and one of the most well-respected Chinese institutions in Singapore. Naturally, it historically has had, and continues today to have strong affinities to Chinese culture and traditions. During one of the first site visits, we noticed the existing alumni block appeared ‘Chinese’ in its character. It was immediately evident that this was due to the liberal adoption of typically traditional Chinese architectural elements adorning the building. Having observed this, it became key for us, instead, to explore ways in which such Chinese motifs can be reinterpreted and reimagined in the context of contemporary architecture. Titled Shan Shui Shi Lin, the project is imagined as a Chinese landscape painting, one of the most important art forms in Chinese culture, engrained in history. The main principle fundamental to a Chinese landscape painting is its overall composition of background, mid-ground, and foreground, creating a more layered visual experience. The Hwa Chong Institution clocktower and slope towards it rests in the far background. The two blocks form the mid-ground with their defined formal outline, setting itself against the distant hill. Finally, the new extension block is strategically oriented to embrace the foreground of curated rock-scape and landscape, greeting arriving guests. With the compositional techniques of a Chinese landscape painting as the driving force behind the architecture, the project became an exploration into translating a purely visual pleasure into a functional and experiential built form.