This highly sustainable facility capitalises on the chemistry of mixing hard-edged R&D with business and "work-live-play-learn" amenities
Innovative ideas that improve quality of life have long been the key to this international chemical company's leadership in the field of silicones and silicone-based technology. Though headquartered in the USA, the firm's operations are truly global, with 9,000-plus staff developing and manufacturing more than 7,000 products on five of the world's continents.
As demonstrated by this office and lab facility, the firm's work environments are often just as innovative as their products. Previously, the company's Singapore operations had been centred on a 3,000 sq-ft office in United Square - a location which proved inadequate to the task of accommodating the firm's expansion plans.
A bold fusion
But there was more to the expansion than merely seating more staff in a larger office: the idea was to also expand their capabilities by creating an R&D lab in the same location. The preferred site of this pioneering office-lab fusion would be as non-industrial as possible to provide staff members with an attractive work-live-play-learn balance.
Squaring off an already ambitious project brief were stringent requirements for safety and sustainability. In addition to achieving Green Mark Gold Plus accreditation, the new site - christened the "Business Technology Centre" would adhere to standards set by the American Chemistry Council's "Responsible Care' initiative.
The client selected M Moser Associates as the ideal partner to realise their demanding brief. As well as being known for their strongly "client-led" design approach, the firm's integrated in-house expertise offered the advantage of streamlined project execution from a single source.
Integrating life, work & technology
M Moser began by carrying out due diligence of the client's 24,400 sq-ft, seventh floor space in the Solaris Building. An extension of the Fusionopolis development, Solaris offered the integrated "work-live-play-learn" amenities sought by the client but unlike the more industrial Biopolis development nearby, it lacked the infrastructure for operating a lab.
Working closely with the client, the designers and the landlord, the M Moser Technology team devised a means to weave the necessary infrastructure into the building's existing fabric. The effort involved major alterations such as providing an enhanced water supply and drainage for safety shower requirements, installing new exhaust risers and an additional pre-cooled air-handling unit on the roof, and integrating fire protection and smoke detection systems compliant with both local and US standards.
To give the facility's three labs the column-free, virtually square floor plans needed, they were located side-by-side at the most 'regular' part of the trapezoidal floor plate, along an inner wall and adjacent to the building's offset core. The remainder of the space - roughly two-thirds of the total floor area - was designed as a largely open-plan, largely naturally lighted office area with meeting suites, breakout areas, and a multipurpose pantry.
Space & sustainabilityIn itself, the open workspace represented a radical shift away from the more traditional cellularised environments previously used by the client, and reflected their desire to foster a less hierarchical and more collaborative work culture. In combination with the easily reconfigurable modular bench-type workstations, the architecture also offers exceptional flexibility. As completed, the facility can accommodate a headcount of up to 130 staff.
Materials used in the fit-out were selected for their compliance with Singapore's Green Mark standards for sustainable building. Notable aesthetic elements of the design include a living 'green wall' in the reception area, and wood veneer surfaces that extend from the reception desk to various walls to the structural columns. An additional note of visual coherence is created by strategic flashes of the client's corporate colour, in the form of fabric panels in the meeting rooms.