This project is a specialist high school for the visual and performing arts by Singapore-based WOHA. The school is located in the heart of Singapore’s Civic district. The school combines a high-density, innercity school with a professional performing arts venue.
The design strategy for this inner city school creates two visually connected horizontal strata, a space for public communication below, and a space for safe, controlled interaction above. This strategy solves the twin objectives of porosity and communication with the public and wider arts community on the one hand, and a secure and safe learning environment on the other. The two parts were named the Backdrop and the Blank Canvas.
The Backdrop is the podium that contains a concert hall, drama theatre, black box theatre and several small informal performing spaces. Against this backdrop, the school communicates with the public realm.
The informal spaces in between the performance spaces are designed around an urban short-cut, allowing the public to see the activities of the school. A civic amphitheatre has been created under conserved trees, and is very popular. Architecturally, the Backdrop is designed as a faceted sculptural space, which frames the surrounding city views in new and interesting ways.
The Blank Canvas is the secure school area. The metaphor suggests open possibilities. Three long rectangular blocks have a secure point of access yet are visually connected to the public areas below. Classrooms, studios and circulation are all naturally ventilated, with dynamic visual and physical links between blocks. The green façades are environmental filters, cutting out glare and dust, keeping the rooms cool, and in combination with the acoustic ceilings, absorb traffic noise. The rooftop is designed as a large recreation park in the sky.