“The transparent and narrow bar design enables the complex to have
this attitude of openness and connection to the nature, people and activities around them. The researchers are very well aware of their dynamic surroundings and are able to find formal and informal gathering spaces close
by,” says Lee.
Complicating this mission was the knowledge of how research would
be managed at CREATE. Unlike many laboratories, which are built with a
dedicated scientific or research mission that could last decades, CREATE
represents a new direction in international research destinations. Research
groups sign a contract for a five-year term. Some universities will rent the
space. Some will have the cost included in the research projects themselves. At the end of this period, the group is evaluated. Depending on the
results of criteria, including performance and goal measures, the contract
is renewed or terminated. As a result, turnover is expected to be relatively
frequent, so Perkins+Will needed to deliver flexibility.
According to Lee, the whole complex was designed using a 3.3-m-by-
3.3-m module. The buildings were situated so all the modules are aligned.
The wet laboratory buildings, for example, are 16.5-m wide, which equates
to about five modules.
Approximately every nine laboratory modules is a mechanical shaft. The
spacing between shafts allows the division of modules into 200-m2 sections.
A direct access to the mechanical shaft is available in each of these modules so
users can tie in fume hoods and other equipment without the need to install
additional utility services. Additionally, researchers can connect to any of the
main lines to access the cable tray for electrical and networking support.
“This ability to connect to the main line from so many places minimizes
the disruption of adjacent spaces,” says Lee.
Each space intended for research functions in the tower, bar buildings,
and basement has power, standby power, data, and 100% outside air supply
and exhaust ducts from a centralized air conditioning system, heating hot
water and condensate drain stubbed into the floor. In addition, the research
spaces in the bar buildings and basement have industrial water, pure water,
laboratory waste and vent, compressed air, and vacuum lines stubbed into
the primary shaft on each floor. This consistency, along with a strict vibration
criteria, lends crucial flexibility to the laboratory.
Green spaces, green buildings
A laboratory in a tropical climate consumes a tremendous amount of
energy, a challenge that Perkins+Will has seen from working on laboratory
projects in the Middle East. In Singapore, an added challenge was the strict
limitations on water usage; all potable water in the country is imported
from neighboring Malaysia.
As a result, designers equipped the main tower building and adjacent
laboratories with a variety of sustainability measures, including high-performance enclosures, durable materials, shared research equipment,
innovative water and low-energy HVAC systems, and a reusable plug-and-play kit of parts laboratory casework system.
According to Lui, designers faced a major challenge in fulfilling the
need for both air conditioning and airflow in the laboratory spaces. The
smart monitoring of demand and matching the demand with supply via
sophisticated sensors and computer processors helped CREATE to achieve
the highest recognition from the Singapore Building and Construction
Authority: the Green Mark Platinum Award.
This award, the first for a scientific facility in Singapore, is comparable to
LEED Platinum in the United States, says Lee. A major part of this achieve-
ment was saving 66,000-m3 of potable water, or about 90% of what the
laboratory might ordinarily use. The team also achieved 9 million kV a
year in energy savings.
Collaboration on a grand scale
From the project’s beginning, the future tenants who had committed to the
CREATE campus were consulted as the building design took shape. These
included Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (ETH Zurich).
These partnerships are significant. Established in 2007, the SMART Centre is MIT’s first research center outside of Cambridge, Mass., and its largest
international research endeavor. The institute has established five interdisciplinary research groups investigating subjects such as low-energy electronics,
biosystems, and infectious diseases.
The other major tenant, the ETH Zurich Singapore-ETH Centre for
Global Environmental Sustainability has the focused mission of investigating
how cities of the future will operate efficiently and sustainably.
Now, CREATE has 15 active interdisciplinary research centers and ten
high-profile research universities from outside Singapore working at the