With its experience in green urban design and master planning projects spanning three different continents, PLP Architecture says cities like London and Singapore are witnessing an increase in demand for green spaces while developers are now seeing monetary value in them.
By Khalil Adis
It took Covid-19 for developers around the world to realise the important connection between buildings and outdoor spaces.
That is the observation of Lee Polisano, president and founding partner of London-based PLP Architecture.
“What we learnt is that there was an actual preference for people to want to have a much stronger connection to what they did things to outdoor spaces,” said Polisano on the impact of Covid-19 on building design and architecture.
Polisano was speaking to reporters at a press conference held at the Four Season Hotel in Singapore where he noted there was a significant shift in terms of urban design pre-Covid-19 to Covid-19 times.
This, in turn, he said has had an impact on building materials and incorporating new technology.
“Materials that are less effective by bacteria are very, very popular. Touchless technology and buildings have become very, very popular. Dare I say, facial recognition in some places as an enabler has become very, very popular. There are a lot of things that are happening,” he said.
Transforming urban areas into green spaces
From London to Tokyo, PLP Architecture has designed and delivered a wide range of projects around the world ranging from office to master planning and urban design.
So what results are intelligent, ground-breaking and exciting designs through the firm’s profound commitment to social, economic and environmental ideals.
One example is the recently opened One Bishopsgate Plaza, in London, United Kingdom.
The project marks the completion of a mixed-use master plan that originated with the adjacent Heron Tower to the south.
The master plan envisioned a new City of London, moving away from the mono-culture of the office towards a rich aggregate of different uses that brings together hospitality, residential, amenity spaces, new types of retail as well as innovative public realm and place making.
Having created some of the greenest buildings on the planet, his architectural firm is now designing and building projects on three continents.
Increase in demand for green spaces in London and Singapore
With his firm's experience across different continents, Polisano notes that demand for green spaces had increased significantly in certain cities like London and Singapore since Covid-19.
“If you take, for example, London’s parks, the realisation rate of London’s parks increased by 200 per cent from pre-Covid times to Covid times. They have impacted the time people want in open spaces. I hear in Singapore, they increased,” said Polisano.
Meanwhile, New York City and Tokyo had witnessed a decrease.
“In New York City, it actually dropped to under 40 per cent than normal realisation. Tokyo also saw a decrease,” he said.
Regeneration project for midtown Tokyo
Speaking of Tokyo, Polisano and his team are currently embarking on an urban regeneration project by transplanting their green and sustainable design ideas in the city.
Called Tokyo Cross Park, the firm was appointed in March this year as the master designer and placemaking strategist for one of Japan’s largest, greenest post-war urban renewal projects.
It is also the architect for two of the four mixed-use towers on the 6.5- hectare site in the prestigious and culturally-significant Uchisaiwaicho 1- Chome district.
“We are deeply honoured to be part of this exciting enterprise. Everything that PLP embodies was brought to bear on this project. Through it, we will deliver our commitment to use design and technological innovation to contribute to the flourishing of life and business, and importantly to protect the built environment,” he said.
Located a stone throw’s away from the shopping district of Ginza, the multi-year, multi-billion-dollar project will connect the city to the 16-hectare Hibiya public park.
It will include four towers, a 31-metre-tall podium and a two-hectare public plaza.
When the project is fully completed by 2037, it will create a total of 1.1 million square metres of offices, commercial facilities, hotels and residential units.
“The Tokyo Cross Park will become a flagship for sustainable development in Japan and will showcase the possibility of reaching the government’s target of carbon neutrality by 2050,” said Polisano.
The regeneration of midtown Tokyo will also see the rebuilding of the Imperial Hotel.
This legendary landmark has welcomed royalty, heads of state and international business leaders for over 130 years.
Opened in 1890 by Japan’s aristocracy, it was rebuilt for its times in 1922 by American architecture doyen Frank Lloyd Wright before being redeveloped for the third time.
Designing Park Nova
In Singapore, the firm is responsible for the design of the upcoming garden-inspired, green-clad landmark residential building called Park Nova.
Interestingly, Polisano shared that Park Nova’s design concept was implemented pre-Covid-19.
Located in the prime district of Orchard Road, PLP Architecture took inspiration from Park Nova’s lush, green environment to create 54 spacious apartments that seamlessly marry indoor and outdoor spaces.
With an increase in demand for green spaces, one of the challenges PLP Architecture had faced is the city’s hot, tropical climate which is applicable also to Malaysia.
“I think you have to realise that, for example, to create this kind of space in a European context or North America, the climate allows you to do it more readily year-round than it is here. Here, you got to look at other ways of creating this connection through design. That’s still quite a challenge,” he said.
To overcome this challenge, the firm came up with a biophilic concept.
This concept could also be replicated in Malaysia.
“The whole narrative of Park Nova was creating outdoor spaces garden-like environment which everybody experiences when you move to Singapore for individual apartments. That indoor-outdoor biophilic connection was already there. But now, the influence is quite strong on the creation of outdoor spaces,” said Polisano.
Indeed, Park Nova’s design and architecture include a variety of dedicated resident amenity spaces that promote health and well-being while supporting active lifestyles.
Sitting on a site area of 43,356 sq ft, this freehold development integrates its outdoor and indoor spaces by incorporating a lap pool, garden seating and outdoor lounge, just to name a few.
“What’s interesting about it is that people discounted the value of this kind of space before. I think real estate developers now see there is a monetary value in them as well. It is a win-win for everyone. Unfortunately, it was a hard lesson to learn and a very, very difficult way. It has changed everyone’s lives forever,” he concluded.
An independent analysis from yours truly