Student Works #1 – An Alternative Marina Bay

by Pan Yi Cheng

You are definitely not alone if you feel that the current building typology of tall straight boxy towers is sooo over.

When opportunity rises to redefine the skyline in the new Marina Bay district, what resulted was a disappointing stack of uninspiring blocks, recycled Cartesian planning and a stagnation of architectural progression in Singapore.


Pan Yi Cheng, from the AA, proposed an alternative Marina Bay. Where current blocks taper off at the top, his skyscrapers were inverted – smallest footprint, widest roof. Where current organisation revolves around the 2-dimensional grid, his plan involves a more 3-dimensional urbanism, with a more organic use of space.

Alternative Singapore
(An Alternative Marina Bay)

I think the tapering is great in the way it allows for more shade in sunny Singapore. It looks abit like hotair balloons tethered to the ground! I like that layering between ground/roof and smallness/bigness. It allows for more free space and less visible clutter on the street level. It has a scale befitting of the Marina Bay district, iconic and at the same time not too tacky. Just imagine the possible community spaces on ground as well as across skyscrapers as the broadened roofs meet.


It’s about freeing movement, freeing the constriants of hegemony as well as navigating the rocky course between “a political reality and a formal proposition”. (sounds cheem hor.. haha) Not incidentally, this project is the 2nd prize winner of the eVolo Architecture Competition for 2007. Congrats to Yi Cheng!

See more:

  • eVolo Architecture Skyscraper Competition
  • Panels and project
  • BD’s Class of 2006
  • Marina Bay Singapore
  • qmark.jpgis working on a housing competition.


    50 responses to “Student Works #1 – An Alternative Marina Bay

    1. hey Hong Guan!! Yeah I saw this project on display when I was visiting the AA exhibition. Totally caught my attention, His tutor is Singaporean too, Chris Lee I think. Hence the unabashedly anti-establishment design. Its brilliant I must say.

    2. yeap I think being overseas gives you a little bit more mileage to criticise things that happen at home, and that is a good thing! If only the establishment takes a more open stance towards these ideas coming in, and are more willing to experiment – not radically, but small gestures at certain areas. Whether a success or failure, at least a lesson learnt – instead of creating endless templates of indistinguishable urbanism.

    3. haha, maybe its a critique of prevalent masterplanning as a whole and not only singapore- in which cities in the world do you actually see buildings and masterplanning on a level like that? So indeed, I appreciate the way he looked at that ‘failure of masterplanning’ everywhere and how the inverted tower potentially created a different urban landscape where smaller & more regularly distributed buildings, which fills the interstices between the tall buildings.
      Will be interested to know more about the inverted form though, like the hole thru haha : )

    4. hmm its more like a critique of aesthetics of rationalisation. esp pronounced in spore with its obsession with computable GFA. but i m not sure neo-oscar-niemeyer formalism is the answer.

      its like when taking away cartesian hegemony and replacing it wholesomely with inverted balloons hegemony, the “hegemony” element remains. in fact, the black and white model there looks like something from the 1960s, an idealist age of totalitarian control of architecture.

      perhaps a little too dismissive, i might be missing a point here just by looking at these imageries.

    5. yeah actually at the aesthetics level i can appreciate his alternative to an urban landscape with the smaller buildings filling the crevices, other than that perhaps more ‘justification’ is needed for potentially filling the whole landscape with similar forms like these once again.
      On a side note, the project would make a nice comparison & think-tank abt our education systems though.

    6. you can say that rationalisation still drives the design idea, if you identify it as the element of “hegemony”, and go even further to say that rationalisation is the cornerstone of Singapore urbanism. However, I like how this proposal realises those constraints, and strive to change, improve or circumvent it. I hope more students can aim to target such issues during their semester design work! 😉

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