It has been decided: the best building completed in the last year is the Cooled Conservatories at Gardens by the Bay in Singapore. The people who decide these sorts of things are the folks at the World Architecture Festival, who amassed a 75 member jury (six of whom are super jurors?) made up of notable architects. The enormous, winning project was designed by a slew of architects lead by the UK firm Wilkinson Eyre Architects.The images of the Conservatories’ interiors are stunning, so maybe it shouldn’t be too surprising that the sizable project won a massive award. I mean, these two seashells have it all: the Book Mountain we saw Tuesday is much smaller with much less foliage and zero waterfalls, and the Cappella Ovi we saw yesterday looks like a grain of sand next to these massive
And the spaces are massive. The two Cooled Conservatories cover some 54 hectares and part of the reason the project was selected is the collaborative nature that this scale demands. The scale also demanded technical innovations to achieve the thinness and lightness of the structural grid. But the result is effortlessly impressive. Too often spaces on this scale look more like endless airports or shopping malls (maybe because airports and shopping malls are two of the few typologies that grow to this scale) but the persona of this building is distinct from other typologies and even other greenhouses. It’s a large and exuberant as it were proud of what it has achieved.