The Star Vista- Singapore’s first naturally cooled mall: a model of mall building of the future?

The recently completed Star Performing Arts Centre is the latest edition to ever growing list of environmentally inclined architectural projects in Singapore. Designed by Aedas, it is a 54.000 sq.m development that houses cultural, civic and retail uses. The retail space takes 24.000 sq.m of the area where shops units are organised around amphitheatre complete with a jumping jet fountain-a common public place feature that is much loved by children in Singapore. In 2009, while still undergoing construction, The Star Performing Arts Center won the Building and Construction Authority’s (BCA) Green Mark Gold Award in recognition of the environmentally friendly features in its design as well as construction.

Open amphitheatre with jumping jet water fountain

Open shops fronting corridor

Lively semi outdoor fountain area in the evening

In a nation whose Environment Minister once said in 2001 that air-conditioning plays a crucial role in the nation’s economy, The Star Vista – name used to refer the retail space- becomes a refreshing change. The mall is the first naturally cooled mall in Singapore. Instead of having a fully air-conditioned central atrium like many malls in Singapore, The Star Vista boasts an open amphitheatre which is set amidst greeneries.  Shops fronting corridors or walkways are opened toward the central atrium/ amphitheatre thus only shop units needed to be air-conditioned. To ensure thermal comfort of the open areas, mechanical ventilation devices are placed strategically and spaces are arranged as such to allow cross ventilation. To protect the occupied space from elements, shelters and shades are placed accordingly. The amphitheatre is sheltered by a 40m high canopy which is partly made of translucent material to act as top light thus reducing the need of artificial lighting for spaces at the deeper end of the mall.

The ‘openness’ of this building can be a great example for other shopping malls. In tropical countries, where a huge chunk of energy consumption goes to cooling load, the way The Star Vista is designed seems to be an obvious way to reduce electricity bill. For people who find it such a hassle to always bring along their cardigan or shawl every time they make a trip to an air-conditioned shopping mall, such design offers them the possibility to enjoy the comfort of both natural environment and climate controlled environment as and when they are preferred. Thus if weaning people totally off air-conditioning is not possible, this sort of arrangement is a great alternative.

By: Devisanthi Tunas

About the author

Devisanthi Tunas is the co-founder of www.greenasiaforce.com, an online platform which promotes sustainability awareness and green building solutions in tropical context. She is a Singapore based architect.