net zero singapore school integrates sustainable methods with tropical vernacular

net zero singapore school integrates sustainable methods with tropical vernacular

the net zero ‘NUS school of design & environment 4,’ designed by serie + multiply architects with surbana jurong, opens in singapore. the building, a prototype of sustainable design, combines contemporary sustainable methods with a tropical building language. located on a hilltop near the southern coastline of singapore, SDE4 is a new addition to a larger campus redevelopment in the design and environment precinct. the climate-responsive building includes more than 1,500 square meters of design studio space, a 500-square-meter open plaza, workshops and research centers, and a new library. the building’s flexible design and high efficiency reflect the school’s ambitions to promote new forms of educational spaces as a scaffold for research. the rooms are designed in a variety of scales to allow for flexible reorganization for exhibitions, school-specific installations and future change of use.

serie multiply architects NUS
all images by rory gardiner



awarded to serie + multiply architects with surbana jurong through an international design competition launched in 2013, the building was envisioned as a porous collection of programmatically expressive ‘platforms and boxes.’ the project was developed by the school of design and environment at the national university of singapore. as the team’s initial ambition was to challenge the idea that a high energy efficient building must be opaque, the completed SDE4 is incredibly open. the building features large platforms which to promote interaction and visual continuity. christopher lee, principal of serie architects, comments: ‘we envisioned a very transparent volume in which the outside and the inside spaces are ambiguous; where nature and landscape play an important part, as a backdrop to the building.’

serie multiply architects NUS



the design expresses the vernacular tropical architecture of southeast asia. over 50% of the total area is naturally ventilated and most of the rooms can be opened to allow breezes. the project, punctuated by a collection of terraces and landscaped balconies, is characterized by the ambiguous boundaries between spaces for study, work and socialization. the east and west facade feature a double-skin element, introducing an interstitial gap programmatically designated for research. elements of the outer skin can be easily dismantled and replaced with new systems depending on the school’s research needs. the building therefore serves as a living laboratory for the testing and development of relevant green building technology.

serie multiply architects NUS serie multiply architects NUS serie multiply architects NUS serie multiply architects NUS serie multiply architects NUS serie multiply architects NUS serie multiply architects NUS serie multiply architects NUS serie multiply architects NUS serie multiply architects NUS



UPDATE: this project has been shortlisted in the ‘completed buildings – higher education and research’ category at the 2019 world architecture festival.



project info:


title: school of design & environment 4

architect: serie + multiply architects

consultant: surbana jurong


developer: national university of singapore’s school of design and environment

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