School of Design and Environment 1

Special Projects, NUS School of Design and Environment with CPG Consultants

School of Design and Environment 1, (SDE1), is an intelligent adaptive re-use project that reinvents the strength and legacy of a 1970s institutional building by SJ van Embden to accommodate a net-zero energy, high-comfort academic environment of the future. It serves as a scaffold for learning, teaching, and research for the twenty-first-century and to inspire upcoming generations in design and sustainability.

By repurposing the existing carbon form through a series of critical subtractions and additions, the design seeks to improve the quality and performance of the building while minimising new carbon expenditure, utilising approximately one fourth of a new-build construction of the same area.

The design creates a new identity and interface with the context and climate of two conjoined blocks and enwraps them with a performative, deep envelope. It creates a series of light shelves to drive daylight deep into the floor plate, while an ascending series of screens fold to filter solar heat gain providing views and natural ventilation.

The south block renovation involves internal re-organisation of faculty office spaces while the central courtyard is replaced with a jungle garden and brise soleil crown. The interiors are retrofitted with smart building sensors that monitor and control the highest standards of Indoor Environmental Quality coupled with a cutting-edge Hybrid Cooling System (HCS).

The high-efficiency building has integrated photovoltaics and a solar roof to meet projected energy demands (55 kWh/m2/year). Holistically, the renovation showcases new prototypes of sustainable design that infuses the campus with a new sense of architectural quality and environmental stewardship on the Equator.

In essence, the design solution centres around the optimal re-use of the existing structure to meet new spatial and performative goals for a futuristic academic environment while minimising carbon expenditure.


Photography: Ong Chan Hao, Erik L’Heureux