UWC South East Asia, first international school to clinch BCA's Universal Design Gold award

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

- 14 award winners: 1 Gold, 9 Silvers and 4 Bronzes
- Residential category chalks up highest number of awards, a three-fold increase since 2007

Singapore, 17 April 2012 - UWC South East Asia, (UWCSEA) at Tampines is the first international school to clinch Gold in BCA's annual Universal Design Award competition.

Out of this year's 34 entries, UWCSEA, an institution that provides holistic education stood out with its integrated campus of infant school with junior, middle, upper and senior schools for students from 4 to 18 years old.

Safety, accessibility and way finding were some of the top priorities that the UWCSEA management ensured in the new campus whilst maintaining a conducive learning environment for students, teachers and staff.

The first storey of the campus is primarily used for the movement of vehicles with separate designated areas for pedestrian entrance, infant drop-off and bicycle parking. They elevated their landscape podium deck so that students, teachers and staff could mingle in a safe and unrestricted space. While accessible features such as lifts and gentle ramps facilitated barrier free movement around the campus, features such as low height fountains, wash basins, two-tiered service counters and designated seats in the stadium for wheel chair users encapsulated the heart of Universal Design (UD) which is good and considerate design for people with diverse needs. The campus also provided family friendly facilities such as nursing room, diaper changing station, children toilet and first aid rooms.

Mr Julian Whitley, Head of College, said, "We are an international community with diverse backgrounds, experiences and expectations, so our new campus was built with that in mind. We did a lot of research and built it with the core principles of environmental sustainability, in keeping with our mission, and a supportive learning environment, in keeping with our educational philosophy. We wanted to create as inclusive an environment as possible. We're delighted that this was recognised by BCA's UDA Assessment Committee."

Out of the six categories, the UDA Assessment Committee saw the most entries in the residential category this year. There were 14 winners, with 1 gold award, 9 silvers and 4 bronze awards, and 9 of these were residential projects from private developers and the Housing Development Board (HDB), a three-fold increase since the launch of the UD awards in 2007.

Prof Bertil Andersson, UDA Assessment Committee Chairman, who is President, Nanyang Technological University, and a BCA Board Member, said "The rising number of awards shows that today's industry players - architects, building owners, and developers - have a better understanding of Universal Design principles. It is not about state-of-the-art-design, but rather good and thoughtful design. We strongly urge existing building owners to incorporate Universal Design into their planning and implementation when they upgrade their buildings. It makes better business sense as Singapore is moving towards more inclusive developments. Likewise, architectural firms should put their knowledge and experience to good use by making their clients aware of Universal Design. I think it should be a responsibility to ensure that these principles are in your client's blueprint by default. There's no better time than the present."

Similar to last year, another four of HDB's newly developed residences also bagged silver and bronze Universal Design Awards, indicating its commitment in building elder-friendly homes to help the elderly age-in-place. For example, one of the HDB's projects is Punggol East C18 to 21 & Common Green precincts, where the blocks are well connected by green spaces and pathways, making it conducive for the elderly and all groups of people to play, exercise and relax. In the studio apartments for the elderly, HDB ensured that the entrance to all apartment units were free from steps (step-less) and also provided elder-friendly layout with sufficient circulation space, kitchen fittings with movable cabinets, sliding shelves, and grab bars in the bathrooms. In addition, each studio apartment for the elderly is fitted with an emergency call button that is linked to the public electronic board located at the public lobby. Visitors would also be able to find their way at the precinct as HDB has provided clear signage, access route plan for guidance and different colour schemes to differentiate the four precincts for easy way finding.

Reflections at Keppel Bay, a private residential development near Keppel bay, has accessibility and safety features that exemplify its user-friendliness. Besides providing an exhilarating landscape, the development was designed to be favourable for all age groups to live, play, exercise and relax. For instance, ample seats with grab bars are provided for the elderly, while family-friendly features such as spacious family toilets with a diaper changer, children toilet and sufficient circulation space for wheel chair persons have been provided in the club house.

Cliveden at Grange is another Silver award winner in the residential category, a private development at Grange Road. Its units are designed for seamless accessibility, with good natural ventilation, lighting and 360-degree panoramic views. Its wide corridors facilitate easy movement of wheel chair users, each apartment unit is accessible through levelled and spacious private lift lobbies, and the entrance to the clubhouse is also levelled and free of steps. The development also caters for visually impaired persons by providing features such as a multimedia kiosk with audio-visual directory and Braille instructions. Communal amenities have been strategically located near activity areas of the development, along with ample seats with grab bars, encouraging gatherings with children and elderly alike.

Other Silver award winners of private residential developments include The Residences at W Sentosa Cove, Helios Residences while Belle Vue Residences bagged a bronze award.

Newly opened mall, Changi City Point, is the only project in the Commercial category to garner a Silver award. By adopting UD concepts in the design stage, the mall was able to leverage on natural light and greenery to enhance the ambience of the mall. The mall design demonstrates that shoppers' comfort and convenience were top priorities for the management. For instance, they catered for seamlessly accessible features such as a sheltered bus-stop, taxi stand, passenger drop-off/pick up points and sheltered covered walkway. In addition to family-friendly amenities such as a nursing room, diaper changing station, children toilet, the mall also has first aid rooms and ample seats for the elderly.

The winners of this year's BCA Universal Design Award will receive their award at the BCA Awards Night on 24 May 2012.


Annex A - BCA Universal Design Award for built environment 2012 (1.7MB .pdf)

Portable document format version of the media release is also available (1.7MB .pdf).

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