At 11 storeys, Orchard Central is Singapore’s first high-rise shopping centre. Unlike the other projects featured in this chapter, Orchard Central is a new build. As such, it incorporates many of the characteristics developed in past Orchard Road projects while pushing their concepts to new extents. In the ongoing evolution of tropical mall architecture, Orchard Central’s new modes of site integration make great strides in the extroversion of retail space.
The design of Orchard Central wraps and injects private commercial space with the public space of Orchard Road, activating all 11 storeys of the mall with street connectivity. The façade hosts an exploratory circulation system that places the visitor in unique relationships with the surrounding city: a series of open-air escalators and landings extend the experience of the sidewalk at ground level onto the 11th storey landscaped roof deck. Numerous vantage points designed within the façade encourage a surgical exploration of the city as one travels upward and through the building’s skin. The roof deck is a lushly landscaped outdoor setting that operates as a new public park with views outward to the city. This enveloping circulatory system also extends inward, puncturing internal spaces of shops and restaurants.
Exploratory aspects of Orchard Central’s facade work to slow the process of shopping, persuading visitors to engage with the shopping experience. Attributes of internal programming also serve this purpose: the structure is segmented into specialized clusters — youth shops, luxury goods stores, entertainment spaces, a network of rooftop dining spaces and gardens — placed relative to one another with visual links to core activated spaces — a five-storey rock-climbing wall in the atrium, transparent elevators, and $10 million worth of public art displays. This organisation provides an internal hierarchy and fuels each component of the building with life.
A car park is concentrated among upper stories to avoid exhausting important space at street level. Its location is an essential driver of the building’s unique architecture: an extensive external rain screen of fragmented geometry wraps the space in elevation and at roof level. The screen is detailed to display a nightlong performance of light and color, transforming Orchard Central into a prominent beacon for the Orchard Road region.