With a youth park and the National Youth Center located one block to the south, The Heeren and its site at the corner of Orchard and Cairnhill Roads have served for many years as a recreational and social magnet for young consumer populations. The Heeren, a 14-storey office tower atop a six-storey retail podium, was built in 1997 specifically to house stores catering to youths. In 2009, DP Architects completed an extension hosting an outdoor refreshment area and urban verandah along the Orchard Road frontage, further establishing the mall’s presence at the level of the sidewalk. In keeping with the youth consumer trends and their corresponding shops, the addition offers a dynamic layout, form, and material selection to augment pedestrian engagement.
The design is calibrated to offer an intimate relationship between pedestrian and architecture: the traveller does not pass by The Heeren; rather, he passes under it and through it as angled glass kiosks, an overhead urban verandah, and an outer glass rain screen work together to encapsulate a triple-height sidewalk space. An undulating glass façade incorporates the fluidity and movement of foot traffic. Performing jointly as rail and rain screen, the glazing is segmented and detailed with glazed fins and point connections, relating the sweeping curves more acutely to the scale of the human body. By condensing vertical supports in three clusters to enclose food and beverage kiosks serviceable to the sidewalk and upper verandah, the architects have freed up large, uninterrupted spaces for outdoor dining. The kiosks are angled, clad in LED-backed glass, and mounted with plasma screens to produce a visual dynamism directed towards the regional youth population.
A compilation of functional elements are designed to take advantage of the site’s patterns of human movement. The façade extension injects mall programme directly into the promenade’s pedestrian flows; it also enhances the building’s original plan, which channels pedestrians from the site’s highest-frequency nodes — the bus stop and street junction — directly into the heart of the building’s programme by means of diagonal corridors: an external escalator extends from the upper verandah towards the bus stop, mall entrance and eastbound crowds, for instance, linking pedestrians directly with an additional stretch of mall frontage on the third storey.