17 August 2018 09:00
Astana vs. Singapore: similarities and differences in building design

"Smart cities" will become locomotives of the regional development, the spread of innovations and the improvement of the quality of life throughout the country. The Head of State noted this in a statement on the annual Address to the people of Kazakhstan. 2018 is the year of the 20th anniversary of our capital - Astana. Its formation and becoming one of the most important centers of Eurasia development is the subject of our common pride. Modern technologies provide effective solutions to the problems of the fast-growing metropolis. It is necessary to implement the management of the urban environment in a comprehensive manner on the basis of the "Smart City" concept and the development of the competences of people moving to the city. In the world people came to an understanding that it is cities that compete for investors. They choose not a country, but a city where it is comfortable to live and work. Therefore, based on the experience of Astana, it is necessary to form a "reference" standard of "Smart City" and start spreading best practices and exchange experience between the cities of Kazakhstan. In its turn, Astana can adopt experience from the developed countries of the world. In this case, the journalist of the "Strategy2050.kz" Information Agency had an opportunity to interview Tan Szue Hann, Singapore’s Young Green Architect of the Year, Head of Sustainability at Surbana Jurong, Chairman of Sustainability at Singapore Institute of Architects, Board Member, Singapore Green Building Council. What recommendations did the expert give? What ideas does he have about the future architecture and "Smart city" concept? Read more in the material.

- Why have you chosen the profession of an architect? What are the prospects for this profession in the current realities?

- First of all, thank you for your faith in me in answering these questions. Architecture is a challenging profession, but also one that is very rewarding. Architects no longer just design buildings, but also engage in conversations about climate change, sustainability and resiliency. This is the new reality – where architects need to work with every other profession, to reduce the causes of climate change and mitigate its effects, and also ensure that resources that are used are renewable, and efficiently consumed.

- What were the most interesting projects you worked on?

- I have worked on numerous building projects and several planning projects that are focused on sustainability. One of the projects earlier in my career was the ParkRoyal on Pickering hotel in Singapore, which has won quite a few international awards for hospitality and sustainability. This project brings the concept of high-rise gardens to the hotel guests, and provides them a visual connection to green areas. I’ve also worked on the BCA SkyLab a high-rise rotatable building laboratory, which is a test-bed for new building technologies, and also a smart, automated building with about 200 sensors. Currently, my team and I are working on a project which introduces a cycling park into suburban Singapore, as well as smart city master planning projects around Asia.

- You’ve been to Astana in 2017. Can you describe the sights that impressed you most of all? And why?

- I was impressed by the urban planning in Astana, as well as the World Expo, which was cutting edge. The Kazakhstan national pavilion was the most impressive, and certainly captured the spirit of the Kazakh people in embracing new technology in building up the nation, and connecting internationally. More than the sights, it was the friendly people of Kazakhstan who were most impressive. You can see the passion in their eyes, in building and developing a nation that is ready for the future. And the food is great!

- Taking into account the severely continental climate of our capital, what suggestions could you offer for the buildings design in Astana?

- Buildings in Astana would require high thermal mass, meaning, the building envelope (walls and windows) should be able to trap a good amount of heat. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend full glass buildings, as these tend to allow heat to escape during the cold winter months, and allow external heat to enter the building during the hot summer months. Windows, if any, should also be designed to face the south, so as to receive as much daylight during winter. Once the base passive design of the building is done right, efficient heating and cooling systems can then be introduced. These can be intelligently managed, with smart Building Automation Systems.

- What smart technologies are already used in Singapore? Can they be used in Kazakhstan?

- In Singapore, smart technologies are used to determine occupancy in buildings, and automatically control air flow and temperature, amongst many things. They can also monitor the concentration of carbon dioxide, as well as pollutants, and in so doing, manage indoor air quality. Automatic window blinds that can automatically redirect sunlight, or allow sunlight into the building, may also be installed. Smart technologies can also be implemented to recognize users and occupants within a building, and cater to their preferences. Smart technologies are not dependent on geography or country, and as such, they certainly can be used in Kazakhstan, with your appetite for technology, as well as the abundance of renewable energy opportunities.

- How do you see the future of architecture in the framework of smart architecture, smart cities in the conditions of the 4th industrial revolution?

- The future of architecture, as I see it, will need to be intelligent, integrated and resilient. Not only do cities have to be planned well; they will also need to be ready for environmental challenges, and able to deal with serious threats to their resource, including energy, food and water. Architecture will begin to focus on clean energy, high-efficiency production, preservation of resource, and food- and water-resiliency. Architects will need to work with governments, NGOs as well as commercial organisations to design a more inclusive, more sustainable and more resilient world.

- Thank you for the interview!

Saltanat Sarina

Courtesy photo