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Letter from Singapore | Background image

Forum's design for Singapore's new Philippine Embassy eschews the bunker look and instead relies on high, cantilevered ceilings, expansive courtyards and decorative pools (which also serve as security buffers for sensitive areas) and green spaces, all embedded in a formal, rectilinear framework – the combination, say the architects, reflects Singapore's reputation for green spaces, openness and efficiency.

In many ways, Singapore's architecture still suffers a little from the metal and glass box mentality. If it was good enough for Mies van der Rohe, the thinking goes, it's good enough for the tropics; this explains the excessive number of climate-inappropriate buildings that litter the island. Thankfully, the last decade has seen bolder designs take hold, as savvier clients push architects to design a little more unconventionally and develop a more tropical-Asian style.