Wheelock Place, Singapore

Post-internship & pre-school, I decided to earn some money working at Zara.

Being assigned to their outlet in Liat Towers, I figured I should probably make the most of my time while I’m out in Orchard Road.  

For my lunch and dinner breaks, I prefer taking a walk along Orchard Road and be constantly consumed by the beautiful architecture around. I get to see the LED decorated ION Orchard, the traditional hexa-or-octagonal Tang Plaza and massive movie trailers on display at Shaw House just by standing at this particular spot in the map and completing a 360. 

And of course, the cone-shaped and iconic glass-walled Wheelock Place. Designed by the late Kisho Kurokawa in 1994, we are able to draw some influences onto his later works such as the National Arts Center, Tokyo in 2007.

PHOTO: National Arts Center, Tokyo completed in 2007

The cone for Wheelock Place becomes more of a sculptural element rather than a functional one as every shop is pushed underground- through Singapore’s intricately designed underpass that connects Wheelock Place to ION Orchard, Shaw House, Tang Plaza, Ngee Ann City, Wisma Atria and anywhere else in Orchard Road. 

Intricately designed underpass along Orchard Road

THE MODERN INVERTED CONE

Surprisngly, shapes like cones intrigue me.

What goes on up there at the apex?

Not sure about others but to me, spherical cones radiate this modern vibe to everyone around, breaking free from the neoclassical rectangles and their catalogue of geometric shapes.

The glass-walled element only adds to this air of modernism, which felt apt as it complemented well with the high number of youths visiting this area. 

Definitely some issues worth asking Architect Kisho Kurokawa- to understand his conceptualisation and ideation process for this retail podium.

GLASS WALLS: FUNCTIONAL OR REDUNDANT?

I wouldn’t say that I’m a big fan of combining two dominantly modern features together (an organic cone shape and glass facade). I naturally love buildings with a more geometrically shape- massive volumes of space with a function behind its chosen shape/space. For example, a rectangle: there has to be a reason why the architect chose a rectangle to best represent its space. Does the why lie in its function or was it just a spontaneous act of randomness? 

PHOTO: Farnsworth House, Illinois by Mies van der Rohe in 1951.

I love it when Architects fuse a geometric design with modern glass look- take Mies van der Rohe’s Farnsworth House in 1951. Long elongated and open spaces with minimal columns but heavy use of glass on tis exterior. But on the spectrum of Farnsworth House and Frank Gehry’s sculptural Louis Vuitton Maison Seoul, I’d say Wheelock Place sits in the middle of this. 

Not too sculptural, but Wheelock Place exutes architecture that is modern enough to have and will continue to serve its iconic look for years along Orchard Road. 

PHOTO: On-site sketch of Wheelock Place (facade facing Shaw House)

Material:
1. Leuchtturm 1917 A5 Hardcover Notebook
2. COPIC Multiliner SP 0.1

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