The building, billed as Asia’s largest mass timber structure, was recently completed. Designed by Pritzker Architecture Prize-winning Toyo Ito Architects, the project features an impressive green design, including solar panels that generate more electricity than needed.
Created in collaboration with RSP, Gaia is located at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, next to Heatherwick Studio’s Learning Center and close to Wave, also designed by Ito. It’s only six stories high, but is 220 meters (721 feet) long and has a built-up area of 43,500 square meters (approximately 468,000 square feet). From this perspective, the tallest wooden tower, Mjøstårnet, reaches 18 stories.
The building takes the form of two slightly separated, gently curved rectangles joined at multiple points. Structurally, it consists primarily of sustainably sourced mass timbers composed of a roughly equal mix of CLT (cross laminated timber) and glulam (Glulam). However, like many of the modern timber projects we’ve covered, it also had some concrete reinforcement. In this case concrete is used for the stair core, toilets and ground floor slab.
The building houses the Nanyang Business School and contains a 170-seat auditorium, 12 lecture theatres, 13 seminar rooms and classrooms. The interior design is attractive, with natural wood exposed. Expansive glazing, including skylights, ensures natural light permeates throughout. Thankfully, some bricks from previous buildings on the site were also used in the construction.
Gaia has received Singapore Green Mark Platinum (Zero Energy) Green Building Award, which recognizes buildings that create more or more energy than is needed. Solar panels installed on the roof are reported to generate 516,000 kWh of electricity per year, and external moving sunshade fins at key points of the façade reduce solar heat gain. It also features multiple open areas, terraces and air wells to facilitate ventilation.
According to NTU, Gaia’s energy-efficient design means it produces about 2,500 metric tons (2,755 US tons) less carbon dioxide per year than a standard building of the same type and size.