ETH Zurich – Institute for Urban Design
HIL H44.1 – Stefano-Franscini-Platz 5 – 8093 Zurich



Design Studio FS15 VCA Singapore

Vertical Cities Asia, Singapore 

Within the framework of the Future Cities Laboratory, we offer a Special Urban Design Studio in the FS15. The studio is bundled with the international student competition “Vertical Cities Asia”, which is hosted by the National University of Singapore. Students of the studio will also participate in the competition with their design projects.  The site, an abandoned Singaporean air base called Paya Lebar, is one of the most attractive of the few development areas the city-state still has left. Two design projects of highest quality will have the opportunity to participate in the final jury in Singapore, where prizes will also be awarded to the top ranked designs (1. Prize 11,000 CHF, 2. Prize 7,500 CHF, 3. Prize 3,500 CHF). 


Excerpt from the competition brief:


“Everyone Contributes”

Every year a one square kilometre territory will be the subject of the competition. This area, to house 100,000 people living and working, sets the stage for tremendous research and investigation into urban density, verticality, domesticity, work, food, infrastructure, nature, ecology, structure, and program - their holistic integration and the quest for visionary paradigm will be the challenges of this urban and architectural invention. This new environment will have a full slate of live-work-play provisions, with the residential component making up to 50% of the total floor space. In the fifth of this series of competitions, the competition site will be located in Paya Lebar, Singapore with the theme "Everyone Contributes".


"Everyone contributes" is inspired by the symbiotic structure of the ecological system where the functioning of every organism contributes to supporting and sustaining the wellbeing of the ecology. The theme emphasizes the idea of community, networks, resource sharing, circular economy, collaboration, adaptability and resilience. It examines instrumental dynamics between agencies and communities at place-making and enriching the quality of life. It is about a habitat that promotes and invests in social capital. Such living environment will also include the attainment of wellness and happiness as part of its urban metric.


The site is the current Paya Lebar Air Base situated within the eastern part of Singapore. It takes its name from the larger district of Paya Lebar; in Malay it means the „big swamplands“ describing its physical landform in its early days.

The site area is 6.87sq km. From 1955 to 1981 it was used as an international airport for civil aviation. With the opening of Changi International Airport, Paya Lebar was converted to an airbase operated by the Republic of Singapore Air Force. 

In Aug 2013, plans to move the Paya Lebar airbase to Changi East were announced. About 0.8 sq km of land has been designated for housing, commercial and industrial developments. The removal of height restrictions due to flight paths will lead to land intensification and redevelopment within and around the site.


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The studio is coordinated by Professor Kees Christiaanse and includes interdisciplinary design workshops with other Chairs and professionals. During the Seminarweek, from 14.-22.3., we organize a research trip to Singapore and visit the site. It is highly recommended to participate. It is not required but also recommended to apply in groups of 2-6 as the work will be done in teams. The competition deadline is 30.06.2015, which allows the participants to finetune their projects after the semester.


• Max. 12 Students

• Work in Groups of 2-6 Students

• Studiowork in ONA E25

• Studio Language: English 

• Credit Points: 13+3 (integrated discipline planning 063-1401-15)

• Highly Recommended: Excursion to Singapore during the Seminarweek (14.-22.3.2015, 2 Creditpoints, CHF 1'700.-, Passport has to be valid for at least 6 months beyond the field trip) 

• Competition deadline: 30.06.2015

• Introduction: ONA E25, 17.02.2013, 10:00am


Contact: Christian Weyell