NUS School of Design & Environment 4 (NUS SDE4)


Location Singapore
Geographical coordinates 1° N, 104° E
Occupancy Type Academic
Typology New Construction
Climate Type Tropical
Project Area 8,514 m2
Grid Connectivity Grid-connected
EPI 58 kWh/m2/yr
Architect’s Serie Architects & Multiply Architect
MEP & Architect of record Surbana Jurong Consultants Pte Ltd
Energy Consultants Transsolar Klima Engineering

Located on a hillock within the School of Design and Environment of the National University of Singapore (NUS), the six-storey SDE4 building is a new addition to the precinct. SDE4 is a living laboratory to demonstrate and explore human-centric approaches for integrated sustainable development.

SDE4 has achieved a zero/ positive energy balance through flexible design, an appropriate combination of passive measures, optimized active systems, solar energy generation, and a range of innovative building strategies. The objective was to improve occupant thermal comfort and well-being while reducing the carbon footprint of the building.

SDE4 gets 100% of its power through a solar farm on its roof which comprises of over 1,200 solar photovoltaic panels which generate over 500 MWh of electricity per year.

Serie Architects
Facade & Envelope
Photographer: Rory Gardiner
Image: Transsolar
Photographer: Rory Gardiner

NUS School of Design & Environment 4 (NUS SDE4)

Site Layout & Planning

The challenging terrain around the existing building and abundant mature trees on the site are assimilated with the new building to bring the surrounding landscape in close proximity with interior spaces.

Climate Responsive Design

The design incorporates the principles of vernacular Southeast Asian tropical architecture.

The building mass is punctuated by an alternation of shaded terraces, landscaped balconies, and informal spaces that act as thermal buffers and social spheres that imitate the signature tropical verandas.

The building has an extended roof projection that forms a tropical portico.

Form & Massing

The massing is broken down by using the architectural concept of ‘floating boxes’, where its shallow plan and porous layout allow for cross-breezes. The optimal North-South openings let in natural light and provide views to the outdoors.

Façade & Envelope

The south façade is designed with lined columns scaling the entire height of the structure, supporting the large over-sailing roof that protrudes by 52 feet. This shades the building from the tropical sun and allows for additional area on the roof for PV panels.

The east and the west facades are covered in undulating perforated corrugated aluminium panels that moderate the amount of light filtering through, thus acting as shading devices.

The glass used for facades is high-performance double-glazed unit (DGU) along with large overhangs and high louvres.

Ventilation Design

Only 17% of the building is fully air-conditioned, whereas 46% of the building is naturally ventilated and 26% of the building is hybrid tempered.

Hybrid tempered ventilation is a combination of air-conditioning and natural ventilation, wherein the weather permitting rooms are provided with openable glazing to encourage natural ventilation.

Daylight Design

The building design is optimised to facilitate optimum daylight with the help of open platforms, minimal solid walls and large window / glazed façade designed with overhangs, internal blinds, and light shelves.

Almost 100% of occupants are within 7.5 metres of the windows, with access to glare-free daylight and view to the outdoor greenery.

Biophilic design

Ambiguous boundaries between the indoors and outdoors, allows uninterrupted connection of occupants with the natural systems.

The building material palette highlights the raw and natural characteristics with the use of steel, perforated metal and concrete.

NUS School of Design & Environment 4 (NUS SDE4)

Hybrid Tempered System with Adaptive Thermal Comfort Design
Hybrid tempered ventilation system controls air temperatures, air speeds, humidity and mean radiant temperatures, developing adaptive tempered comfort conditions, resulting in almost 50% lower energy consumption than the conventional fully air-conditioned design.

The system is designed to supply the rooms with 100% pre-cooled air. It works in tandem with ceiling fans that temper air supply through elevated air speeds, ensuring that the rooms are not under-cooled, and the outdoor winds are not jarring.

The system thus strategizes to maintain an operative temperature of 29°C. However, it is able to achieve the standard effective temperature of 27 °C. 

The system design makes sure that the indoor air quality is not compromised while maintaining the adaptive comfort conditions even when outdoor temperature is high.

Artificial Lighting Design
90% of the lighting requirement is met by LEDs.

Artificial lights have been carefully selected to ensure high color rendering index (CRI) values, low glare and low flickering.

All lights are controllable through dimmers. 

Smart Features
The windows of hybrid tempered rooms are equipped with sensors that trigger the system to switch off the air conditioning when the windows are opened.

Daylight utilization is enhanced through a network of photocells and occupancy sensors in addition to the architectural design.

Demand control ventilation strategies are in place to ensure that indoor carbon dioxide levels do not exceed 750 ppm. Sensors measure, track and optimize indoor air quality.

NUS School of Design & Environment 4 (NUS SDE4)

The building has more than 1,200 solar photovoltaic panels on its roof which generate around 500 MWh/yr of electricity, enough to power the entire building’s estimated annual energy requirements.

On days with insufficient insolation, the building draws energy from the power grid.

Based on the performance data over a year, it is observed that SDE4 is operating at net positive.

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