Dense+Green Cities : Architecture as Urban Ecosystem

Dense+Green Cities explores the interaction between buildings and the city as ecological systems through questions of concept, planning, design, technology and not least experience. The dimensions of “green building” are discussed in international expert essays, analysed through benchmark case studies, and presented with analytical drawings – in an effort to understand and evaluate some of the most innovative dense and green cities of recent years in Asia, the Americas and Europe. 

Dense+Green Cities is based on an ongoing research project that was launched at the Singapore-ETH Centre Future Cities Laboratory (FCL) in 2015. FCL was established by ETH Zurich and the National Research Foundation Singapore in collaboration with key academic partners including the Singapore University of Technology and Design in 2010 to study sustainable future cities through science, by design, and in place. FCL develops new integrated planning paradigms, research methodologies, and implementation processes to support higher population densities, higher standards of environmental sustainability, and enhanced liveability. In this context, the Dense and Green research explores innovative building projects and developments in high-density urban contexts through case studies and a systematic study of their urban planning and design, architectural, environmental, social, and economic aspects with a focus on Singapore.

About the exhibition

The parametrically designed structure consists of elements 50mm wide and 4mm thick steel plates. Transitioning sectionally from a horizontal to a vertical display structure, it includes a number of analytical models that highlight various aspects of the Dense+Green research on the planning and design of future liveable and sustainable cities and its architectural typologies. The landscape design consists of 15 planters of locally sourced plant varieties: Liriope spicata, Chlorophytum spicata, Asparagus spicata, to appropriate the environmental context. Reflecting the idea of integrated design, the installation weaves layers of plants through the structure to evoke a dialogue between the artificial and natural elements. The exhibition, showcased in the beautiful environment of the Giardini della Marinaressa, introduces visitors to innovative architectural concepts for building future sustainable, liveable and resilient cities.


Four case studies of vertically integrated dense and green buildings are on display, in the form of 3D printed architectural massing models, paired with laser-cut analytical acrylic models.

3D-printed models of dense and green buildings

1. WOHA, Kampung Admiralty, Singapore, 2018. Architectural massing with green spaces.
2. Safdie Architects, Jewel Changi Airport, Singapore, 2019. Architectural massing with green spaces.
3. Serie Architects / Multiply Architects, Oasis Terraces, Singapore, 2018. Architectural massing with green spaces.
4. UN Studio / DP Architects, Singapore University of Technology and Design, architectural massing with green spaces.

Lasercut analytic acrylic models

5. Kampung Admiralty. Spatial network visualization using GEPHI with Fruchterman-Reingold algorithm, nodes are unweighted, coloured by floor levels and sized by number of connections.
6. Jewel Changi. Green spaces set against programmatic and circulation spaces.
7. Oasis Terraces. Building in its context showing connections to urban green and blue infrastructure.
8. Singapore University of Technology and Design. Horizontal and vertical circulation spaces embedded in transparent floor plates.



An earlier exhibition was featured at the National Design Centre Singapore with the support of the DesignCouncil Singapore and in conjunction with the publication of the monograph Dense+Green Cities: Architecture as Urban Ecosystem (Birkhäuser 2020).

The experiential showcase demonstrated the interaction between architecture and nature through installations, large-scale videography as well as text excerpts from the accompanying book publication. As such, it explored the interaction between buildings and the city as ecological systems through questions of concept, planning, design, technology and not least experience. The exhibition consisted of three main elements: a central display structure, data walls, and large-scale video projections.

The exhibition’s central installation consisted of a parametrically designed continuous steel structure that extended from the entrance to the exit wall. Composed of 56 elements of 4mm thick steel elements, it was filled with plants. The structure transformed from a largely vertical to a largely horizontal display, providing surfaces for the the showcasing of the research and the book publication. The projection of research data and high-definition aerial drone videography provided an immersive media experience for the visitors. A number of essays and case studies from the book were displayed on the exhibition walls to provide visitors with additional information on the topic.

An online symposium with a number of experts on the topic of the exhibition was held in conjunction with the event and attracted a large number of national and international attendees.