Issue 115, October 2012
Vibrant ‘univer-city’ takes shape at NTU 
NTU will be transformed with trendy living spaces, futuristic learning spaces and cutting-edge luminating spaces

Construction has begun at NTU as foundations have been laid for its Campus Master Plan – the University’s biggest physical transformation since 1991.

First off is the building of a new Learning Hub, conceived by renowned English designers Heatherwick Studio, established by Thomas Heatherwick. As togetherness is central to learning, the Hub is designed to encourage connections, with a shape guided by this central function. Tutorial rooms are stacked into towers which cluster together around a shared space and atrium. This futuristic building is set to become the next physical icon at NTU after the award-winning green building that houses the School of Art, Design and Media.

“The seven-storey learning hub will house 55 new-generation classrooms of the future, designed to support new pedagogies by promoting more interactive small group teaching and active learning. Envisaged as a 24-hour centre, students will use it in the evenings for various formal or informal activities such as group discussions, club activities, and so on,” said Professor Kam Chan Hin, NTU’s Associate Provost for Undergraduate Education.

The upper levels and rooftops have a variety of community and recreational spaces, such as a cafeteria, library, and even a roof top garden that will offer scenic views of Boon Lay, Jurong Island and the Singapore Strait. The rooftop will reflect NTU’s status as a Garden Campus with its vast number of plants. A similar learning hub will be built at the northern part of the campus by 2016.

To be ready by early 2014, the Learning Hub is just one of 14 new physical developments that are being built at NTU within the next three years, under the initial phase of the University’s Campus Master Plan. When fully developed, the campus will be transformed into a ‘univer-city’ with varied spaces for education, research, recreation, and social and leisure activities.

Speaking at the groundbreaking ceremony, NTU President Professor Bertil Andersson said: “Our ambition is to build a modern campus that is at the leading edge of science and technology. Hardware and facilities are vital to generate and test-bed innovative ideas, as well as to spur collaboration amongst our faculty, students, industry and global partners. Once our new state-of-the-art buildings and facilities are up and running, they will deepen and widen the research and development capacity in NTU, and further promote collaboration both within and across disciplines.” The ceremony was held on 12 October and graced by Education Minister Heng Swee Keat.

Living spaces
NTU is boosting the number of residential places to cater to an additional 1,250 hall residents by July 2014, adding this up to 5,000 places by July 2015. Based on current demand projections, this will enable every undergraduate who desires to stay on campus to be able to do so. In addition, a new graduate hall will be ready by December this year, more than doubling the current 480 places to 1,170 places.

“Residential living is part of a holistic educational experience. Our aim is to have every undergraduate who wishes to live on campus a chance to do so,” said Associate Professor Kwok Kian Woon, NTU’s Associate Provost for Student Life.

The first two new residential halls were designed as an idyllic blend of eco-friendly residences, lush greenery and tranquil waters. Students’ views were actively sought in the design of the new halls.

Prof Kwok added: “We made it a point to consult our students in the design of the new halls. The sessions were very fruitful and the architects have incorporated their ideas, such as sports plazas, basketball courts and barbeque pits to enhance the residential living experience. Certain design aspects were also tweaked based on their feedback.”

To accommodate expanding housing demand for NTU’s faculty and postdoctoral researchers, four new apartment blocks will flank Nanyang Avenue and create a small urban thoroughfare. In future, NTU plans to locate more residences along a new Education Spine that will be connected to the University’s Campus Centre.

Luminating spaces
A new Academic Building near the Schools of Materials Science and Engineering, and Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, will promote interactions across disciplines. Occupying more than 27,000 square metres of built up space, the building will provide more room for multi-disciplinary teams of students, faculty, visiting professors and researchers to explore research ideas, network and collaborate.

To be ready by 2016, the building will enhance both Schools’ laboratory facilities with a broad range of inter-disciplinary investigations in fields such as biomedical engineering, clean energy and nanotechnology. Its modular design will allow for flexible spaces that can be easily re-configured, as demanded by new technologies, varying types of research, and teaching methodologies.

The new Academic Building will complement the upcoming Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine’s Experimental Medicine Building. To be completed in 2015, the medical School’s building is located within NTU’s biomedical engineering cluster and linked to the School of Biological Sciences.

Living laboratory for sustainability
With NTU’s strengths in sustainability research, the University is walking the talk with all its Campus Master Plan projects meeting high standards for green design and sustainability. To date, NTU has successfully garnered eight Green Mark Awards from the Building and Construction Authority within the last four years, including one for its upcoming graduate hall. 

NTU plans to apply its engineering and scientific knowledge, skills and expertise, to be a living laboratory for sustainability. Many of the new buildings will also reflect NTU’s aspiration to be a champion of sustainable design. Innovative resource and energy saving features, like induction air-conditioning systems, solar cells, and rain water collection systems will be adopted for use. 

When NTU’s two undergraduate residential halls at South Ridge on Nanyang Drive are completed in 2014, the former lily pond earth canal will be transformed into a stream which will also serve as a bio-swale, reducing the volume of storm water runoff during heavy downpours. Besides conserving the biodiversity on campus, the water body will become an important component in NTU’s water research, particularly as an analytical tool and test bed for the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering. 

© Alumni Affairs Office