A landmark new tower complex is the launch pad for Singapore’s aspiration for global leadership of the digital media economy. Fusionopolis ‘fuses’ state of the art studios and business incubators with residential, recreational and retail facilities. The switching on of Fusionopolis’ decorative lighting has given Singapore’s urban nightscape new complexity, movement and colour.
Translucent blue towers rise 22-24 storeys, linked by sky bridges. Poised between the towers at five storeys is a striking sphere, like a silver balloon. Apparently lightly fixed, it seems to levitate. Inside this sphere is a flexible, exciting performance space, Genexis Theatre.
In order that the 'levitating' sphere could nest between the towers, the towers themselves had to rise high without the obstruction of ground columns at the lower levels. The solution adopted involved cantilever transfer trusses every seven floors, with perimeter 'belt' trusses at each of these transfer levels and columns connecting the floors, so eliminating the need for multiple columns below (a cantilever is a beam supported on only one end, and its use is an established technique in multi-storey buildings, as well as bridges).
The design and construction of Fusionopolis called on Arup’s consultants across a remarkable range of specialties, from steel design refinement, to fire engineering, lighting design, acoustics and theatre design.
The project ran from 2004 through to 2008.
Thinking outside the square: a curved performance space
With its striking shape and position, dramatic foyer, flexible stage and versatile seating, Fusionopolis's Genexis Theatre is unique in Singapore – a spectacular addition to the city’s cultural infrastructure.
Genexis breaks the conventions of theatre design. The challenge was to fit a square theatre, seating an audience of 400-500, into a roundish shape 'levitating' five storeys off the ground. Quite apart from the practical difficulties, acousticians in particular do not usually encourage the curved form for performance spaces.
Arup people from all points of the globe worked together on the project, managing it and serving as consultants in acoustics, audio-visual aspects, theatre planning and technical equipment.
Seating is retractable and the fixed galleries make only a light visual impact. Audiences see through to the bowed interior walls, superbly finished with acoustic panels composed of myriad angled timber beads. This is an interesting new acoustic finish that has not been used elsewhere and one which its designers are confident will perform well, compensating for the curved walls.
The challenge in the construction of Genexis Theatre was for Arup’s consultants to remain alive to the latest technological developments, while maintaining respect for theatre culture. A performance space has been created that is highly usable in spite of, and perhaps even because of, its design restraints.