Conceived by renowned architect Moshe Safdie, Marina Bay Sands® is one of the world's most recognisable skyscrapers. Located in the heart of Singapore's Marina Bay downtown district, it integrates a prestigious waterfront promenade with iconic retail, entertainment and hotel facilities, all combined with public spaces and breathtaking views of the city.

Building an iconic engineering marvel

Boasting the world’s longest public cantilever, the SkyPark® is an engineering marvel. The rooftop superstructure is sited 200m high straddling three 55-storey luxury hotel towers. The structure is 38m wide and 340m long – equivalent to four and a half A380 aircraft.

Arup is responsible for multidisciplinary engineering including advanced works, infrastructure, structural, civil, fire and geotechnical engineering, building physics, maritime engineering, traffic, lighting design, façade and acoustic consulting, and risk management.

"Every element of the project is technically challenging to design and build" explains Cheong Va-Chan, Arup’s Project Director.

Overcoming challenges from the ground up

Arup adopted innovative 3D modelling technologies, pushing the boundaries of current software and systems.

These modelling techniques provided a significant reduction in modelling time, better coordinated documents, rapid concept evaluation, optimised designs, visualisation of complex technical issues, and improved communication with the client.

A complex and challenging design aided by BIM

Responsible for engineering all aspects of Marina Bay Sands® and the Sands SkyPark®, Arup designed and tested structures to realise Moshe Safdie’s ambitious designs.

Arup had to overcome a number of structural and technically complex challenges. The SkyPark® connects the three 55-storey towers on which it rests, allowing for the natural and individual movement of each tower. In addition, the basement levels were constructed in deep marine clays, while the SkyPark® features the world’s longest public cantilever. Site works were also densely packed, creating complex staging and interface issues. Furthermore, complex geometric challenges has to be resolved for the lotus-inspired ArtScience museum.

Using innovative 3D Modelling technologies at the time, we pushed the boundaries of existing software and systems, achieving significant reduction in modelling time and optimised designs. Cutting-edge visualisation technology also helped communicate our designs, helping our client with their design decisions and for rapid concept evaluation. Our combination of bridge design and building technology also allowed for safe and easy construction in the deep marine clays at basement level and at the great heights of the SkyPark®. 

Putting occupant comfort at the forefront of design

Much time and analytical effort was invested by our bridge and dynamics specialists to ensure we understood the complex behavior of wind and human movement on the structures.

We had to ensure that SkyPark® withstood strong winds and vibration caused by people movement and provided optimal comfort for occupants. These dynamic properties of a structure are particularly hard to predict, as many elements of the structure and architectural finishes contribute to them. To resolve this, we designed large-tuned mass dampers to act in a similar manner to shock absorbers within the belly of the SkyPark® and carried out large scale vibration tests to verify the design.

An unparalleled fire and life safety approach

Challenging fire and life safety issues had to be addressed due to the crowds of people expected in the gaming, retail and convention facilities. This required some of the most complex, radical fire engineering in the world, with fire engineering highlighted as key to realising the remarkable architecture.

An important aspect of the fire safety strategy was to minimise fire and smoke spread through the building to reduce business interruption. A performance-based approach permitted the use of an unprotected steel structure for the SkyPark® and hotel atria, as well as the use of horizontal exits and monumental exit stairs – a first in Singapore at the time.