This year's World Building of the Year, the Interlace, by architecture firms Office of Metropolitan Architecture (OMA) and Buro Ole Scheeren, could change the basic proposition of how we make cities.
The honor was given at the World Architecture Festival (WAF) in Singapore, and decided upon by a jury of industry experts, which included Professor Sir Peter Cook, the renowned British architect and founder of 1960s avant-garde architectural group, Archigram.
"The Interlace makes a major urban statement. It gives you a horizontal city with the interleaving of space and vegetation," he said.
"It's a game-changer...something you'll remember and go, that was when somebody first did that thing, of these blocks in the sky, with gardens on them."
The ambitious residential complex is a large-scale project, completed in 2013 and situated in the southern part of Singapore.
Eric Chang, partner at Buro Ole Scheeren, explains: "Our main thought was how to conceptualize something that's more of a vertical village, than really a building for housing."
The result is 31 apartment blocks stacked diagonally, and arranged around eight main courtyards. It is 170,000 square meters, and contains 1,400 square units.
Passive design strategies considered the orientation of courtyards to control daylight, to provide higher comfort to residents. Other design elements respond to factors such as solar radiation and wind movements. The open layout is intended to provide more opportunities for social interaction among its residents.
This isn't the first time Singapore has housed a "World Building of the Year." One of the festival's previous winners was the Cooled Conservatories at Gardens by the Bay, by Wilkinson Eyre Architects.
2012 WAF World Building of the Year winner: Cooled Conservatories at Gardens by the Bay Credit: ROSLAN RAHMAN/AFP/AFP/Getty Images
Singapore has become a destination for architecture firms and practices -- many of whom speak to its strict planning framework.
"Singapore is one of the most highly regulated environments, I think you can work in, city-wise," explains Chang. "That also means, there's a higher degree of transparency, on what requirements you have to achieve."
"There's a very involved dialogue with the city government and the different agencies, and there's more of a review of the design as it progresses. There's a very good balance of evaluating where the design wants to go and how to realize it."