The Brief

“Everyone Contributes”

Every year a one square kilometre territory will be the subject of the competition. This area, to house 100,000 people living and working, sets the stage for tremendous research and investigation into urban density, verticality, domesticity, work, food, infrastructure, nature, ecology, structure, and program - their holistic integration and the quest for visionary paradigm will be the challenges of this urban and architectural invention. This new environment will have a full slate of live-work-play provisions, with the residential component making up to 50% of the total floor space. In the fifth of this series of competitions, the competition site will be located in Paya Lebar, Singapore with the theme "Everyone Contributes".


"Everyone contributes" is inspired by the symbiotic structure of the ecological system where the functioning of every organism contributes to supporting and sustaining the wellbeing of the ecology. The theme emphasizes the idea of community, networks, resource sharing, circular economy, collaboration, adaptability and resilience. It examines instrumental dynamics between agencies and communities at place-making and enriching the quality of life. It is about a habitat that promotes and invests in social capital. Such living environment will also include the attainment of wellness and happiness as part of its urban metric.


The site is the current Paya Lebar Air Base situated within the eastern part of Singapore. It takes its name from the larger district of Paya Lebar; in Malay it means the "big swamplands" describing its physical landform in its early days. An historical map dated 1828 revealed the existence of several plantations in the area.

The site is defined by Tampines Expressway to the north; Tampines Avenue 10 to the east; former landfill and Defu Industrial Estate to the west and Kaki Bukit Industrial Estate to the south. The site area is 6.87sq km. From 1955 to 1981 it was used as an international airport for civil aviation. With the opening of Changi International Airport, Paya Lebar was converted to an airbase operated by the Republic of Singapore Air Force. The site is surrounded by public housing new towns developed by the Housing Development Board. Sengkang and Hougang are to the west of the site. Just beyond the eastern perimeter of the site are Pasir Ris, Tampines and Bedok.

About 3 km south of the site is the development of the Paya Lebar Regional Centre to capitalize on the Paya Lebar MRT interchange and the revitalizing existing commercial and cultural hub. One such distinctive local cultural landmark is the Geylang Serai Market located in the area. It is bustling with bazaars, activities and decorations during the Malay festivals. More public spaces will be created around the transport hub and heritage site. The Geylang River in the vicinity will be lined with parks and attractions. This development of the Paya Lebar Regional Centre is part of Urban Redevelopment Authority's larger decentralization strategy in the Concept Plan to provide alternatives for businesses and jobs closer to homes.

In Aug 2013, plans to move the Paya Lebar airbase to Changi East were announced. About 0.8 sq km of land has been designated for housing, commercial and industrial developments. The removal of height restrictions due to flight paths will lead to land intensification and redevelopment within and around the site.

Each team is free to select a 1 sq. km territory within the larger Paya Lebar airbase site of 8 sq. km indicated below. 

Briefing at URA City Gallery and Site Visit

We are most thankful to the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) for assisting us with the site information for the Vertical Cities Asia International Design Competition 2015. They will be hosting and briefing the teams at the URA City Gallery on Singapore's planning strategies and policies. Thereafter, NUS will conduct a site visit to the areas around the air base. There will be 3 dates for the participating university teams who wish to visit the areas around the site. The detailed schedule is available in the Downloads section.

19 Jan 2015, Monday

9 Feb 2015, Monday

16 Mar 2015, Monday

Design Competition

The objective of the competition is to seek a holistic solution or a new urban paradigm for a rapidly growing Asian city which also faces the issues of sustainability and quality of life that also addresses the notion of urban connection in Asian cities.

Design Considerations:
The design is about a high intensity and density Asian city that addresses its issues of connectivity and achieving "liveability". The design should consider the following issues holistically and integratedly.

  1. Sustainability - The design should examine a closed loop paradigm, ecological and resilience attributes in their solution.
  2. Quality of Life - The consideration for inclusiveness and sense of community.
  3. Technical Innovation - The appropriate and innovative use of technology and technique.
  4. Relationship to Context - Sensitive consideration of the place, climate and cultural context.
  5. Feasibility - The rigor of the research and criticality of design in addressing the issues.

The Design Jury will judge the submissions along the abovementioned.

Research Poster Competition

The objective of the Research Poster Competition is to develop in student comprehensive research methods, critical observation & thinking and the communication of analysis and insights.

Judging Criteria:
The Research Poster will convey the students' analysis and understanding of the site as well as the interpretation of the issues relating to the design brief and theme. It should help to identify the formulation of the design objectives. The poster requires no verbal presentation; it should be clear and concise to speak for itself.

The Research Poster will be judged on the following criteria:

  1. Comprehensiveness of research
  2. Criticality of analysis
  3. Clarity of communication
  4. Creativity of poster design

Team Participation

Two proposals from each university will be selected and the University team of 1 faculty member and 2 students will be sponsored to attend the jury session and the symposium.

Universities are to identify their teams as "Team A" & "Team B" in all their submissions and documents.

The 2 students will be required to present their respective team designs for the competition to the international jury panel.

The Organizer will sponsor the following to the accompanying 1 faculty member and 2 students from each university:

  1. Economy class air tickets in the most direct route to Singapore from their respective countries.
  2. Four to five nights of accommodation at the university hostel or apartments.

Each participating university will purchase air tickets for their team members. The university will send an invoice with the attached receipts of air tickets to the Organizer. Upon receiving the documentation, the Organizer will process the claims.

Details of accommodation and other hospitality matters will be announced later.

Prizes for Design Competition

The Design jury will select 3 winning schemes. The winners will be awarded monetary prizes.

1st Prize
15,000 SGD
2nd Prize
10,000 SGD
3rd Prize
5,000 SGD

Prizes for Research Poster Competition

Top 3 winning posters will receive Book Prizes.


All submitted proposals will be assessed by a Design Jury. The Jury session will be open and all faculty members and students are invited to attend the proceedings. The Jury consists of the following members:

CJ Lim
Professor of Architecture and Urbanism, Vice-Dean and Pro-Provost, The Bartlett, University College London & Founder of Studio 8 Architects

Ada Fung Yin-Suen, JP
Chairperson, APEC Architect Monitoring Committee of Hong Kong & Immediate Past President, The Hong Kong Institute of Architects

Vishaan Chakrabarti
Principal, SHoP Architects & Holliday Professor and Director, CURE, Columbia University

Chan Sau Yan, Sonny
Director, CSYA Pte Ltd

Submission Requirements

There will be 2 proposals from each university. Each proposal will consist of the following submissions:

Design Report:
Each proposal is required to submit 6 bound copies. Each report is of A-4 size (210 × 280 mm or 8.27 × 11.02 inches) comprising 15 pages (double sided printing) outlining the vision and objectives of the proposal. The report must include the following:
1. Name of the proposal.
2. Name of team members, email and mobile contact.
3. About 300 words description of the proposal.
4. Technical Breakdown (total site area, population, Floor Area Ratio of the proposal).
5. Summary of analysis of site, programme and issues.
6. Site plan (indicate scale bar)
7. Overview of design strategies.
8. Feasibility (Financial/Technical).
9. Images & illustrations.
Research Report:
Each team is also required to submit 6 bound copies of Research Report which is a compilation of all the research material related to the design proposal. Each report is of A-4 size (210 × 280 mm or 8.27 × 11.02 inches) with no limit in the number of page (double sided printing) elaborating the research process of the proposal. The report must include the following:
1. Name of the proposal.
2. Name of team members, email and mobile contact.
3. Compilation of all the research material, process and references
Research Poster
Each team is also required to submit a Research Poster on a single AO size printed paper (841 x 1189mm or 33.1 x 46.8 inches) portrait format .The Research Poster will communicate the students' analysis and understanding of the site as well as the interpretation of the issues relating to the design brief and theme. It should help to formulate the design objectives

The poster must include the following:
1. Title of Research
2. Name of team members

Each team will be provided with a mobile easel with a display area of 1800mm (70.5 inches) x width 1800mm (70.5 inches).

As such the drawing requirement is:
6 numbers of A-1 size (594 x 841 mm or 23.4 x 33.1 inches) drawings.
Any paper format that fills up 1800mm x 1800mm (see image below)

There is no need for drawings to be mounted on stiff cardboard. Pins will be provided for mounting during jury and exhibition.

Digital Data:
Digital data of works are to be compiled in thumb drive for submission. The digital data is to facilitate the publication of the competition entries. The specification of the digital data is provided below. The digital data should include the following organized into separate folders:

1. A-4 reports.
2. Drawing panels.
3. Research Poster.
4. Drawing information for model making.
5. 30 numbers of Digital photographs of team in design activities to facilitate publication & publicity.
6. Source images and fonts.
7. Key text.

Each of the respective folders should contain the following:

Report (Design & Research Report)
1. A4 Report in PDF format along with source file (InDesign, MS Word, etc).
2. Images included in the report are to be included separately as well for ease of retrieval.

Drawing Panels & Research Poster
1. Drawings are to be in PDF format. Each panel should conform to ISO A1 Landscape or a format of 1800mm x1800mm, 300dpi and CMYK color mode.
2. The PDF copy should be accompanied by source files in minimum 300dpi and CMYK color mode.
3. Acceptable source files for panel production include Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator and/or InDesign.
4. Flattened and lossy formats such as JPEG and GIF will not be accepted.
5. Do not 'flatten', 'compress' or save the file in such a manner that the various illustrations cannot be separated from each other.
6. If time allows, practice good layer organisation by using the 'layers' feature to organise elements (e.g. text and illustration) in your panel.

Drawing Information for Model Making
Drawings are to be in DWG format to facilitate the model maker who will be appointed by the sponsor for the model productions as part of a travelling exhibition after the competition.

Digital Photographs
30 digital photographs (each of size 2MB) documenting the team in various activities during the design process. The submission format is JPEG.

Source Images and Fonts
1. Images which have been used in the panel layout need to be submitted as well.
2. Images can be in a bitmap (raster) or vector format but must be in CMYK color mode.
3. Bitmap images should be at least 300dpi.
4. Vector images should preferably be in Adobe Illustrator, EPS, SVG file formats.
5. If fonts other than default PC/Mac fonts have been used, kindly attach them as well.
6. If CAD programs have been used to create the images, kindly attached the raster or vector output from the respective program as deemed fit.

Key Text
Provide a 1-page or 300 word summary of your proposal in MS Word or RTF format for ease of reproduction when needed. The document header should contain the university name and the full name of all team members along with their position/title where necessary. Note that the summary may be used in various media including (but not limited to) books, exhibition panels and website listings.

Scale Model (Optional)
The submission of model is optional as not to impose the cost of production and courier to the various teams. If team wishes to complement their drawings with a model, they are free to do so, however the model should be the same design as shown in the drawing and not a variation of it. Jury will disregard the model if it is vastly different from the drawing presentation. The model must be submitted at a stipulated time indicated below.
Presentation Slides (Optional)
The submission and the use of slides in PDF format for presentation are optional. The content of slides should support the design shown in the drawings and not depicting another design variation. The Jury will disregard the slides if it is vastly different from the drawing presentation. The PDF slides for the presentation must be submitted at a stipulated time indicated below.

Submission Deadlines

Hard copies of Drawings & Research Poster
They are to be delivered by international courier service to:

Vertical Cities Asia Competition
c/o Department of Architecture
School of Design and Environment
National University of Singapore
4 Architecture Drive
Singapore 117566
Republic of Singapore

Proof of meeting the deadline will be the official date stamp of 30 Jun 2015, Tuesday as the dispatch date indicated on the courier document or receipt.

The entries shall reach the organizer by 10am, 6 Jul 2015, Monday (local time).

Alternatively, teams that wish to submit personally to the abovementioned address shall do so by 4pm on 30 Jun 2015, Tuesday.

Digital Design Report & Research Report
This is for the purpose of facilitating the Jury members in understanding your scheme before the evaluation. The digital copy of the design and research reports in PDF format should be emailed to by 30 Jun 2015, Tuesday?>.
Digital Data, 6 bound copies of Design Report and Research Report, Scale Model & Presentation slides
These should be submitted to the organizer by 10am, 6 Jul 2015, Monday (local time).

Jury Session

  1. The jury proceeding will be an open session, allowing other students and academics to attend as audiences.
  2. The drawing of lots will be used to determine the sequence of presentation of each university.
  3. Slide projector, projection screen, computer and model stand will be provided to facilitate presentation.
  4. Each university with its 2 teams will be allocated 60 minutes for presentation and jury feedback. Each team will be given a maximum of 15 minutes presentation time with 15 minutes for jury comment. Strict time keeping will be enforced.
  5. The VCA participating teams should use PDF files for their jury presentations.