Since its inception in 1967, DP Architects (DPA) has been driven by a strong philosophy devoted to human activity and the civic quality of the city. Its designers approach each project as the continuation of an ongoing exploration in shaping the public domain. Its consistency does not attune to stylistic conventions; rather, it pursues a common architectural goal: a sustainable civic society.
DPA has been involved with urban projects of immense scale and increasing diversity of function for five decades. The firm’s recent architectural works are some of the largest of their type in the world: The Dubai Mall at 550,000 square metres is a ‘city within a city’ hosting programmes of shopping, entertainment and leisure, and was in 2013 the world’s most visited leisure destination with 75 million visitors; Resorts World Sentosa, a mixed-use complex in Singapore, comprises five hotels and a number of entertainment centres; a series of some 30 retail mall projects along Singapore’s Orchard Road redeveloped an entire shopping corridor, which receives seven million visitors annually.
SHAPING URBAN ENVIRONMENTS
DPA was formed shortly after Singapore’s national independence in 1965, and the practice has designed many of the country’s most important public projects over a period spanning from the 1960s to today. Each of these has played a critical role in shaping Singapore’s civic urban landscape and downtown core, by linking spaces of the city in the formation of a continuous urban fabric. These sites serve as social and cultural anchors for Singapore and as public nodes of human density that have contributed greatly to the city’s success.
Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay in Singapore’s downtown, for example, is the result of a long-term drive by the city to establish a centre for the performing and creative arts. DPA designed the theatre and library facility over the course of a decade, and with its opening in 2002, the complex became the civic heart of Singapore and a functional centrepiece connecting Singapore’s financial and entertainment districts.
As a practice evolving contiguously with Singapore as a global city, DPA’s local role is as a practice ingrained with a special understanding of regional progress and needs. DPA applies this regional knowledge – from aspects of climate to social and economic factors that contribute to a city’s long-term health – to its projects throughout Southeast Asia and the Middle East.
In many areas of the world today, clients expect fully integrated design services for projects. As the core design element of the DP group of companies, DPA works with its complementing consultancy services to support its architectural concepts with appropriate and economical solutions in engineering, sustainability, interior design, planning and infrastructure.
DPA’s successful completion of projects affords the company a host of return clients, from government entities to commercial developers and institutions; DPA’s continuous work on Singapore’s Orchard Road, in Singapore’s Marina Bay and in the United Arab Emirates illustrates the reliance of clients on DPA’s regional knowledge, engaging the practice in multiple design projects.
DPA designed Orchard Road’s Wisma Atria shopping mall, for instance, first in 1986. Rather than re-build when the building demanded subsequent design overhauls to remain competitive, the client hired DPA to revamp the architecture first in 2004 and again in 2012 – as a result, the mall has been hugely successful for nearly 30 years.