Dining in a Park in a... Hawker Centre?

Pasir Ris Dining
Pasir Ris Central Hawker Centre, Singapore

We Singaporeans are (quite justifiably!) proud of our food culture, and hawker centres have for decades been an integral part of that. Within the space of a single hawker centre, Singaporeans have access to a cornucopia of delicious food options from a multitude of racial and ethnic backgrounds.

Given this long history, hawker centres present interesting design challenges as well as an opportunity to present a strong architectural vision. Take for example the Pasir Ris Hawker Centre which we worked on. The Hawker Centre is situated in the immediate vicinity of the Pasir Ris Town Park, and one of the main objectives of our design was to elevate the dining experience by organising eating spaces that incorporate panoramic views of the surrounding lush greenery. The stalls and dining area are arranged in a singular fan-shaped profile facing Pasir Ris Town Park, providing diners with a ‘dining in a park’ experience. At the same time, the Hawker Centre is intended to become a place for community bonding and social interaction for residents and visitors of Pasir Ris.

The creation of the building environment was inspired by the history of Pasir Ris as a fishing village. The selection of finishes was selected from a palette of nature-inspired elements and textures, such as timber (shades of brown), greenery (shades of green) and raw concrete (greys and whites). In doing so, we aimed to evoke a sense of rusticity, creating a relaxing environment for diners that harked back to simpler ‘kampong’ times.

The Pasir Ris Hawker Centre caters to a diverse range of tastes by offering a wide variety of cuisines, and appeals to millennials with hip food options on the second level (a break from conventional hawker centre design).

Another key design strategy was to integrate the hawker centre as seamlessly as possible into the existing urban fabric. There are pedestrian links to adjacent buildings, ramp connections to surrounding parkland and facilities, as well as bicycle path connections. Instead of perimeter fencing, sensitive landscaping was used to assimilate building edge to the adjoining parkland.

The maximisation of natural ventilation was yet another design objective. The building envelope is largely porous to maximise airflow. This was achieved through a combination of customised metal facade panel system with openings and aerofoil louvres. The high ceilings of the centre were also designed to maximise airflow and circulation.

During the design phase, we also made full use of modern architectural technologies. A Computation Fluid Dynamics (CFD) specialist used CFD studies to verify the impact to airflow from construction-related changes such as the increase of wall height behind the hawker stalls and the removal of mechanical ventilation in the toilets.

Green considerations also played a major role. For example, our design incorporated the use of sustainable laminates at the refreshment area, on tables and seats, as well as toilet and urinal partitions.

Environmentally friendly plaster cement, floor screed and skim coat were used, as well as low paints and sealers with a low proportion of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC). Minimal paint and plastering for ceilings and walls reduced material usage as well as lower future maintenance costs.

When all is said and done, hawker centres may have a long history but a little design spice can go a long way in improving the experience for users of any kind of building or development.

By Jane Kung, Principal Architect of CPG Consultants