At the President*s Design Award (P*DA) ceremony held at The Istana on 12th July 2023, the State Courts Towers was named the Design of the Year. Designed and completed by Serie+Multiply Consultants Pte Ltd and CPG Consultants Pte Ltd, the design team members behind the project were presented the award by Singapore's President Halimah Yacob.
The President*s Design Award (P*DA) is Singapore’s highest honour for designers and designs across all disciplines. Awards are conferred under two categories, Designer of the Year and Design of the Year. As a winner of the Design of the Year (Architecture), the State Courts Towers was commended for being a building that resonates with the public and one that referenced the typical architecture of the surrounding site. The jury commented that the direct and effective design reinvents the classical image of courtroom complexes for contemporary times while embracing and addressing the space complexities that create a new kind of court complex.
The P*DA Awards recognises the State Courts Towers as an exemplary project that demonstrates excellence in four areas:
Enabling economic transformation
Raising the quality of life
Advancing Singapore’s brand, culture and community
Making ground-breaking design achievements
Enabling Economic Transformation – Improving Internal Processes
The State Courts Towers contributes economic benefit due to its siting and massing. The project started in the late 1990s when it was determined that with increasing caseloads, the former State Courts building (commonly known as the Octagon) would need more space to fulfil its functions efficiently. The surface carpark adjacent to the Octagon was considered for development, however, given the space requirements and the physical constraints of the site, a new approach to courthouse architecture was needed. From this, CPG conceptualised building the first high-rise courthouse in Singapore that would not only provide ample space for expansion but allow the existing Octagon building to be occupied by the Family Justice Courts, effectively forming an integrated judiciary hub. By occupying a former surface carpark at Havelock Square, the scheme avoids the impacts and costs associated with procuring new land. And by proximity to the Family Justice Courts, both judicial bodies can share amenities and resources and thus operate more efficiently.
Architecturally, the tower form is inherently economical by the measure of its higher density (floor area to plot area). It is also an environmentally sustainable building, with abundant natural lighting and innovative green building features incorporated in its design, such as solar panels and rainwater recovery systems, qualifying it as an energy-efficient workplace.
Raising Quality of Life – Enhancing User Experience
The project improves the day-to-day experience of users in several ways. The open façade of the Court Tower allows for lushly planted terraces to surround the various courtrooms. The terraces accommodate informal gatherings and give occupants places to seek respite from the often demanding and stressful experience of legal proceedings. By introducing landscaping on the tower, the project also pushes the idea of urban skyrise greenery, even within a judiciary building.
Advancing Singapore’s Brand, Culture and Community – Promoting Singapore’s Architectural Identity
The design of the State Courts Towers references the “typical architectures” of the site, merging the design language of traditional shophouses and contemporary high-rises into something that is both new and familiar. It is through this translation that the project contributes to a modern Singaporean brand that equally acknowledges its history. One can recognise the same materiality and granularity inspired by the colours and textures of the existing terracotta roofs of surrounding shophouses expressed onto the courtrooms. When pictured adjacent to the old Ministry of Labour Building (current Family Justice Courts), a connection is drawn between the masonry pilasters of the 1928 building and the articulated columns of the Court Tower.
Making Ground-breaking Design Achievements
The State Courts Towers breaks new ground by exploring courthouse design in a high-rise typology. Eschewing the idea of a tower as a simple extruded form with repeated floor plates and equal floor-to-floor heights, sealed by air-tight glazed curtain walls, the State Courts Towers is a high-rise complex composed of multiple platforms with variable heights. Its open facade frames a series of landscaped public spaces in the sky.
Its unusual vertical form also offers new ideas for development in high-density cities. The project reinforces Singapore as an incubator for innovative high-rise architecture and rethinks both the courthouse and high-rise typologies in a manner representative of contemporary architecture in Singapore. It is open, green, and while informed by historical precedents, offers a new vision of civic architecture.
The President*s Design Award (P*DA is Singapore’s highest honour for designers and designs across all disciplines, recognising the design excellence that makes a difference to the lives of Singaporeans and the global community.
CPPL is proud to be a part of the CPG multidisciplinary project team for the State Courts. For more information about this project, please visit: