Howard Lee Wen Hau
What's New, Watts Left Behind: The Battery Collective

Thesis Supervisor: Richard Ho

Site: Pasir Panjang Power District, Singapore

Cities around the world occupy only 2% of the world’s landmass but they consume over two-thirds of the world’s energy. With increased awareness of climate change and its effects, Singapore has ramped up their supply of renewable energy sources throughout the island. Yet, such efforts are insufficient and inadequate, as seen by the government’s conservative national target of renewable sources making only 4% of the total energy demand by the year 2030. To effectively achieve sustainable development, we should not be treating renewable energy as an afterthought, but rather, take it into account when planning for a new development. This project demonstrates a renewed perspective on how urban districts can be rejuvenated and developed to be energy resilient in the conserved Pasir Panjang Power District.

Inspired by the intrinsic relationship between man & energy in Vitruvius’ “On Fire & the Origins of Architecture”, as well as the history of the Pasir Panjang Power District, the architecture of the proposed exhibition & convention centre complements the district’s zero energy goals by functioning as an energy storage power plant, and it acts as an incubator for the exchange & sharing of advancements in the industry. The energy from the congregation of large crowds is also harnessed through the utilization of kinetic tiles and the efficient layout of circulation routes and meeting spots for delegates and attendees. The Battery Collective redefines the way we think of our buildings as pure consumers of energy, but instead as energy powerhouses, where energy is generated & ever self-sufficient.


The proposed net-zero energy district would take into consideration urban parameters, such as site coverage and urban density, alongside other environmental measures to reduce energy demand needed for extensive mechanical cooling. Being car-free also means that public spaces would be reserved for active lifestyle habits, mobility and alternative modes of transport. Powered completely by solar and kinetic energy, the community would be energy self sufficient and resilient.

Identifying nodes

Establishing axis and networks

Adopting Passive Urban Strategies

NS orientated plots and short urban blocks to encourage mobility and active publlic spaces

Stitching the Urban Fabric

Integrated networks of waterways, autonomous transport and cycling routes

Creating a Net-zero Energy Ecosystem

Interdependency between mixed-use development, energy storage & chiller plants

Conserving the
Power District

The Pasir Panjang power district would be conserved with the intention of retaining the embodied energy, the sense of place and the character of the site, while staying true to the vision of the masterplan.


Most of the land use for the district would be allocated for residential purposes, while a quarter of land use will be allocated to green spaces, taking into account the increase in building site coverage. Commercial spaces are reduced, so as to limit the levels of high energy demands characteristic of this sector. Public open spaces are preserved at the power district to cater to the large volume of visitor arrivals during days where events are hosted at the exhibition space.


Viewing Gallery

Research Institute

Chiller Plants

Rooftop Bar

Repurposed as a centre for alternative energy, the power station will be open to the public with a main gallery, retail shops and coworking spaces. Alongside these amenities, the boiler hall would be converted into a chiller plant facility, which comes together with an attached viewing gallery, allowing visitors to get

a better sense of scale and understanding of the net-zero energy vision. The building itself would be energy efficient with employment of low energy cooling methods, on top of the existing embodied energy that is conserved with the building's repurposing.


As seen in the foreground, the arrival lobby and pre-function space on the second storey would allow delegates and professionals to have a clear view of the entire hall. The exhibition hall is integrated with conference and work spaces along the sides, connected by the transparency of the internal organization. Exhibitions of the future will therefore be more about participatory involvement, where opportunities for networking are seen as the main drivers of an effective and exciting event.


With a direct visual connection to the exhibition space, the seminar rooms become an extension of the events that are happening around them. The exhibition space itself occupies the first storey hall and can be expanded vertically with multi-storey booths, improving connections with the conference spaces on the higher levels.


On the right, offices and co-working spaces are visually connected to the loading and unloading scene at the cargo dock, transforming the work space into a dynamic and engaging experience. This industrious landscape, characterized by the constant movement of people and goods, serves as a call back to the site’s historical port.


At the waterfront, the journey along marina boardwalk invites the public to a series of public spaces and water activities that injects new life into an area historically reserved for industrial purposes. The aquatic centre consists of a waterpark, a series of thermal pools and sauna facilities. It is expected to draw large crowds to the waterfront, fulfilling the masterplan’s concept of conservation, environment and lifestyle.


View Zoom Critique here: