Renee Tay
R.ECO: An Old to New Textile District

Thesis Supervisor: Tomohisa Miyauchi

Site: Former Tanglin Halt Industrial Estate

Dealing with the issue of Singapore's textile waste through cultural change, this thesis project presents an alternative destination along the former Rail Corridor network for discarded clothing & textiles to become a community resource, while providing designers with platforms to innovate and design with sustainable fabric sources. 

R.ECO, an amalgamation of RECONSTRUCTION and ECOSYSTEM, creates a small-scale textile ecology model which aggregates clothing and textile waste provided by the community into valuable resource streams. This allows clothing waste to be progressively recycled down to base materials and back into new material by a group of artisans working in tandem with local fashion designers. The R.ECO process aims to display and elevate both the means of recycling as well as the finished products. In this way it is hoped that it will galvanise greater interest and participation in grassroots, non-technological strategies for clothing sustainability.

R.ECO is run by the R.ECO Cooperative, which brings together crafters and artisans under the guidance of a revolving scheme of fashion designers. This gives local fashion designers a platform to exhibit their work, as well as explore and innovate with sustainable textiles.  In return for donations, R.ECO provides a public service through the Clothing Library, which sustainably extends the lifespan of clothing by lending out clothes. R.ECO’s array of workshops and studios also taps on this textile resource to reconstruct unwanted textile into new goods, or to use as a base material for creative action.

R.ECO replaces the former Tanglin Halt Industrial Estate with an intimate craft village model within a park-like setting for creative activity to take place organically. The informal arrangement allows the public to naturally flow through, observe, or even interact. It also serves as a green buffer and meeting point between the residential neighbourhoods of Queenstown and the larger One-North industrial area.

The Library creates a new landmark and public plaza at Buona Vista, acting as a gateway into the Textile District.

Site Axonometric

The key zones - Library, Decon/Reconstruction and Garment-making flow along a newly-constructed water catchment which serves the water-intensive textile industry.


The Former Tanglin Halt Industrial Estate is a light industrial area located alongside a portion of the Rail Corridor. The north-eastern tip of the site is also close to the Buona Vista Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) station, which gives it high islandwide connectivity. 
The Rail Corridor is a former railway path which linked Singapore’s Tanjong Pagar railway station in the Central area to Kranji and finally to Johor, Malaysia. It is now being converted into a future green corridor for walking and cycling, with activity and community nodes located along its length. When the Corridor is fully developed, the new textile and fashion district can potentially benefit from the increased pedestrian throughflow and traffic from the Rail Corridor.  The site’s narrowness and length also makes it suitable for increased visibility while moving along the rail corridor route.

Generating Water Catchment

Following the existing contours of the site to generate the river form.


Elevating the overall building massing to respond to the Biopolis master plan and surrounding HDB, forming a valley.

and Flows

Forces and pathways cutting through the Biopolis Master plan extended into the new site to extend the lines of movement. Public plaza and vista created.


Further fragmentation and scattering to create an informal linear settlement-like urban distribution.


The Library’s three main volumes surround a large hall, which serves as the material library. Within these volumes are housed the borrowing and return areas, a media reference library, design incubators, and a repair workshop.

The second typology found in the project is that of the workshops, which house most of the functions of deconstructing garments and recycling textile. The lightweight and open cross-laminated timber structures create pleasant semi-outdoor workspaces.

The studios consist of a variety of small structures and pavilions scattered across the site, suitable for individual artisans to work. The studios complement the larger-scale functions of the workshops.