Cities like Melbourne, Singapore and other major cities are rapidly growing. Multicultural Melbourne is dominating the population growth in Australia and people with Asian ancestry are getting more, some 18% have Asian ancestry and 6.5% Chinese. Chinese investment is strong in Melbourne and a belief in the Feng Shui principles is strong within the Chinese community. In the past, imperial palaces and cities were planned according to Feng Shui and still today, many major developers and customers in big cities like Hong Kong, are consulting Feng Shui experts in matters of urban planning.
Feng Shui has been increasingly popular with its harmonious principles of creating healthy working and living environments in the Western world as well and its ancient teachings could be applied to the modern world, both in architecture and interior design. But what happens in an urban environment that is experiencing higher density living where each piece of vacant land is highly sought after by developers?
How do we combine the principles of Feng Shui with aesthetically interesting, signature designs? Is the challenge even greater when we have to meet the planning schemes and restrictions those challenging, urban blocks of land present us with?
The pressure from developers who are demanding maximum return on their investment by wanting more compact living spaces is increasing the challenge of Feng Shui friendly urban, inner city designs.
Feng Shui is all about chi. Chi is the energy that needs to flow effortlessly in order to create harmonious living. This can naturally be very hard to achieve in small, jam packed living spaces and some negative Feng Shui elements can be hard to avoid in dense, urban environments.
One negative element in Feng Shui is the pointy object. The pointy object could be building corner, pointy roof line, antenna or similar. When pointing in to your home, they create bad Feng Shui, called “sha”. Sha is associated with bad health, legal issues and relationship problems. It is literally impossible to avoid this in inner cities.
One well known example of this can be seen in the DUO building in Singapore, designed by Buro Ole Scheeren. According to an article in fengshuibeginner.com, the rumours were that no Singaporean developer was showing interest to this site because of the bad Feng Shui caused by the sharp edges of The Gateway buildings. The site was next to the massive Parkview Square restricting the qi flow, and the two massive, sharp edges in the East and West wings of the Gateway.
The architect Ole Scheeren tackled this task with the challenging sharp edges of adjoining buildings well and managed to create a signature piece of architecture whilst maintaining good Feng Shui. The circular open spaces between the buildings allow a good flow of chi. This is creativity overcoming negative Feng Shui.
Image courtesy of DUO by Ole Scheeren © Buro-OS
One example of the implementation of Feng Shui principles is perhaps one of the most talked about buildings in the world. The tallest building in the world, Burj Khalifa in Dubai, is getting narrower as it reaches its highest point. This upwards pointing arrow is considered an auspicious shape and it is not by pure chance. An expert in Feng Shui was brought in during early stages of the design of this tower and another of many Feng Shui principles has been implemented in the design, the use of numbers.
Burj Khalifa in Dubai
In China, the number 8 is believed to be a lucky number, a number for prosperity and good fortune. Some interesting facts are that the height of the tower is 828 meters and all the original sales prices are said to end with 888.
Ms Khanna, the founder of Elements Feng Shui General Trading in Dubai, says in an interview for thenational.ae that the entire development surrounding Burj Khalifa also incorporates Feng Shui, from the fountains to the way the buildings are arranged in relation to each other.
How many dead ends and Cul de Sacs do we encounter in cities? Dead ends or Cul de Sacs are considered bad. Chi stagnates in a dead end and has nowhere to go. The way around this is to have a fountain or water feature in front of house as this creates chi movement. Another way to improve Feng Shui is to build a high front gate to stop bad energy from entering and stagnating. When trees or shrubs are planted as leading in to the entry of the house, they slow down the chi before reaching the front gate, but in general dead ends are best to be avoided all together as there are not so much you can do in terms of design to avoid stagnation of chi.
We may find that these highly sought after inner city blocks that become vacant are likely to be squeezed between two existing buildings. Apartments or houses that are close to each other should be of similar height. If one building is overshadowed by two taller buildings on either side, that will block the chi. In a situation like this, a rooftop garden or water on the roof will help. How many developers today are willing to spend on a roof top garden regardless of its benefits that are not only limited to Feng Shui but also give a better living environment for inner city residents.
Melbourne is generally living up to its title of most liveable city in terms of Feng Shui as well but as any big city it has its challenges and limitations when it comes to location of land and block shapes.
One of the most challenging block shapes to deal with is the triangular block.
Any irregular shapes should be avoided, as should any shapes that are missing a corner. This is easier said than done when wanting to maximise the space of your development. As shown on the plan above, the block is triangular and the most harmonious way would have been to design a rectangular or square shaped apartment building. However, this would have lost a lot of sellable space and to utilize as much as possible of the land, the architects, Architeria & Partners, have designed an irregular pentagon. In order to soften the sharp edges, they have articulated the façade by creating square boxes and the internal layout has been designed in a way to avoid bedrooms and kitchens in the pointiest corners of the plan. Landscaping comes to the rescue in this case, as some of the sharp corners can be softened by curving the landscape around them and by planting trees to block them off. The pathway to the house is not starting straight from the corner either, but curves gently towards the house which helps soothe the Feng Shui.
Residential Corner Block - Concept Design by Architeria
There is no doubt that an urban environment in general and inner city living in particular has its many challenges when it comes to architecture. Satisfying the needs and wants of clients as well as end users and at the same time comply with regulations can be a daunting task as it is but adding a bit of Feng Shui to the mix makes it all oh so interesting and challenging.
Architeria & Partners have in house Feng Shui consultants that strive to advise and integrate this ancient theory in to modern architecture.
To get Feng Shui advise on your challenging block of land, call Architeria & Partners on
03 9894 5805