Improving & Advancing into the New World – Building Resilience Today for a Sustainable Tomorrow


In the face of unprecedented disruptions to developments all over the world due to COVID-19, the focus of the built environment turns towards recovery. Looking specifically at project continuity, there is has been a greater emphasis on technology adoption and increased productivity. This too formed the theme of this year’s Smart Building Conference, Advancing into the New World: Innovate, Improve, Integrate, which was live-streamed on 3rd November. Organised by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) in collaboration with the Real Estate Developer Association of Singapore (REDAS), the conference fielded top experts who analysed and discussed how the built environment can leverage digitalisation to move forward in the new COVID-19 economy.

The day-long virtual conference featured presentations and panels from industry-leading speakers and focused on four pillars that technology could enable: transformation into Smart Cities; improving operational efficiency; prioritising environmental sustainability and enhancing user experiences. DPA director Ms Chan Hui Min was one of the distinguished panellists for the session, Improving & Advancing into the New World – Building Resilience Today for a Sustainable Tomorrow. The discussion examined the radical shift from maximum space utilisation to deliberately calibrated flexible spaces; the acceleration towards better energy management and net-zero carbon commitments; and data-driven transformation as a means for enhanced sustainability.

Hui Min shared insights on some of the approaches that the firm is taking in its projects and the bolstering of its design thinking in light of the new challenges brought about by the pandemic. Citing Paya Lebar Quarter, she explains how DPA employed an integrated format in its design and application of Smart Technology from the inception of the project. This flexibility has, in turn, provided an allowance for changing spatial needs or requirements, such as social distancing.

The DPA director also raised points on the viability of regenerative design as a more cost-efficient method and eco-friendly means towards sustainability, such as in SingPost Centre where new technologies in online and offline commerce were introduced to rejuvenate the existing development into a progressive retail model able to respond to tech-driven consumer behaviour. In addition, Hui Min highlighted the importance of evidence-based planning as a viable way forward, through methods such as utilising survey findings and ongoing research conducted by the firm’s typology groups to shed light on the evolving state of the built environment; and the application of technology to draw real-time data from physical spaces to inform future designs as seen in DPA’s Living Lab.

Joining her in the discussion were Ms Foo Peng Er, Vice President for Sustainability, CapitaLand Group; Mr M Michael Long, Head of Sustainability, Asia, Lendlease; and Ms Ivy Xin, Vice President, Digital Energy Business, Schneider Electric. The panel was facilitated by Mr Khoo Sze Boon, Managing Director, Turner & Townsend Singapore.