Four exceptional developments have been selected as winners in the ULI Awards for Excellence: Asia Pacific competition, widely recognized as the land use industry’s most prestigious recognition program. This year’s winners—chosen from a wide variety of projects across the Asia Pacific region—are the Marina Barrage in Singapore; Paddington Reservoir Gardens in Sydney, Australia; Pinnacle@Duxton in Singapore; and Mandurah Ocean Marina in Mandurah, Australia. Each shows a commitment to high-quality civic spaces, engagement and integration with the natural environment, and strong public/private cooperation, setting creative examples for development in dense urban environments.

Marina Barrage. Bridging the mouth of the Marina Channel, Marina Barrage creates Singapore’s 15th freshwater reservoir and the first in the heart of the city. Designed and developed by the Public Utilities Board (PUB), Singapore’s national water agency, the barrage and reservoir stand as an international model for urbanized areas and fulfills the 20-year vision of Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore’s former prime minister, to create a public reservoir in the city center. Part infrastructure project, part new urban park, Marina Barrage has an 118,000-square-foot (11,000-sq-m) green roof, a jetty where boats can dock, a water sports center for sailing and rowing, an exhibition gallery for public education, and commercial space for restaurants and retailers.

The reservoir accommodates year-round water recreation, contributing to a new wave of downtown lifestyle options. The constant water level is attractive to enthusiasts of boating, canoeing, and dragon boat racing, as well as water taxis, which can serve the new residential and commercial venues. The large green roof provides an open landscaped space that can be used for picnics, concerts, and movie screenings.

Singapore’s geographic circumstances necessitated a bold and innovative solution to provide a new supply of drinking water, improved flood control, and recreational op­­por­­tunities for citizens. “The three benefits [Marina Barrage] brings will transform the waterscape of Singapore and be something all Singaporeans can enjoy and be a part of,” said PUB chief executive Khoo Teng Chye.

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Paddington Reservoir Gardens. This project is a reimagination of a former water reservoir in Sydney that was decommissioned in 1899. With its sunken gardens and ponds surrounded by a precast concrete boardwalk, Paddington Reservoir Gardens involves the preservation of a “civic ruin” in Sydney, returning a significant heritage site to use for the first time in 140 years and offering much-needed open space in the dense, urban Paddington neighborhood. Within the green areas of the sunken park, both public performances and more casual gatherings can be accommodated.

Paddington Reservoir Gardens is also a true garden. Historically accurate plantings were chosen to evoke the Victorian era of the structure’s birth, and the park is divided into “rooms” that create intimate garden spaces that are in stark contrast to the vast open spaces that predominate in Sydney.

This space serves as a new model for adaptive use and heritage preservation in dense urban areas, creating a reminder of the relatively recent past while also providing a respite from city life. By injecting a long-forgotten piece of municipal infrastructure with new vigor via strategic structural and landscape design interventions, designers have allowed a thoroughly modern public space to emerge. Designed by the hometown architecture firm Tonkin Zulaikha Greer, the park has been crowded with people since its opening last year.

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Pinnacle@Duxton. The Pinnacle@Duxton is an international housing model for addressing the social, physical, and economic issues associated with housing development in extremely dense and urbanized settings. The tallest project developed by Singapore’s Housing and Development Board (HDB) at 50 stories, the residential complex comprises seven towers connected by two continuous skybridges that provide unique recreation and community spaces. Occupying an irregular 6.2-acre (2.5-ha) site where HDB built its first two apartment blocks ever, the mammoth Pinnacle@Duxton has 1,848 modern apartments, injecting 7,400 residents—many young families—into an area of aging households.

Designed by Singapore-based ARC Studio, the housing development has as its signature design feature two levels of skybridges. For years, designers and developers have criticized the skybridge for pulling pedestrians off sidewalks and deterring retail and pedestrian activity on the street. At Pinnacle@Duxton, skybridges have been recast as sky gardens—as active destinations rather than passive thoroughfares. The sky gardens, with nearly 0.8 acres (2 ha) of open space, connect the seven buildings at both the 26th story, which includes recreational facilities such as an outdoor gym, clubhouse, and full jogging track; and the 50th story, along the roofline, providing a more contemplative and passive space in activity and design, with seating areas, pavilions, and viewing platforms that create an “outdoor living room.” An elevated open space caps the 1,088-space parking garage and flows down to the street level, providing a seamless connection to the adjacent park and urban network.

Mandurah Ocean Marina. The 153-acre (62-ha) Mandurah Ocean Marina is a waterfront hub and major tourist destination adjacent to the central business district of Mandurah, a fast-growing city located about an hour’s drive south of Perth, Western Australia’s capital. Fulfilling a 30-year community vision for a world-class boating and tourism facility, Mandurah Ocean Marina overcame major stakeholder differences, enabling positive outcomes for all involved—owners of adjoining land, clubs, and residents.

The project, developed by Perth-based LandCorp, was created on a strip of underused—and in some areas derelict—oceanfront land. Composed of North Harbour and South Harbour, linked by a pedestrian bridge, the development offers a mix of residences, hotels, shops, restaurants and cafés, entertainment venues, mooring facilities for large and small boats, and activities for boating and fishing enthusiasts. It includes 26,900 square feet (2,500 sq m) of office space; 172,200 square feet (16,000 sq m) of retail, restaurant, and entertainment facilities; 258,300 square feet (24,000 sq m) of industrial space; 281 hotel rooms; 410 residences; and 1,700 parking spaces.

The 2011 Asia Pacific winners collectively provide evidence of and confidence that a global trend to inspire and challenge is alive and well, said jury chairman Ross Holt, chief executive of LandCorp. “Each of the winners displayed both enthusiasm and scrutiny in designing civic facilities for all to enjoy, getting the best from master planning, better utilizing waterfront environments, and accommodating to the lifestyle of a changing population,” he said. “The incorporation of all of these best practices help assure industry professionals that our development future is in good hands.”