How tradition and innovation converge at Yale-NUS College

Singapore, Singapore
The heart of the campus at Yale-NUS College is a lush arboretum with six heritage trees and an eco-pond to capture and filter rainwater.

A partnership between Yale and National University of Singapore, Yale-NUS is a vibrant community of living and learning for students and faculty from around the world. The college brings together Yale’s legacy of excellence with Southeast Asia’s thriving cultures, creating a forward-looking catalyst of curiosity, creativity, and critical thinking.

The campus is in the beautiful UTown area of the National University of Singapore. Attended by students from across the globe, it includes three residential colleges, three dining halls, a library, a recording studio, art studios, research labs, and an auditorium.

The campus is home to abundant gardens and green space, including heritage trees and a central pond.

The Yale-NUS College site during construction in 2014.

“Each decision we made was to build an environment that offers a deep sense of belonging.” — Mariko Masuoka AIA, LEED AP

The sky gardens create communal spaces and green pockets of foliage woven into the architecture.

Sky gardens and courtyards are used as outdoor rooms for classes, studying, and exchanging ideas.

Singapore’s climate and lush ecosystem take center stage

Built on the site of a former golf course, five heritage trees live at the center of campus, including a majestic Margaritaria Indica. Sunlight dapples down through the branches and greenery, reflecting on the eco-pond that filters rainwater for reuse. Abundant, sloping green space unfolds, inviting connection and collaboration among students and faculty. Throughout campus, sun- and rain-screened colonnades and roofs with generous eaves offer shelter from the elements.

The Learning Commons, the college’s main gathering place, is set on a slope to represent the pinnacle of knowledge. Outside is the Agora, an open-air, sheltered gathering place.

A modern evocation of Singapore’s classic architecture

Each building on campus is connected by shaded walkways, providing shelter from the sun and rain, and referencing the traditional five-foot ways commonly found alongside Singapore’s shop houses.

A classic five-foot way outside of a shop house.

Shaded walkways, common alongside Singapore’s shop houses, connect each building.

Residential colleges cultivate deep bonds

Central to Yale NUS’s residential college model are “nested communities” — dynamic environments for students to experience diverse cultures, languages, and ideas. Three residential colleges are anchored by low-rise courtyard buildings, offering vibrant intergenerational homes for students and faculty. Modeled upon Yale College, students are grouped into “neighborhoods” with distinctive design language across dining halls, common rooms, classrooms, and lush gardens.

Audience members in the 339-seat auditorium are greeted with rich textures of pattern cherry and teak strapwork, inspired by the tradition of Southeast Asia's textiles.

“When the college opened in 2015, there was collective amazement at its beauty and the thoughtful details that went into making it a space where living and learning are truly intertwined.”
— Pericles Lewis, Yale-NUS Founding President

Throughout campus, there are covered colonnades with patterned laser-cut metal guard rails and rain/sun screens. 

More About the Project

Project Team

Principal Collaborators

  • Structural Engineering: Meinhardt
  • MEP: Meinhardt
  • Landscape Architecture: Lekker Design Pte. Ltd.

Project Information

  • Location: Singapore, Singapore
  • Clients: Yale-NUS College and National University of Singapore
  • Size: 666,974 sq. ft. / 61,964 sq. m.
  • Height: 330 ft. / 100 m.
  • Completion: 2015
  • Certification: Platinum Green Mark
  • Firm Role: Design Architect

Awards

  • 2016, International Architecture Award, The Chicago Athenaeum: Museum of Architecture and Design and The European Centre for Architecture Art Design and Urban Studies
  • 2018, BCA Construction Excellence Award/ Institutional Buildings Category, Building and Construction Authority
  • Principal Project Photography: Jeff Goldberg/ESTO