On a typically hot and humid afternoon in Singapore, a fresh breeze blows beneath the canopy of the South Beach development, keeping temperatures several degrees cooler than on the surrounding streets.
The rippling 280-meter (919 feet) wave of steel-and-aluminum runs the length of the Norman Foster-designed complex, funneling prevailing winds over outdoor patrons of restaurants and bars and saving on air conditioning for the mixed-use complex. The canopy is covered with solar panels and catches rainwater to irrigate the gardens.
Offices and apartment blocks designed to be green are springing up all over the world as architects reverse almost a century of trying to insulate workers from nature and instead try to adapt structures to their natural surroundings. The change is being driven by stricter building codes, a desire to cut energy costs and, in particular, demands from corporations and startups that need to show shareholders and customers they are meeting environmental standards.