FOCUS 71: A Seed Is The First Spark Of Life

Zach Wilson, Managing Director at Alfa Tech Singapore, believes that design and technology have positive impact in climate change


Climate change requires us to rethink the way we build and design structures. In this regard, how does Alfa Tech plan to mitigate the effect of climate change? 

Alfa Tech is a design and build company. Our expertise ranges from industry specific projects such as data centers, laboratories and production facilities through to commercial projects such as retail outlets, corporate offices and commercial properties. The broad knowledge base of our organization allows us to deliver tailored solutions. Our in-house designers and engineers work together to balance the latest technologies and materials with the specific objectives and requirements of our customers. 

Using lighting as an example; our holistic project management approach will focus not only on technical feasibility, but also on improving the aesthetic attributes of the property whilst delivering a cost and environmentally efficient project. 


Tell us about the Seed Bank project with The Singapore Botanic Gardens. 

National Parks Board (NParks) recently unveiled Singapore’s first seed bank designed and built by Alfa Tech Singapore. The facility is fully equipped with laboratories, a storage capacity of 25,000 plant species, rooms for seed processing and storage freezers. Located in the heart of the botanical garden, House 4 at 1D Cluny Road is the largest of the five colonial- style houses within the former Raffles College, now the NUS Law Campus. The building was built in 1928 and gazetted as a conserved building in October 2006. 

Seed Bank Singapore is the embodiment of Alfa Tech’ s expertise focusing on engineering solutions combining design, architectural aesthetic and project delivery. This project stands apart through its purpose and the fact that it is in a heritage building. An extensive process was undertaken to ensure the facility was structurally sound and sufficient to bear the new use. Once the extensive exploratory and non-destructive testing was complete and analysed by Alfa Tech’s engineers, they determined that the colonial house was able to house the new function. 

Being a design build project, Alfa Tech was responsible for the entire creative process. Working hand in hand with NParks and the Singapore Botanic Gardens, we’ve crafted a facility that is state of the art yet respects the architectural legacy. 

Not only complex in its program, the 100-year-old building also required extensive upgrades for fire and safety issues as well as circulation. The new facility required a new lift which was tastefully installed to respect the heritage of the building and elegantly marry modern design with historic character. 

The project is highly technical in many ways as well as being highly novel; we built a state- of-the-art scientific facility in a historic national heritage building. The original purpose of this 100-year-old home was to house the principal of Raffle’s College, the first university in Singapore. The building is unique on the historic campus being one of the first buildings in Singapore to utilise steel reinforced concrete. 


What is the technology deployed in Alfa Tech's structures to preserve the seeds? 

The design includes several types of labs dedicated to seed cleaning, seed preservation, germination, cryogenic storage and research. In addition, the facility includes a cold and dry room with strict temperature and humidity regimes to enable long term storage of possibly some of the world’s most valuable plant species and genetic material. 


What are the long-term implications of this project? 

The public character of the institution and its role as Seed Bank emphasizes its educational role. All visitors can learn and be informed about global environmental problems and the importance of preserving biodiversity for future generations while enjoying the beauty of a Singaporean heritage building. 

Singapore has committed to reducing its carbon emissions by 36 percent from 2005 levels by 2030. If our company does its part with our integrated and sustainable design services, every day is a small victory against climate change.



Interview with Zach Wilson, Managing Director at Alfa Tech Singapore, for FOCUS #71. To read more articles from this issue, download your digital copy here


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