The design of the Bras Basah MRT Station resolves the conflicting requirements of bringing daylight into a deep underground train station, and providing civic landscaping and open space at ground level. The solution was to provide a water covered glass roof, which acts as a reflection pool at ground level, and as a huge skylight from underground. The station roof reinforces the urban axes and reflects the historic museum and Cathedral of the Good Shepherd, and provides a forecourt to the new Singapore Management University.
The design creates delight for both the commuter and visitor to the civic district. The skylight brings light and views deep into the ground, turning a potentially oppressive, labyrinthine experience into a clear, direct and exciting journey from the earth to the surface. The visual connection is also important for avoiding panic in the case of an emergency underground, with commuters easily seeing how to exit the station. The natural light also permits the station to be used during the day without artificial lighting. The mass of the watergarden conducts heat out of the top of the void, and disperses it through evaporative cooling.
The station incorporates the cultural aspect of the neighbourhood into the design. The void below the water garden is designed to be used for digital projections at night, permitting collaborations with the Singapore Art Museum. During the day, sunlight coming through the watergarden projects images of the surface ripples onto the canyon walls and creating a rippling, ever-changing graphic effect as the sun moves across the sky. A lighting installation below the pool is triggered by the movement of trains, showing at the surface the activity taking place below the city.