For example, in The Tembusu condo project, they created sky gardens that wrapped around the three blocks of the residential complex, bringing greenery and activity to the surface of the building.
"Buildings, more than just glass monoliths, become hosts for greenery and communal activities. The identity of our buildings arises from making that connection between the intangible and tangible. It is about giving an expression to architecture that integrates all of these complex needs in as simple a way as possible."
Meanwhile, the Design of the Year awards were given to projects that show design's capacity to transform and touch people from all walks of life, both locally and abroad.
One of the standout designs is Etania Green School in Sabah, Malaysia.
Designer Prasoon Kumar, who is an overseas practising architect, and chief design officer Robert Verrijt of Singapore-based social enterprise BillionBricks, transformed five shipping containers using recycled timber and adding an iron roof to create a low-cost school. The project has benefited 350 students who are children of a marginalised community of migrant labourers since the school opened in 2018.
Etania features open and flexible classrooms that enable experiential learning across multiple age groups.
Mr Kumar, 44, quit his full-time architect job in 2013 to start a non-profit to build homes for the homeless. It has helped house thousands in poor communities and disaster zones in eight countries.
He says: "If we want to teach children about sustainability, then we need to build schools that use less energy. If we want to teach equality and respect for all, then school buildings have to be less hierarchical. Etania Green School achieves this in many ways."
A constant observer of the PDA over the years is the recipient of its first award, Mr Theseus Chan. He received the Designer of the Year award at the inaugural President's Design Award in 2006.
He notes that today's recipients are at an important crossroads in Singapore's design history.
"Not only do they continue to shape our nation's needs and identity on the one hand, but they are also imprinting their individuality in their work," says Mr Chan, 59, founder of design studio Work.
"There has been an impressive continuum since the inaugural honours in 2006."
This article was first published in The Straits Times