An inclusive, green public space forged from a former training institute campus; a conversation about participatory design; a rare inclusive preschool; open-ended design processes; and much more in our latest issue.
11 April, 2016
Can the user of a design also be its author? How about the maker of a product? Can, or should, they be given a voice in its outcome? Can user groups with divergent needs be accommodated by a singular design? Can a place be inclusive of entities or factors beyond the human? In traditional modes of design thinking, these are radical questions. But as the voice of the individual gains prominence across various frames of contemporary life, it seems an appropriate time to ask.
Threads of inclusivity, open-endedness and participation stitch together this issue of Cubes Indesign. Two of our features are dedicated to the notion of participatory design – an increasingly popular approach to the development of projects in Singapore (particularly in the public realm) that invites stakeholders to contribute to design.
In this issue’s ‘In Conversation’ feature, an architect (Seah Chee Huang of DP Architects) and the designer-founders of the non-profit organisation Participate in Design (Jan Lim and Mizah Rahman) discuss the realities of delivering this mode of development – chiefly, but not exclusively, for public clients. We also hear from Dr Chng Keng Hua, co-founder of design consultancy COLOURS: Collectively Ours, about how participatory design was used to instil a sense of ownership and community at a seniors’ centre.
Our profile of Austrian designers mischer‘traxler investigates their use of open-ended design processes, which turn our familiar relationships with products on their heads. Their Collective Works project, for example, involves what they term “production on interest”; a wooden basket will be progressively manufactured by a custom machine only when the machine detects the presence of observers. Rarely is the relationship between oneself and the very design and production of an object a factor of experience.
Our cover story describes the conversion of a cluster of former training institute blocks in Redhill into a site of considerable public value. WOHA Architects made the most of the rare opportunity to adapt and reuse non-gazetted buildings, and – working with landscape firm Salad Dressing – to transform their surroundings. The two studios have developed an environment of inclusivity in multiple terms at the Enabling Village.
The village is a community destination that is inclusive of users with diverse abilities. The reinvention of the site not only made it possible for people with disabilities to gain access, but also reintroduced the place to the public realm. The result is a new inclusive, attractive and useful public garden space for the users of the village and for the wider community. It is also a new contributor to Singapore’s system of biodiversity, with indigenous plants and an awareness of natural cycles giving it this additional role.
We also take a look inside the Kindle Garden Preschool designed by Lekker Architects – a colourful and inclusive learning environment for children with varying abilities. This bold institution challenges educational norms that dictate the segregation of students groups. Design plays a role in assisting teachers and helping students to learn together.
This issue’s ‘Portfolio’ feature looks at the singular approach of HYLA Architects’ Han Loke Kwang – and how he aims to balance strong forms with dynamic spaces. “One thing I value in architecture is simplicity,” says Han. “When I say I try to make the forms simple, I mean that I try to make the external form stable and powerful; but my spaces tend to be very dynamic,” he adds. We take a look at a cross section of HYLA’s projects dating back to 2003, and discover some delightful spaces in the process.
Other features in issue 79 look at Facebook’s new office at South Beach Tower designed by Siren Design; Takenouchi Webb’s balance of the classical and the casual at Whitegrass restaurant; an original approach to screening in a house by RT+Q Architects; the technology used in the design and fabrication of the Future of Us pavilion by SUTD’s Advanced Architecture Laboratory; a creative studio space that supports staff interconnectedness, designed by Produce Workshop; and the comments of Rem Koolhaas at Art Stage Singapore’s Southeast Asia Forum. I hope you find inspiration throughout the issue!
Note by Editor Narelle Yabuka.
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