The Singapore Pavilion at Venice Architecture Biennale this year showcases everyday stories representing a broad cross-section of culture and society, and allow visitors to experience a uniquely Singaporean style of gathering and living together.
9 June, 2021
Even in the face of a pandemic, there’s no stopping Singapore from participating in the 17th International Architecture Exhibition at the Venice Architecture Biennale, especially not when the exhibition’s overarching theme is How Will We Live Together? This question put forth by exhibition curator Hashim Sarkis to the 112 participants from 46 countries resonates deeply with Singapore, where the majority of the population lives in public housing and where designed spaces of different scales such as hawker centres, community centres, void decks and sky gardens have and will continue to meaningfully contribute to public social life.
In response to the theme, the Singapore Pavilion showcases an exhibition titled, ‘to gather: The Architecture of Relationships’ that examines the different ways in which Singaporeans share public spaces through 16 built and speculative architecture, art and design projects by local architects and design talents. Jointly presented by the Urban Redevelopment Authority and DesignSingapore Council and curated by the National University of Singapore, this is Singapore’s seventh showcase since first taking part in 2004. The exhibition runs from 22 May to 21 November 2021.
Watch the Singapore Pavilion virtual launch event below.
Inspired by local spatial typologies, the 16 installations are brought together by four themes: Communing Relationships, Framing Relationships, Uncovering Relationships and Imagining Relationships. Each project addresses the challenges in making public spaces more sustainable, resilient, and safer, as the community positions itself to emerge stronger from the pandemic. Here are five installations not to be missed.
The proposed restoration of four wooden Malay houses on Pulau Ubin presents a new frontier for architectural and landscape conservation in Singapore. This installation introduces the houses as objects of interest, and sites of knowledge exchange and interaction. The exhibit includes a historical timeline of Pulau Ubin and a summary of its recent developments. Selected architectural models are used to discuss kampung houses in relation to vernacular architecture, construction and building codes. It highlights the relationship Pulau Ubin shares with mainland Singapore and its role in Singapore’s nation-building efforts. These materials are further enriched by interviews conducted with the island’s residents.
The installation presents a series of videos illustrating how the residents of Kampung Admiralty inhabit, engage, and interact within this unique development. Completed in 2017, Kampung Admiralty is Singapore’s first integrated public housing development for seniors. The development boasts a community plaza at the lowest level, a medical centre at the middle level, and a community park with universally-designed apartments at the top level; all of which support intergenerational bonding and turn the development into the new heart of the community.
Lighting Detectives was conceived as a group that engages in fieldwork and community activities to review the present state of urban environmental lighting. In this lighting installation, a series of fabric panels is suspended from the ceiling, showcasing the history of lighting in Singapore. Automated to ascend and descend at regular intervals, the panels alternate to reveal the historical lighting fixtures within. The table surface features a comprehensive overview of Lighting Detectives’ public engagement activities in Singapore, which also showcases the non-profit group’s mission.
The Rail Corridor: Choa Chu Kang Integrated Housing Development was a scheme submitted for a competition held by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA). The proposal seeks to integrate both nature and the built environment along the 24-kilometre belt. The nearby Pang Sua Canal is re-conceptualised as a natural floodplain, dissolving its hard concrete boundaries and making it an integral part of the design. By doing so, land is freed up to accommodate a 50-metre linear forest down the length of the site. It infuses the Rail Corridor with a green function, to reflect a deeper connection between community and nature.This investigation of our spatial relationship with nature, unique to the Rail Corridor site is brought up in the architectural model presented at the Singapore Pavilion.
Architects, designers and researchers have been grappling with what it would mean to live, work and play together in the future. With housing, future solutions might incorporate hybridised or amalgamated forms. Future Hybrid High-Rise Commune is a conceptual design research project that explores socially and environmentally sustainable residential buildings. It emphasises regeneration and adaptability. The exhibit presents an imagined permanent support structure, complemented by infill modules constructed out of timber, a native Southeast Asian resource.
For more info on to gather: The Architecture of Relationships and the other installations at the Singapore Pavilion, visit to-gather.sg
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