Following its successful staging at the 16th Venice Biennale, the No More Free Space? Singapore Pavilion will be home this May for its return exhibition at the National Design Centre.
This is co-commissioned by DesignSingapore Council and Urban Redevelopment Authority, and
Organised by Singapore University of Technology & Design and Singapore National University of Singapore
No More Free Space? We ______________
Fill in the blank.
Like in a primary school worksheet, we asked architects and designers to perform this exercise when conceptualisation of the Singapore Pavilion started in 2018. The replies that came back, was a myriad of intellectual approaches that redefined Singapore’s spatial constraints into “free space”. As discourse went beyond the limits of the quantitative, we decided to explore the qualitative aspect of well-designed local spaces as enablers of freedom and delight.
These selected projects are a sampling of a vast number of innovative architectural designs in Singapore. By curating these projects into three broad themes, which are by no means exhaustive, we hope to spur further discussion into what is truly free in our social, cultural and environmental context. This is particularly meaningful as we celebrate our Bicentennial since the founding of Singapore.
T House _ Lucky Shophouse _ SkyTerrace@Dawson _ Enabling Village
Nested in the tropics while surrounded by sea, we are blessed with an abundance of daylight, rain and breeze. Here, we shift our focus from constraints to what is freely available around us – the natural elements. The projects selected demonstrate how we can live harmoniously with nature and introduce daylight, natural ventilation and greenery – from a terrace house and a shophouse, to a high-rise apartment and low-rise social service “village” adapted from a former school. Here, architecture goes beyond technical definitions of green and sustainability, as these projects introduce multiple sensorial experiences, material sensibility, biodiversity and vitality into living spaces.
Khoo Teck Puat Hospital _ Bishan - Ang Mo Kio Park _ Henderson Waves _ Alexandra Arch & Forest Walk _ i Light Marina Bay
Finding free space in a densely built-up city is not an easy task but yet it is an important one, as it brings joy and delight, and provides, at times, a tranquil, healing environment to the people. These projects show us that this is possible if we set our minds free. Despite constraints, the architects and planners saw opportunities to weave new landscapes into urban life through bold re-imagination – a storm water canal turned into a free-flowing river meandering through a public park; a hospital becomes a health and recreation destination by borrowing a neighbouring pond; inaccessible hill ridges connected into a linear park in the sky; a reclaimed waterfront transformed into a vibrant public space we now enjoy. The traditional technique of “borrowing landscape” has inspired these projects and gained yet more. While abundance may not seem immediately apparent at these sites, the architects first saw them in their minds and brought them to us.
Caterpillar’s Cove _ Library@Orchard _ Goodlife! Makan _ Community Living Room
Free space: a space that is free for people to use. Or in a more egalitarian sense of the word ‘free’, a space that empowers people. Such spaces are often cherished and well loved by its community as they are less deterministic and allows some degree of free play. A preschool that allows children to learn through self-regulated, imaginative play; a public library that encourages users to appropriate how and when they read; a community kitchen where seniors enjoy cooking and serving one another; new types of community spaces at Void Decks that enable flexibility, initiative and better bonding among residents. These projects showcase design by people, design with people, and design for people. By investing in the potential of its people, a space can then build a community.