ABOUT THE DESIGNER
Lim Koon Park says that while we have good designs in all aspects of our lives in Singapore, there are still many more opportunities to push the envelope.
Since the NUS- and Bartlett-trained architect set up Park + Associates in 1999, he has cleaved closely to that mind-set, unveiling one after another, designs that are immaculate, considered, understated. Whether a hotel in Malaysia, a school in Singapore, or a mixed-use development in Cambodia, there are, inevitably, lush layers of textures and visual cues that surprise the visitor.
Much of Park + Associates’ success can be attributed to an abiding respect for the site, in understanding and harnessing not just its inherent strength and character as part of the final design, but also the palimpsest of the site’s genetic origins. In a city that is as aggressively progressive as Singapore, this last element adds an unexpected dimension to the projects.
“The rapid urbanisation of Singapore, which creates a modern but sanitised environment, exaggerates our need to remember the past,” Koon Park says, in explaining the rationale for the sensitivity with which he and his team transformed, but without losing the nostalgic charm, a mid-century school building into his firm’s modern office.
That said, whilst Koon Park is keen to create spaces that define a sense of place, he is also mindful that the design must also be rational.
Here lies the key to understanding Koon Park’s modus operandi. What makes him tick is this: Intrigued as he is by the romantic possibility of each site, every project, first and foremost, serves its uses.
Koon Park is also mindful that understanding the practicalities of good design should extend beyond the closed circle of architects and designers.
“I think that public education on design awareness is important,” he says. “A supportive and appreciative public audience is a big factor in encouraging the growth of local design talent.”
That is why the influence of the President’s Design Award is so important. “It furthers the push for design awareness. Having the endorsement of the highest office lends weight because it’s newsworthy and, hence, reaches a wider audience.”
Advice to Emerging Designers:
“Have patience. The process of creating good design can be slow and discouraging. And have a conscience. Do not be tempted to cut corners during the design process and take the easy route.”